He Tried His Best

Source: Getty
Op-Ed Indian Express
Summary
There is no avoiding the conclusion that Manmohan Singh will end his prime ministerial tenure without advancing his vision to transform India's relations with Pakistan.
Related Topics
Related Media and Tools
 

After his low-key meeting in New York with Nawaz Sharif on Sunday, there is no avoiding the conclusion that Manmohan Singh will end his prime ministerial tenure without advancing his vision to transform India's relations with Pakistan.

Singh is not alone. Many of his predecessors, some of them much stronger leaders than him, over the last quarter of a century have sought but failed to change the structure of India-Pakistan relations, despite much investment of political capital and diplomatic energies.
 
Mohan is a nonresident senior associate in Carnegie’s South Asia Program, where his research focuses on international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues.
C. Raja Mohan
Nonresident Senior Associate
South Asia Program
More from this author...
Given the burden of history and extended conflict, negotiating with Pakistan has never been easy. But unlike his predecessors, Singh has certainly had more opportunities to take important steps forward but could not convert them into practical results, thanks to the dissipating domestic political consensus on Pakistan.
 
Rajiv Gandhi reached out to General Zia-ul-Haq during 1985-88 and made an all-out bid to seek a rapprochement with Benazir Bhutto, who succeeded the military dictator. By the time Rajiv's tenure came to an end in 1989, the relationship with Pakistan was in tatters as the Pakistan army, flush with a newly minted nuclear deterrent, fanned the flames of insurgency in Kashmir with impunity.
 
A decade later, Atal Bihari Vajpayee faced a daunting challenge as cross-border terrorism from Pakistan acquired great intensity. At the same time, the international pressures to mediate on Kashmir acquired some traction. He had to reverse the Pakistani aggression in Kargil in the summer of 1999 and manage the prolonged military confrontation that followed the terror attack on Parliament in December 2001.
 
Vajpayee, however, kept faith with the proposition that changing the relationship with Pakistan was in India's national security interest. After trial and error — which included his visit to Lahore in February 1999 and the invitation to General Pervez Musharraf to visit Agra in July 2001 — Vajpayee successfully hammered out a framework for building peace with Pakistan when he travelled to Islamabad in January 2004. Meanwhile, Vajpayee's significant outreach to the United States helped make Washington neutral on the Kashmir question and reduce the international pressures on India.
 
The Vajpayee-Musharraf framework involved three elements: Pakistan army reins in cross-border terrorism, India negotiates on Kashmir, and the two sides put in place expansive confidence-building measures. The most important of these was the agreement in November 2003 to observe a ceasefire on the international border and the Line of Control in Kashmir. As the BJP went in for early elections, Vajpayee was confident he would return to power and accelerate the peace process with Pakistan. That was not to be.
 
Singh, who inherited a positive dynamic with Pakistan, sought to advance the Vajpayee framework. As Musharraf brought cross-border militancy under some control, Singh opened a back channel on Kashmir. These were the first talks on the subject since the failed negotiations of 1962-63. The expansion of CBMs saw the steady growth in trade and people-to-people contact. Despite this good beginning and a strong conviction on pursuing peace in the subcontinent, Singh is leaving the Pakistan relationship in a state of greater flux than he found it in 2004.
 
Any diplomatic engagement involves some difficult internal negotiation. The PM has had his share of problems in talking to Pakistan. There is no doubt that the series of terror incidents over the last decade tended to break the momentum in the peace process. But it was the inability to dominate the domestic debate that eventually crippled Singh's Pakistan policy.
 
If the BJP has been unwilling to cut much slack for the prime minister on Pakistan, the Left parties, obsessed as they are with opposing the US, have offered little encouragement to Singh's regional peace initiatives. The most damaging factor, however, was the lack of enthusiasm in the Congress high command for Singh's outreach to Pakistan. What made it worse was the prime minister's reluctance to assert his authority over the different bureaucratic agencies that had a say in the making of Pakistan policy. His temptation to follow the line of least resistance meant a squandering of the fleeting moments of opportunity that presented themselves.
 
In mid-2005, for example, after Musharraf's visit to India, agreements on the Siachen and Sir Creek disputes were within reach. But the PM was unwilling to either overrule the sceptical bureaucracy or persuade the conservative leadership of the Congress party to go ahead. By the time he was ready to go to Pakistan in early 2007, Musharraf's power had begun to erode rapidly.
 
Singh's persistent efforts to revive the peace process with Pakistan paid some important dividends again in 2012, when the two sides successfully negotiated a road map for the normalisation of trade relations and a liberalisation of the visa regime. Yet, when reports on the mutilation of Indian soldiers on the LoC came to light in January, a panicked establishment overreacted. That, in turn, brought an end to the engagement with Asif Ali Zardari, who had been more eager than most previous leaders to normalise relations with India.
 
As the Congress becomes more nervous about talks with Pakistan and UPA 2's political stock begins to evaporate, Singh's New York encounter with Sharif was bound to be tentative. While some small steps may yet be possible under Singh, it will now be up to the next government to develop a coherent strategy towards Pakistan.
 
Singh's successor, however, might find the going even tougher, as our northwestern frontiers become more volatile in the months ahead. Posturing for domestic audiences on Pakistan in election year is easy. But dealing with the challenges emanating from an increasingly unstable Pakistan will not be. And if we don't draw the right lessons from Manmohan Singh's failures, there will be no end to the tragedy of India's Pakistan policy.
 
End of document

About the South Asia Program

The Carnegie South Asia Program informs policy debates relating to the region’s security, economy, and political development. From the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan’s internal dynamics to U.S. engagement with India, the Program’s renowned team of experts offer in-depth analysis derived from their unique access to the people and places defining South Asia’s most critical challenges.

 

Comments (2)

 
 
  • Anjaan
    The post 2014 scenario, following American withdrawal from the region, is likely to be explosive for India.

    While Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif is spreading an impression around the world that Pakistan is game for genuine normalization of relations with India, Pakistan's military establishment is preparing for a one final do or die push into Kashmir, post 2014. It is common knowledge that Pakistan is planning to divert from Afghanistan, and unleash a large portion of its proxy Jihadis against India. The Keran sector infiltration by the Pakistan based terrorists, and the massive arms and ammunition dump discovered there points to the sinister Pakistani design, and a massive preparation for the post 2014 operations in Kashmir.

    India needs to make preparations to face the challenges staring at its face, post 2014, than be mesmerized by the smoke and mirrors of Pakistani diplomacy.
       
     
     
    Reply to this post

     
    Close Panel
  • Javed Mir
    --up to the next government to develop a coherent strategy towards Pakistan--

    All said is a repetition of the recent most events relating to both the countries -- but more relevantly put, unless Kashmir dispute is not settled equitably and according to the UNO resolutions, if not outright war. atleast friction between the two countries will continue indefinitely.
     
     
    Reply to this post

     
    Close Panel
  • Report Abuse
Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/10/01/he-tried-his-best/gosd

In Fact

 

45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address in the field below to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
 
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-2103 Phone: 202 483 7600 Fax: 202 483 1840
Please note...

You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。