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Attempts to jeopardise India-Pakistan relations worrisome, say experts
Tuesday August 6, 2013 11:10 PM, IANS

As anger over the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops reverberated in parliament Tuesday, experts said the attempts to create tension with the Jalalabad suicide attack and the Poonch killings were a worrisome trend and that despite talk of friendship India should harbor no illusions about Pakistan.

Five soldiers were killed when men in Pakistani military uniform ambushed an army patrol at Chakan-da-Bagh sector of the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan early Tuesday.

While former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said the Jalalabad attack and the Poonch killings showed that the combine of Pakistani military, the ISI and jehadi groups had become active again, former deputy national security advisor Leela K. Ponappa said India should calibrate its engagement with Islamabad in order to give the message that the attacks were unacceptable.

Former Indian consul general in Karachi Rajiv Dogra suggested that India put a pause to the dialogue process that is set to be resumed.

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar said bilateral relations were becoming better, but the killings would "definitely jeopardise talks which were to start".

"This process will stop again," said the former MP.

"The opposition parties will get a handle. Everybody is looking towards elections. It might be exploited to the extent it should not be...The ruling party is going to be afraid of what happens now," Nayar, an ardent proponent of good India-Pakistan good ties, told IANS.

Sibal said the positive atmosphere sought to be created because of the feeling that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could open up a new chapter in bilateral ties have received a jolt.

The former foreign secretary told IANS that India should be "genuinely concerned about what seems to be emerging as attempts to create tensions between the two countries".

He said the Jalalabad suicide attack near the Indian mission in which nine Afghans were killed last Saturday and Tuesday's killing in Poonch "suggests that the Pakistani military, ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and jihadi groups combine has become active. This is consistent with Nawaz Sharif's design to project Jammu and Kashmir on the international stage and the long- standing context of his party's link with jehandi groups and the lack of mutual trust between him and the military.

These are worrisome trends, he said, and added that Sharif has been "too slow" in taking any concrete gestures such as granting Most Favoured Nation status to India or in expediting the trial of the accused in the 2008 Mumbai attack in order to improve relations.

"What we have been seeing is negative trends," Sibal added.

Ponappa said that people "tend to forget realities" and "this is the kind of behavior you have to expect from Pakistan".

The former deputy national security advisor said India should keep Pakistan's behavior in mind and calibrate its engagement "in a way that it does not send mixed signals – that we can't accept this kind of thing."

She said she had "always maintained that Pakistan will try to make you move on positive things - because they are seeking legitimization with their own people and the international community, while carrying on this kind of activity. Given the realities of Pakistan, you cannot expect anything better".

Ponappa said Sharif's saying he wanted normalization of ties with India was nothing new. "(Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto said it, Benazir (Bhutto) said it, nothing has changed. Everybody says they want good relations but you have to see the reality on the ground."

She said she hated to sound pessimistic but "unfortunately, dealing with Pakistan has to be based on not what you want but what you are dealing with".

"You have to recognize the reality of what you are dealing with, then you will never have illusions about it," Ponappa added.

Dogra said that Indian must stop the dialogue process. "..The first step should be to put a pause button on the (secretary level) talks and depending on Pakistan's delivery in terms of apology and correction, we can consider the fate of the talks at the PM level."

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