D. SUBA CHANDRAN
February 28, 2015
PTINO MORE SKIRMISHES: “Maintaining peace along the LoC should be a primary concern for India.” Army jawans near the LoC.
As there is a downswing in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, this is an opportunity for Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to reshape the dialogue process
After taking over as Foreign Secretary, S. Jaishankar’s trip to Islamabad in early March, to resume the Indo-Pak dialogue, should be the most important for him. He has a credible record as former Ambassador in establishing good relations with China and the U.S.; will he be able to add an Indo-Pak feather to his cap?
As there is a recent downswing in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, this is an opportunity for Mr. Jaishankar to reshape the dialogue process, making it credible and productive. Critics would point out that there is pressure from the U.S. on India to restart the dialogue, but there is a similar, perhaps an intense, pressure on Pakistan, too. Besides multiple visits by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Islamabad, there have also been blunt messages from the U.S. to Rawalpindi to restart the dialogue process.
A second opportunity for Mr. Jaishankar, which is also a challenge, is related to the recent developments on Pakistan’s western border. Under Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, there has been a substantial upswing in Afghan-Pakistan relations, including a possible dialogue with the Taliban.
The third opportunity for Mr. Jaishankar emanates from Pakistan’s domestic compulsions: a section within Pakistan talks about terrorism as an existential threat and links the problem to the skewed policies of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in using militants and jihad as a foreign policy strategy towards India and Afghanistan.