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Peace has a better shot with Modi, Imran-military on same page, unlike Manmohan-Vajpayee days

On peace with India, Pakistan won’t do an about turn this time. It has no one to turn to.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have reciprocated the call for normalisation of ties with Pakistan. In a letter  to PM Imran Khan, conveying his greetings on Pakistan Day, Modi  wrote, “As a neighbouring country, India desires cordial relations with the people of Pakistan. For this, an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility, is imperative.” Modi’s message is ideologically significant because Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of a resolution by the Muslim League on 23 March 1940 to kick start the process for the creation of Pakistan.

Except those engaged in the obvious back-door parleys, the joint statement of the Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan on 25 February — resurrecting the long-forgotten 2003 ceasefire agreement and bringing diplomacy out of the deep freezer after five years — came as a surprise to most.

Three weeks later, on 18 March, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s all- powerful Chief of Army Staff, while speaking at the Islamabad Security Dialogue, sprang a bigger surprise by advocating a vision for Pakistan to transform it from an obsessive “national security state” focusing primarily on military aspects of national security to one giving primacy to economic security and well-being of people. To fulfil this vision, Pakistan requires internal and external peace and a stable relationship with India. While highlighting the need for resolution to the Kashmir dispute, Bajwa steered clear of any pre-conditions for the peace process to move forward beyond the demand for a “conducive environment”. A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had echoed similar views.

Also read: LAC disengagement done. India, China can now return to old love-hate routine

What did General Bajwa say?

General Bajwa envisions Pakistan as being internally stable, at peace with its neighbours, particularly India and Afghanistan, and becoming a regional economic hub bridging the economies of Central, West, South and East Asia. To this end, he also emphasised the need to revive SAARC.

The geoeconomics vision of Pakistan is based on four core pillars — “moving towards a lasting and enduring peace within and outside; non-interference of any kind in the internal affairs of neighbouring and regional countries; boosting intra-regional trade and connectivity; and bringing sustainable development and prosperity through establishment of investment and economic hubs within the region.”

On India-Pakistan relationship, Bajwa said, “Stable Indo-Pak relation is a key to unlock the untapped potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia….It is important to understand that without the resolution of Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity. However, we feel that it is time to bury the past and move forward. But for resumption of peace process or meaningful dialogue, our neighbour will have to create conducive environment, particularly in Indian Occupied Kashmir.”

General Bajwa emphasised that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is at the heart of Pakistan’s economic transformation plan and central to its vision highlighted above.

Also read: Why the military brass is scratching its head over Modi’s Commanders’ Conference speech

And why is that so?

The new vision of Pakistan of becoming a regional economic hub is contingent upon the success of the CPEC, which is the flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. Thus the Chinese economy also gets linked to West, Central and South Asia. CPEC passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, which is Indian territory under illegal occupation of Pakistan. Conflict in this region jeopardises the CPEC.

In a nutshell, Pakistan’s economic future depends on a rapprochement with India and China’s shadow looms large over it. In fact, China had advocated tri- lateral economic cooperation between the three countries during the one-to-one summits at Wuhan and Mahabalipuram between PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. One of the possible political aims of China’s unilateral actions in Eastern Ladakh is to ensure the security of the CPEC by an omnipresent threat and nudge India for negotiations with Pakistan.

Nuclear weapons safeguard Pakistan from an existential threat. However, even the need to maintain a minimum conventional deterrent to stalemate India’s superiority drains its economy. Pakistan does not have the military capability to annex Jammu and Kashmir. Its proxy 4th Generation War in J&K has been neutralised by the Indian Army. State sponsorship of terrorism has created internal threats and instability that discourages foreign investment. The economy is under further strain due to Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sanctions and severe International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions.

Keeping the above in view, rapprochement with India is not a matter of choice but a strategic/economic compulsion. The challenge for Pakistan will be to convince its population high on religious nationalism and rein in the terrorist network that it has created.

