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Pathankot attack: Why talking to Nawaz Sharif is dangerous if Pak Army is not fully on board

Raj Singh 05 Jan 2016, 15:03:09 IST
Raj Singh

New Delhi: The euphoria generated in India over the surprise visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lahore for greeting Pakistani premier  Nawaz Sharif on his birthday has been replaced by  a sense of betrayal and immense anger after terror attacks on Indian Air Force(IAF) base at Pathankot.

Questions are being raised over the rationale behind Modi's unexpected visit to Pakistan despite the fact that General Raheel Sharif-led Army has showed no signs of taking action against anti-India terror outfits operating from that country.

Pathankot attack has made it very clear that Pakistan Army is still not willing to support any peace initiative with India. And if that is the case, why and for what should India talk to Nawaz Sharif-led civilian govt?

Everybody knows that Nawaz Sharif is not in full control of Pakistan's foreign and defence policies especially when it relates to India and Afghanistan. Pakistan experts have repeatedly pointed out that there is a clear-cut diarchy in that country under which the Army has unambiguously delineated the domains of the civilian government and the military establishment.

When the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of the two countries met in Bangkok, the only hope that emerged out was that perhaps for the first time in recent history, Pakistan Army appeared to be on-board in the renewed talks between the two neighbours. And the reason was the background of the newly appointed NSA of Pakistan, Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua.

Lt Gen Janjua is a retired Army officer who is considered to be a close confidante of Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif. After Janjua met Ajit Doval and promised to fight terror, it was expected that this time Pakistan Army will stand by its promise but the Pathankot attacks have clearly shattered these hopes.

Read Also: Since Nawaz Sharif is a toothless PM, should India start engaging Pakistan Army?

Now, the question is – why should India talk to the civilian government when it's not in control of things in that country? By doing that, are we not putting the lives of our citizens in danger?

A few media reports emanating  have said that General Raheel Sharif has clearly told Nawaz Sharif that the Pakistan Prime Minister is free to hold talks with Modi government but the Army is not going to take action against terror outfits targeting India. Obviously, he still considers these terror groups as strategic assets for Pakistan.  

Sushant Sareen, the renowned security expert, very rightly told a news channel, “It's very clear that   when India does not talk to Pakistan, the number of terror attacks is fewer compared to when India enters into a dialogue with Pakistan. So if we want to keep our people safe, why talk to Pakistan?”

Sushant Sareen has a very valid point. We can't afford to endanger the precious lives of our Army personnel and civilians by talking to Pakistan if their Army is not a willing partner in that peace process. If India continues to engage Nawaz Sharif-led civilian government without ensuring that the Pakistani Army is fully on-board then we run the risk of facing more and more Pathankot like incidents on a regular basis.

So what should be Narendra Modi's Pakistan policy here onwards?

There is no denying the fact that talks should never be abandoned with Pakistan but under present circumstances the government will do well to keep it  at track-II level i.e. secret diplomacy. Once you reach to a tangible agreement on areas of differences and Pakistan Army is a willing partner in that deal, only then it makes sense to make these negotiations public.

Otherwise, a miffed Pakistani Army would refuse to tighten the noose around anti-India terror outfits operating from their soil and worse, would actively connive with these rogue elements to ensure that these talks turn out to be a complete fiasco.