New Delhi, July 29 (ANI): India and Pakistan have gone through another round of shadow boxing, which they call steps towards a dialogue, to sort out differences between the two countries on a host of issues.
Though the talks ended in a stalemate, with the two countries blaming each other for the deadlock, they are set to pick up the threads again by the end of the year, or even earlier in September, when their Foreign Ministers would be in New York for the UN General Assembly session.
Reasons for the failure of the Islamabad talks are not difficult to fathom. Both sides went into the talks with different expectations and agendas which had no convergence.
India wanted action on terrorism, while Pakistan ostensibly wanted progress at least on the drawing up of a road map to tackle the issues of Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.
Both countries have domestic compulsions. After 26/11, terrorism has become a big issue for the Indian people, even though they are exercised over major problems facing the country - burgeoning corruption, an excruciatingly slow justice delivery system, an inequitable economic regime, where the rich are becoming super rich while the poor are dying of malnutrition and starvation.
Food grains valued at tens of thousands of crores of rupees rot in the godowns and in the open. The parties in the opposition have also been complicit in many of the woes from which the country is suffering.
But terrorism is one issue on which the government is sensitive, as it has the potential to unite the divided opposition, and may just be the spark which the BJP, the principal opposition party, has been waiting for to light up its offensive against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Also, the Manmohan Singh government can no longer afford to be seen as being soft on terrorism, especially that emanating from the country's western neighbour, which is widely perceived to involve elements in the establishment there.
The picture on the Pakistan side is also not clear. It has been apparent to security analysts as well as the global community that not only "non-state actors" as claimed by Islamabad but also an important part of the Pakistan establishment is responsible for the acts of terrorism targeting India.
In fact, Pakistan has been using terrorism as an instrument of state policy for decades. And, recent events have shown that there is no change in this scenario. Pakistan has steadfastly refused to take any credible action to dismantle the terror infrastructure on its territory and the part of Kashmir under its illegal occupation.
Terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir continue to produce fresh groups of young people, motivated and equipped to undertake terror strikes in India and other parts of the world.
Pakistan has failed to rein in its Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
The agency continues to mount terror strikes against India and in Afghanistan in cahoots with forces like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban created by Pakistan itself to further its agenda. Of course, Pakistan has also had to pay a price for it, with some of the terrorist cadres turning against their creators.
Pakistan origin American Lashkar terrorist David Coleman Headley's testimony during interrogation by the American FBI and India's National Investigation Agency (NIA), has once again blown the lid off the role played by Pakistan's ISI and Lashkar founder Hafiz Saeed in the 26/11 terror strikes.
As Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillai put it tersely, the ISI and Hafiz Saeed were involved in the Mumbai outrage from the beginning till the end.
Pillai's remarks may have been ill-timed, coming as they did on the eve of External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna's talks with his Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, but there is no denying that it was spot on.
Qureshi used the remarks of G.K. Pillai to shift the blame for the lack of progress at the Islamabad talks on India.
Very conveniently, Pakistan is targeting Pillai instead of taking action to plug the fountains on its soil from which terrorism is springing up and threatening not only India, but also other countries including the United States.
It is obvious that Pakistan has no intention of stopping the use of terror to push its agenda. It only wants to use the dialogue with India to achieve the goals it could not achieve through several wars and conflicts, open and through proxy, with India. And, there are no rewards for guessing what it wants - grab Kashmir from India.
Significantly, the Pakistan Army and its chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who has now been given a three year extension, played a major role in ensuring that there was not much of a forward movement at the July 15 Foreign Ministers' meeting.
From all reports, it is clear that General Kayani's intervention resulted in Pakistan insisting on a timeframe for settling the Siachen, Kashmir and Sir Creek issues, which led to the virtual collapse of the Islamabad talks.
Both India and Pakistan are now saying that there has been no breakdown in the dialogue and the possibility of the next round taking place in New Delhi by the end of the year cannot be ruled out.
And even before that, there is a possibility that Krishna and Qureshi may meet in New York in September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session.
Pakistan is ostensibly helping the United States in countering the Taliban in Afghanistan, but at the same time using its spy agency, the ISI to supply arms and other assistance to insurgent groups targeting the allied forces in that country.
This has been fully exposed in the classified military documents put out on the Internet by an organization called WikiLeaks. They show that elements of the Pakistan intelligence agency have been working alongside the Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Al-Qaeda to plan attacks on allied forces in Afghanistan and also on Indian targets.
One of the documents released on the Internet shows that the ISI helped the Lashkar in the terror strike on the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, which killed 58 people, including senior diplomatic officials. It is apparent that while claiming to cooperate with countries like India and the United States, the Pakistan Government and the ISI have been helping terrorist groups seek ways to harm American and Indian interests and attack their facilities.
Instead of taking action against Pakistan for its involvement in the attacks on allied forces in Afghanistan, the United States has been stepping up military and other support for Islamabad. Even after the WikiLeaks expose, the US is trying to find out who leaked the classified documents rather than take action to rectify the sad state of affairs, which they reveal.
It is always good to keep lines of communication open and there would be no harm in leaders and officials of India and Pakistan meeting again. But India would do well not to pitch its expectations from any talks with Pakistan too high.
There is no sign that there will be a change in that scenario any time soon. Pakistan is not going to give up use of terrorism to push its agenda.
This was evident when, coinciding with the Islamabad talks, Pakistan resorted to one of its biggest attempts in recent times to push terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir. It also extended support-motivational as well as financial - for the stone throwing incidents in Kashmir.
The objective was to vitiate the atmosphere in the Kashmir valley, which had earlier witnessed an unprecedented rush of tourists signaling return of normalcy, and use it as a bargaining chip at the Islamabad talks.
India should indeed talk to Pakistan, but it would be unwise to expect much from the dialogue, given the present mood of the real movers and shakers in Islamabad. (ANI)(Mr. B.I. Saini is a political commentator) By B.I. Saini