It is necessary for India to talk to Pakistan and raise its concerns
with the civilian government there because that very move can help
isolate the forces that spread hatred and terror, former diplomats
and experts here opine.
the notion that diplomatic engagement with the neighbour can take
place only after Islamabad takes concrete action against anti-India
terrorism, the experts who spoke to IANS appeared united in the
belief that dialogue was the only way to solve all problems,
should and we must” was former external affairs minister Natwar
Singh’s response when asked if India should go ahead with the
proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan even after the
Pune terror attack that killed 10 people over the weekend.
diplomat who has served as high commissioner in Islamabad, Natwar
Singh said the engagement between the US and Vietnam was the “finest
example” for India and Pakistan to learn from.
talking even when they were engaged in a war till they solved the
problem. How can you stop diplomatic activities when you want to
resolve certain issues?” Natwar Singh told IANS.
attack, with the inevitable links pointing to terror groups
harboured in Pakistan, has clouded the talks scheduled to take place
in New Delhi Feb 25.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked the government to call off
talks till Pakistan takes credible action against anti-India
terrorism emanating from its soil.
ridiculous to lock ourselves in like a housewife afraid of dacoits
coming from outside,” said Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former minister who
has also done diplomatic duty in Pakistan as India’s consul-general
of the view that it was “absurd of the BJP” to oppose the talks.
talking, do we concede to Pakistan? Do we at all expect that by not
talking to Pakistan anything would be solved?” he asked.
veteran journalist and known peacenik Kuldip Nayar. “These things
(terror attacks) should not be allowed to come in the way of
dialogue. After all, we are going to talk to Pakistan about
terrorism, raise our concerns. How do we solve the problem other
than by engaging with each other?”
a professor of Pakistan studies in the School of International
Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, supported the talks because
“India has a central role in South Asia and cannot afford not to
take smaller neighbours along.”
foreign secretary Salman Haider said the talks with Pakistan were
long overdue as he believed the forces “who don’t want India and
Pakistan to talk” were behind the Pune attack.
defeat these forces and talking is the only option,” he said.
talking to the present Pakistan government solve anything when it is
known that terror sanctuaries in that country receive backing from
the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)?
“There is a
long history that terrorism has received support from ISI and the
army and probably this is not the strongest government in Pakistan,”
said Natwar Singh.
added, “that shouldn’t stop us from talking. We should talk. We
cannot ignore the democratically elected government in Islamabad.”
observed that brushing aside the civilian government “will
strengthen the army and ISI, which have been calling the shots in
the strategic history of Pakistan”.
to give credibility to the civilian regime India should and India
must talk to the government. Doesn’t matter if the (Pakistan) army
is in front of or behind the table,” Uma Singh told IANS.
should India talk to Pakistan about?
not even the question. You engage. Talk and listen. For us to go on
trying to make these subtle distinctions between a focused dialogue
and a non-focused dialogue is, I think, to simply play with the
words… I tell you, we have a strange history of diplomatic
activities with Pakistan,” Aiyar said.
talk to Pakistan when it is most needed but we talk to Pakistan when
it is least needed. Today the engagement is most needed and we
should go ahead.”
Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at