Also read: If China-Pakistan came to peace table, BJP’s failed national security strategy helped too

The way forward

Nuclear weapons foreclose any option for India to force compellence on Pakistan, using its conventional superiority. And now, with the threat of a two-front war becoming a reality, this option is a non-starter. For any meaningful retributory action below the nuclear threshold, India does not have the technological military edge. Moreover, Pakistan has adequate military potential to force a stalemate in any war/conflict situation. Ironically, Pakistan’s position is similar to that of India’s with respect to China.

It is interesting to note that the recent developments are a mirror image of the peace initiatives of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Manmohan Singh-Parvez Musharraf era from 2003 to 2008, which evolved the Four Point Solution. However, the Pakistani military backed off when Musharraf was forced to resign on 18 August 2008, and its sponsored terrorists scuttled the peace process with 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. The military did the same to PM Modi’s outreach to the elected government in Pakistan from 2014 to 2015. However, this time, Pakistan’s military is on board. General Bajwa could not have moved forward without taking the Corps Commanders into confidence. The rank and file of the Pakistani military is as professional as ours and unlikely to break ranks. Prime Minister Modi’s popularity and political skills can carry the nation with him. Same is true for the military in Pakistan.

As far as the “conducive environment” in J&K is concerned, it is as much our political compulsion as a token pre-condition of Pakistan for the peace process to move forward. In my view, restoration of statehood, engagement with all stakeholders and an elected government will meet the requirement. General Bajwa has already committed to meet PM Modi’s three conditions – “an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility”, but he has to walk the talk. The sharp decline in the number of Pakistani terrorist killed/active in J&K is a possible indication of its intent.

Let there be no doubt that both countries understand borders cannot be redrawn but economic cooperation can certainly make them irrelevant. We have the European Union model before us where a blood-soaked past has been long forgotten. Considering our own strategic limitations to force compellence,  there is no harm in moving forward with an economy-driven peace process. As per my assessment, Pakistan’s future is at stake and it will not do an about-turn because it has nowhere to turn to.

Lt Gen H S Panag PVSM, AVSM (R) served in the Indian Army for 40 years. He was GOC in C Northern Command and Central Command. Post retirement, he was Member of Armed Forces Tribunal. Views are personal.

Edited by Anurag Chaubey

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  1. Never trust Pakistan.It has a history of betrayal.Some of our prestitutes are playing the anti national card.

  2. Pakistan’s peace efforts with India is due to its economic problems and only waiting for a weak Indian government without Modi.

  3. If the claim on cruising speed of economy of country is true then it’s better toust ignore them 🙂🙂😉 at present and concentrate on pushing economy up further. Afterall it will be a matter of time when they are going to come with a begging ☺️🤣☺️ bowl and then we can take the call

  4. If our paths of progress is true then it’s better to ignore them 🤠😜😸 atleast at present 🎁. As jaggery attracts ants so will progress attract all east or west. Just keep pushing economy all’other things will automatically fall in line.

  5. Infiltration in the IB or LOC must completely stop. Pakistan must stop financing the fifth columnists in India be they terrorists, or stone pelters, or its stooges in the media and academia. India must not accept the detente unless it is assured that Pakistan has backed off. Secondly, the corrupt political culture of Kashmir has to change fully. Until then, Statehood cannot be restored.

  6. There will be no peace with Pakistan unless all Pakistani converted into Hindus or mecca and Medina destroyed with reestablish of Hindu temple.. If both not happen then there is no peace between us.. Peace talks will remain only paper, articles, debate.. Reality always zero..

    • @Srinivasan: Spot on! The fight for Hindu sanatan has to start at home! Hindu temples need to be freed from government prisons & made into Gurukuls!! India itself has to turn sanatani in all it’s domestic & external actions!!

      Blindly following the west won’t cut ice as it’s developed only because of robbed science & wealth from India, China..!! The need of the hour is innovation inspired from native civilization!

    • You are absolutely correct. Pakistan should remerged with India being Hindu and pure Hindustani. Or Pakistan hands over to India the whole territory of J&K. Or all muslims of India go to Pakistan. As such, India don’t need peace with Pakistan. But, Pakistan needs. So Pak should comply with the conditions put by India, not otherway at all. India is ready to fight four front war like in 1971.

