New Delhi, Aug 7: The ghastly killing of five Indian soldiers at Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir by men in 'Pakistani Army outfits' on Monday has put the recent proposal of resuming dialogue between the two neighbours since the January ceasefire violations and killing of two Indian soldiers under serious threat.
The two sides were working on finalising dates for talks later this month or next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and also over the Tulbul Navigation Project/ Wullar Barrage and Sir Creek issues. The Indian government was yet to make clear its diplomatic stand in the wake of Monday's attacks by Pakistani men across the Line of Control.
The impact of these attacks have been on the expected lines. Questions are being raised whether India should continue to treat Pakistan softly or take a stern stand and pressurise Islamabad to quicken trial of the 26/11 attacks.
Coercive diplomacy doesn't work
The problem is that coercive diplomacy won't work towards any solution. The attacks by those dressed in military outfits and resumption of dialogues between the two neighbours can not be confused for if we decide to suspend talks and close the diplomatic channels, those who are hell-bent to disrupt the bilateral relations and talks for peace will have a clear victory. New Delhi can not afford to take a yes-or-no policy. There must be several shades of diplomacy effective on the ground.
India must carry on the talks and the PM must play a decisive role
India must prioritise issues like granting of MFN status by Pakistan and speedy trial of the 26/11 attacks and most importantly, the Indian prime minister must take the initiative to put the message across the table to his Pakistan counterpart. It is not about feeling angry or disgusted, it is about exhibiting a high level of statecraft. Can Manmohan Singh serve his national interest? That is the billion-dollar question.
Black-and-white Pakistan policy will not help
Nobody is in control of affairs in Pakistan, no matter how many elections the country holds. This also makes it imperative that the Indian Army gets an opportunity to express its views on New Delhi's policies on Pakistan. An approach which makes the political, diplomatic and military establishments its part should be devised to deal with Islamabad. At the moment, it is entirely a black-and-white approach which is often proving counter-productive for New Delhi.
Afghanistan will pose bigger challenge in days ahead
India must also prepare itself for a tougher test in Afghanistan once the Americans leave that country. It is very likely that New Delhi will be facing more attacks and threats once it aims to play a bigger role in South Asia. There is every possibility that the Pakistan will gear up for more atrocious acts against India even if its helpless government might not desire them. But India can not afford to isolate Islamabad in its fight to tackle militants and terrorism.
An irritating neighbour is an inevitable reality in geopolitics and we can not just wish it away. Instead, we must think out ways and means to cope with the reality to ensure that our men and interests are not harmed. The question that arises again: Are we much concerned about real interests rather than rant in the political and media circles?