19 Nov 2011

Walking the Pakistani Tightrope

Even though relations between the two rivals are normalizing. It is in vast contrast to what lays underneath the surface.
The move by Pakistan to grant India the MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status was welcomed by a big majority in the diplomatic circles and was hailed as move towards a shift in the relationship between the two nuclear states. Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani who met in Maldives recently decided to break the deadlock that the two countries were in since after 26/11. Yet there continue to be rumors that there is a lot more than meets the eyes.

The UPA government which is at the moment at its lowest ever in public popularity is doings its desperate best in an attempt save face. With allegations against members of India Against Corruption rising, the government at the moment remains fairly convinced that it might have a chance in the state elections that are coming up in the next two years leading up to the general election in 2014. But even as the elections at the state level happen, there is a lot of reason for the UPA to take care in the way it deals with issues like terrorism, nowadays a major vote-puller in India.

Though the number of attacks in the country have decreased a lot, there still continues to exist a state of uncertainty among the populace as they deal with a neighbour (Pakistan) which every day heads close to either a military coup or take over by Islamic fundamentalists. The anger in India continues to be at the same level as after 26/11 with many a facebook pages coming up with negative results regarding celebrating the return to normal relations between India and Pakistan. Youth in India is eyeing every development with a keen eye, ready to get out on the street and corner the government for any mistake that they make. Hence, the ability of the UPA government to deal effectively with Pakistan will determine their odd of winning the upcoming elections. 

Carefully keeping the 'Kashmir' issue off the table, the government has succeeded in brushing of concerns of an 'unfavorable' round of table talks. With an on-going dispute between Omar Abdullah, the Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister, and the army already heating up the atmosphere in the country, including the Kashmir issue would have been a certain death warrant for the present Government. But the step to not include talks on punishment of the terrorist is also a bold step for this government which faces continuous flak from BJP, the primary opposition party,  for any and every mistake that it is committing in recent times.

Hence any progress between the two countries at best is balanced on a thin line at the moment. With internal pressure mounting on the UPA government to prove it's worth, the Pakistan card might just be the trump card that the government desperately needs at the moment. If India is successful in getting Pakistan to hand or even punish the culprits of the 26/11 attack, then it will be a guarantee that the odds against the Congress for the 2014 general election would have been countered and all parties would be on the same starting point.

Thus even as India tries to do its best to reach out to Pakistan, India's friendliness would directly depend on what Pakistan is able to do against terrorism. Any further attack on Indian soil would not only damage but paralyze the relationship for a long time if not permanently. Thus the onus is now on Pakistan to show results as the UPA government puts everything on line for their Pakistan card.