  7. India is in no hurry to make truce with Pakistan. All these conciliatory moves being made by Pakistan are sheerly out of compulsion that they are caught between a rock and a hard place. India should maintain status quo for the next 15 years, keep Pakistan under it’s boots, and Pakistan will disintegrate into pieces and simply implode. And that’s what India should be working on. A totally fragmented, weakened Pakistan will serve India’s interests and we should do everything possible to completely break away balochistan and Sindh from Pakistan.

  8. Indian media speaks the language of Pakistan/China than India’s!

    This author says: Pakistan has adequate military potential.. similar to that of India’s with respect to China.” So is he saying that in any war between Pakistan & China, there will be stalemate??!!

    He goes on.. “Pakistani military is as professional as ours..” Really?? Pakistan military is high on Jihadi agenda & is NOT a professional military to be compared with India!!

    This retired military guy is high on drugs just as 90% of Indian media led by Congress & cronies!!

    • This isn’t 1971 that was a civil war in east pak and military political instability in west pak with no shared land border pakistan may be a smaller country but it’s no pushover your army knows that otherwise you could of easily retaliated when we intruded into your airspace and destroyed 2 of your fighter planes you resorted threats of missile strikes we responded that for every one you send we will respond with 9 what did mr 56″ do nothing we’ve controlled afghanistan through our proxy taliban Chinese ladakh intrusion wouldn’t of happened without ISI help they’ve made you accept 1959 claim line

  9. Looming financial stress is known to all. Unless immediate and Intense correction is made, Pakistan may have to survive on doles from China which is a communist country with rigid anti religion views.
    Religious fundamentalism of Pakistan is a gross lie that masks hatred towards India created through years of wrong political propaganda.
    Unless correction is made immediately ,Pakistan will surely dive into a disastrous state.
    Every true member of the civil society in India wants peace which will pave for economic betterment which only can achieve lasting peace.

  10. panag uncle says , “The rank and file of the Pakistani military is as professional as ours ” so pakistan army cut indian solders head, and tortures so does that call professionalism? How many pak solders head panag uncle cut when he was on duty.

    • @Jon Track: Spot one!!

      These leftists are brainless & clueless!! They are also a poison for native civilizations & nations; be it India or USA!!

  11. J&k,mumbai attack losses of life ?? How do we compensate? ? No ways j&k . If that is the case peace cannot be . how about india influence terrorist in karachi ?? We have maintained our dignity. Still no offence.

  12. J&k,mumbai attack losses of life ?? How do we compensate? ? No ways j&k . If that is the case peace cannot be . how about india influence terrorist in karachi ?? We have maintained our dignity. Still no offence.

  13. Pakistan is speaking through Indian media

    Afterall majority of Indian media are monthpieces of different countries except India

    Given the character of “The Print ” , Pakistan is the best guardian & Master

    • @Anil Kumar: Absolutely correct!! Nowhere in Europe, America or China this happens!!

      High time, Indian media & people speak for India!! The media monopolies have to be broken & people educated so that a true India emerges!!

  14. India came to its knees because it cannot afford a two front war – the amassing of PLA throughout HImachal with conventional and non conventional weapons made india to obey what China is asking (Watch great Defense Analyst Col. Pravin Sawhiny Vlog on YouTube or Force Magazine). There is an ample reason why India who accused Pakistan saying “Terror and Talks can’t go through” are coming to the point that they wanted seize fire on LOC, talking on Indus water treaty and even talking about Pakistan India cricket while Modi is sending wishes to Pakistan in 23 March. This wouldn’t be possible unless Modi has a fear that massive PLA would attack northern border and Pakistan would jump the fence on western border.

    • @Stephen k: China ran with tail between it’s legs and yet India came to its knees??
      If you are Indian, you should be ashamed of yourself & your ideology/religion!!

    • Begger can’t be choser. Whatsoever talks are happening is on indian terms. Whenever India wants they will kick pak out of talks.

