Indo-Pak peace process to witness rough time ahead: Mattoo

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Jammu, Jun 16 (UNI) With internal instability troubling Pakistan, the ongoing peace process with India would experience a rough time, an expert on international relations today said.

''Political instability and armed unrest in the northern parts of Pakistan are going to play a major role in slowing down the peace process with India,'' Prof Amitabh Mattoo, an internationally acclaimed expert on world politics and Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University, told UNI in an interview.

Interestingly, the peace process between both the neighbouring nuclear powers still survives despite upheavals within Pakistan, which witnessed assassination of its former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and thereafter reins in the hands of an uncertain coalition government.

Prof Mattoo said India and Pakistan would have to keep the achievements of peace process, like trans-border communication and ceasefire, well secured for the time till Islamabad comes out of domestic political uncertainty and armed unrest along Afghanistan borders.

''Both the countries must keep what has been done (in peace process),'' Prof Mattoo, who was recently elected to the governing council of Pugwash -- an international body that brings together scholars and public figures to work towards reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security- said.

Not only the situation in Pakistan, but the peace process would also be affected by political scenario in India, which will be witnessing Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir later this year and Lok Sabha elections in the country next year, he said.

''The current political picture shows that Indo-Pak peace process won't be smooth,'' Prof Mattoo said, asserting that for Congress party, which is prone to the BJP's criticism for soft stand against terrorists, it would be rather difficult.

On Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's threat to invade terrorist-infested areas inside Pakistan claiming the move would be in self-defence, Prof Mattoo was confident of the United States support to the Kabul ruler.

Mr Mattoo, however, asserted that India, being a fast developing country, cannot afford to have unhealthy relations with its neighbours as well as rest of countries in the world.

Ruling out any parallel with Pakistan, he said ''India is a greater nation and should not compare itself with Pakistan.'' ''World believes India is a great power, but when it will consider itself insignificant or compare itself with small countries, what the world will see?'' Prof Mattoo, who was also a member of the task force constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Global Strategic Developments said, advising the Centre to make the country a ''self-confident nation with a vision''.

UNI VJ RP BD1520

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