After the latest Pakistan terror attack across the ceasefire line, it is all the more essential for the Prime Minister to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Mr Nawaz Sharif in New York, as scheduled in late September. Mr Manmohan Singh should meet Mr Sharif to deliver his final ultimatum face-to-face. Readers might recall that on 2 August, it was stated in these columns that continuing the Indo-Pak dialogue is futile unless there is tangible evidence that Pakistan is prepared to stamp out terrorism from the region.
I wrote: “Settling irritants and furthering people to people contacts as a prelude to attempting peace is meaningless. Such efforts can continue for decades and get periodically derailed whenever vested interests supporting terrorism choose to sabotage progress…The credible intent by Pakistan to eliminate terrorism will not be demonstrated merely by suitable legal action on 26/11…It will be demonstrated only if the Pakistan army…accepts in principle that it will enter into joint defence with the Indian army.”
Possibly, New Delhi conveyed something to the Pakistan government through back channel diplomacy. On 5 August, Hindustan Times conducted an interview with the Pakistan Prime Minister&’s adviser on security and foreign affairs, Mr Sartaj Aziz. He told the newspaper that India and Pakistan will shortly resume talks and New Delhi has not set progress in the 26/11 case as a pre-condition. He said India had conveyed its verbal confirmation on resuming talks by early September.
"India is being responsive and there is no pre-condition that has been put forth on connecting the dialogue process with progress in the Mumbai attack trial,” he noted. Did India surrender its pre-condition to attempt a major breakthrough?
One wished Mr Aziz had not conveyed to HT his information and the newspaper had not published the interview. By coincidence or otherwise, the next day, on 6 August, there was a terror incident across the ceasefire line, in which Pakistan regulars and terrorists jointly launched an attack killing five Indian soldiers. Naturally, there was national outrage and demands are flowing thick and fast that the PM should cancel his proposed meeting with Mr Sharif. If there was any movement towards a meaningful dialogue, it has, as earlier feared in these columns, been once again derailed.
That is why Mr Manmohan Singh should meet Mr Sharif and deliver his ultimatum. If the Pakistan PM cannot bring his army on board through a credible public commitment, all peace efforts should end. India then should adopt the hard option.
Through diplomatic moves, New Delhi can hasten the disintegration of Pakistan. It is not necessary to outline how this can be accomplished. Let sceptics rest assured that it can be done.
The writer is a veteran journalist and cartoonist. He blogs at www.rajinderpuri.wordpress.com