The routine call for peace talks between India and Pakistan has no meaning unless Islamabad changes its course and stops terrorism, a top US think-tank has said. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a global think-tank, said in its report that such a move supported by countries, including the US, would be not only misguided, but also counterproductive. The report “Are India Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn” is authored by Ashley J Tellis, who holds the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and is a senior fellow at the think-tank. The 100-page report notes that international community’s call for continuous India-Pakistan dialogue fails to recognise that the security competition between the two neighbours is not actually driven by discrete, negotiable differences but is rooted in long-standing ideological, territorial and power- political antagonisms.
The report says these antagonisms are fuelled by Pakistan’s irredentism, its Army’s desire to subvert India’s ascendancy as a great power and exact revenge for the past victories of the Indian military. Peace talks between the two countries are meaningless unless Pakistan changes its course and sheds its links with jihadi terrorism, it said. The report states that Pakistan’s antagonisms are driven by its aspirations to be treated on par with India despite their huge differences in capabilities, achievements and prospects, Tellis writes.
The Pakistan Army feels emboldened by the international calls for bilateral engagement, Tellis writes, adding that this is because Islamabad believes that its strategy of nuclear coercion successfully invites foreign pressure on India to make concessions on territory and other issues thus far out of reach. After several unsuccessful efforts by the Modi government in the last three years, New Delhi of late has been insisting that there can be no talks with Pakistan unless it stops supporting terrorist activities in India.
“Talks and terror” cannot go together, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently told the Parliament. Tellis report tends to supports India’s position and seeks other international powers, including the US, to extend their support to New Delhi. “If the United States wants to advance stability in South Asia, it must set upon a course that, instead of merely urging talks, presses Pakistan to realistically accept its circumstances vis-a-vis India,” the report said.
That requires, most importantly, a determined effort to compel the “deep state” in Rawalpindi to sunder its links with jihadi terrorism, it said.