India succumbing to ‘extreme pressure,’ experts say

In the letter written by PM Khan to Modi, he had said that Pakistan was ready to discuss terrorism and that talks on “trade, people-to-people contacts, religious tourism and humanitarian issues were also important.” (AFP/File)
Updated 22 September 2018
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India succumbing to ‘extreme pressure,’ experts say

  • Cite upcoming elections as reason for cancelation of high-levels talks with Pakistan
  • PM Khan blasts New Delhi for its “arrogant and negative” response 

KARACHI: Lamenting India’s failure to put derailed bilateral relations back on track, experts said New Delhi’s decision to call off high-level talks, as proposed by Islamabad, was a result of “extreme pressure” faced by Indian PM Narendra Modi’s government ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Modi is under extreme pressure and maybe he will win the upcoming elections by appeasing the extremists but he has lost his credibility as a world leader by negatively responding to a very positive Pakistani call,” Tajammul Altaf, former Ambassador of Pakistan to China and UK, said.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his disappointment at India’s decision to cancel the meeting — between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj — which was scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York this week.
PM Khan had initiated the idea for the meeting in a letter addressed to PM Modi on September 14. India had agreed to the meeting on Thursday but canceled a day later.
Terming India’s response as “arrogant and negative,” PM Khan took to Twitter to post a strongly-worded comment, wherein he said: “All my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” he said.
Reasoning that PM Modi and his party used an anti-Pakistan agenda to strengthen their vote bank in the previous elections, Professor Tahir Malik, an academic and an analyst, blamed hard-liners and hawks within India for the talks being called off. “Modi and his party don’t want to lose their support base just months ahead of the general elections in India,” he said.
Malik said that while there is still a window of opportunity for bilateral talks to resume in the near future, any such proposal would be possible only after the upcoming elections.
Ruing that “this is not the first time that Modi has taken a U-turn,” Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an Islamabad-based analyst and professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at Quaid-e-Azam University, said: “He made a surprise visit of Lahore in December 2015 but as soon as his plane landed in Delhi, his tone changed.”
Drawing attention to Modi’s failed campaign promises, ex-envoy Altaf said that he has nothing new to present to his voters. “The demonetization drive backfired badly and according to the RBI, 99.3% of the money is back,” Altaf said, adding that unemployment has also surged during Modi’s regime, leading to his extreme unpopularity at home.
In the letter written by PM Khan to Modi, he had said that Pakistan was ready to discuss terrorism and that talks on “trade, people-to-people contacts, religious tourism and humanitarian issues were also important.”
Jaspal, however, said he wasn’t very hopeful about the stalled dialogue resuming anytime soon. Reasoning that the cancelation of talks and the upcoming elections were just a cover for a bigger problem, he said that “our history with our neighbor shows that India has never wanted to see a stable Pakistan.”


No quick breakthrough in Taliban talks, warns Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. (REUTERS)
Updated 43 min 35 sec ago
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No quick breakthrough in Taliban talks, warns Ghani

  • The Taliban do not trust Ghani ... and there is no possibility of any compromise between Ghani and the Taliban
  • Afghan president says deal not possible without a ‘regional consensus’

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani said late on Friday that a breakthrough in Afghanistan’s peace process will require more time.
“We consider the US commitment to a political solution to be credible and are coordinating to build the necessary international consensus on peace. But without a regional consensus on peace and addressing Taliban’s interdependencies with their supporters, breakthroughs will take time,” Ghani said.
Ghani made the comments on Friday at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. His remarks are his first in public since a series of talks between US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Taliban emissaries held in recent months in Qatar.
Afghan government delegates were excluded from the discussions because the Taliban consider Ghani’s administration a puppet of the West.
Khalilzad is in Afghanistan hoping to revive talks between the Taliban and other Afghans, including government delegates, after Ghani called off such a gathering in April in Qatar. Ghani summoned a grand traditional assembly, or Loya Jirga, afterwards in Kabul to set a mechanism for talks with the Taliban.
In Bishkek, Ghani said his government’s mandate for seeking peace with the Taliban comes from the 23-point resolution of the Jirga.
He said that “although the Afghan war is multi-dimensional, reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban is a key component for the reduction of violence.”
Ghani put forward four proposals for an Afghan peace deal. It includes the formation of a regional and international coalition for peace and the creation of a regional task force to develop bankable programs and projects for regional connectivity and poverty reduction.
He said dealing with drugs as a driver of conflict and criminality should be comprehensively addressed within the peace-making and peace-building framework. Agreeing to a regional framework for fighting terrorism was also essential.
Ghani said his government will hold the presidential elections on Sept. 28, which have been delayed twice so far. Some of Ghani’s rivals accuse him of using government resources in his favor for the poll, while other politicians, including Khalilzad, favor postponing the poll until the talks with Taliban have finished so that the latter can also take part in the elections.
Jamaludin Badar, a former governor who is a member of the government-appointed High Peace Council, said that, given the regional and international involvement in Afghanistan’s long war and the complication of the conflict, headway cannot been expected soon in the talks.
“There are countries in the region and beyond who want their interest to be protected in Afghanistan post the peace deal,” he told Arab News. “So it is natural for the peace process to drag on and on. These countries have a consensus on ending the war, but not on their interests and future involvement here.”
Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, an analyst, said: “Ghani wants to remain in power for another five years and makes different comments at different juncture of time. The Taliban do not trust Ghani ... and there is no possibility of any compromise between Ghani and the Taliban.”