Rhetorical shift

When Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, left for Islamabad to attend the 12th SAARC summit, he ruled out any possibility of bilateral talks with Pakistan. There were no indications whatsoever of any intention to resume a dialogue, the need for which the absurd geopolitics of the Subcontinent has sustained precisely by interrupting it periodically for all manner of spurious reasons. But, with all the predictable unpredictability of such tire-some diplomacy, within hours of reaching Islamabad, Vajpayee reversed his stated position and declared that India is never shy of talking and expressed readiness to resolve all pending differences with Pakistan, including those that revolve around the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Three days of hectic talks followed that statement which resulted in a joint statement by the two countries expressing their resolve to resume talks. An event that had been staged on the sidelines of the SAARC jamboree eventually sidelined the main summit and itself became the principal draw, reducing the Southasian body to its customary insignificance as the ceremonial proxy for the distant dream of regional co-operation.

The unfolding of events at Islamabad was more or less on expected lines but it definitely raised the level curiosity as to what exactly transpired between the leader-ship of the two countries. Those who have watched India-Pakistan developments will not pin much hope on such joint statements as this could be just another pause in the never-ending acrimony that defines relations between the two countries. To believe that India will give Kashmir on a platter to Pakistan or that Pakistan will forfeit its claim over Jammu and Kashmir is the kind of naiveté that the fifty-year history of acrimony does not permit. In which case, what was the dramatic trigger that gave rise to the desire to resume talks that, at least for the present, do not inspire any confidence about their capacity to bury the past?

Loading content, please wait...
Himal Southasian