- Gen Bajwa’s message
Despite its fair share of foreign policy failures, the government has been handling the problems with India in the correct manner lately. The political government has long since thrown the ball into India’s court; repeating its desire to ‘negotiate core matters’ at every relevant forum. The army, despite compulsions to respond in kind to repeated LoC and working boundary violations, has also quite rightly stressed the need to negotiate every now and then. Just as General Bajwa did at the PMA passing out the other day. Such posturing matters internationally. Increasingly, Islamabad is coming across as the party willing to move forward as Delhi clings on to the status quo.
That, of course, is no longer a position India can take indefinitely. Already Congress is cutting into BJP’s foreign policy extremism as India’s own elections nears. Parts of the Indian press are counting on the government to pull the date from next year to late 2018. Ironically, opposition parties now criticising the Pakistan policy are accusing BJP’s extremism of turning India into a “Hindu Pakistan”. It might not be quite on the mark but it does put internal pressure on the government, on top of the foreign pressure Pakistan’s tactics are beginning to exert.
At stake, of course, is principally the lives of millions of Kashmiris forever held hostage to a conflict rooted in a bygone era and no longer even relevant. Then there are millions more that are kept from the benefits of better Pak-India relations, not to mentions the hundreds of thousands always prepared to fight each other. India’s market and democracy credentials win it vital political points in capitals that matter, yet slowly the opportunity cost of not moving forward will become too high for both countries. It remains to be seen, of course, how the Modi government treats this, especially so close to the election.