  15. Looking at all the Paki assets in India rooting for peace and “aman ki asha” this seems to be another ploy to fool everyone again.
    All Paki assets in India active now preaching peace. As a nation if we don’t learn we will keep getting into the same pit again and again and again.

  16. Yes.

    Let’s make the borders irrelevant.

    And expand our exchange of goods, services and tourism, especially medical tourism.

    EU model, where past enemies are today’s partners, is imperative for us.

  17. This is historical step by both nations..Han. Jo Jo chootiye chahte hain k cease fire na ho vo apni gand jaha border pe aake mraye..kyo tum chootio Ko Aman chain pasand nahi..kyo logo ke bete marvake hath ma pop corn leke TV par sirf tbahi ki news dekhna chahte ho..

  18. If borders cannot be redrawn, why do we keep fantasising about Gilgit – Baltistan. Have its residents expressed the faintest interest to be rejoined with the motherland. And if the territorial status quo is sacrosanct, why do we go ballistic over the CPEC. The simple fact is that Pakistan alone is not responsible for this particularly arid phase in the relationship. Khair, der aaye, durust aaye.

  19. Sir, respect to your age. bur seriously, how do you pick up topic to write. who is asking for your opinion.
    Bharat is in a safe hand; don’t worry..

    ! Keeping our Security SAFEGUARDING AS PRIORITY we must Handle Pakistan very Delicately to ESTABLISH A LONG LASTING PEACEFUL RELATIONSHIPS with them.

    With Best Wishes For Betterment Always ,

  21. Mombati gang is again pushing PAK ARMY’s propaganda.
    THE terror infrastructure in Pakistan is intact.

    LET n JAISH E MOHAMMED are a mask PAK ARMY wears while carrying out terror attacks in INDIA to escape responsibility.

    Until pakistan re-educates it’s population away from a HINDU hating jihadi producing education to a scientific and modern outlook giving education then perhaps 20 years later we might have peace.

    INDIANS must be wary of the mombati gang types who are the weapons pakistan plans to use against INDIA.

    • @Data: Absolutely correct!!

      India must also re-educate it’s people who are against this splendid nation & civilization!! They find roof & shelter here & yet spit poison & speak language of India’s enemies!! If this is not their motherland then they should move where it is!!

      Re-education of morons & poisonous snakes, especially leftists/Jihadis is a must!! This includes 90% of Indian media!!

  22. Modi is no Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh. He knows, no talks with terror is working well, still long way to go but that is hearting Pakistan more than India. He will only keep Pakistan in good humor, he is a quick learner, so the Aman Ki Asha gangs need to hold their horses. If at all there might be some symbolic concessions but without any financial gains to Pakistan.

  23. It is a win win situation for both if the pease talks come through, as there is no point in fighting the Useless proxy war.

  24. The author says : “Let there be no doubt that both countries understand borders cannot be redrawn…”. Call me hopelessly naive, but India should and must go for the territory illegally taken over by Pakistan as an outcome of these peace measures. The benefits are multi fold, the direct connect to Afghanistan which would pave way for our connection to central Asia without Pakistan pushing the buttons to cut it off at will, Indian control over the BRI part passing through its territory and more importantly adorning the crown back again on top of India’s head. A lot of factors can still ruin the handover if at all it is implemented, the Taliban could play spoilsport , local G&B demographic’s issues with India, China’s objection to the design and so on. But if we do manage to get the territory back, I think these ad hoc problems can be dealt with comfortably.

  25. Do not trust Pakistan, verify & re-verify.

    Retired military leaders can pontificate all they want, reality is this, both societies are getting increasingly radical and present relationship is used as a convenient fodder to fan the fires. Keep the pressure on and let Pakistan focus on itself.

  26. With Pakistan, we should keep nothing to interpretation or understanding. Everything must be crisp and clear with no two ways to think about it.

    Pakistan understands only might, which India has acquired under Modi. Hence, one can be hopeful that they will understand Modi.

    However deep state as well as Mullahs must be brought on same page with politicians and army

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