India desperate for a Photo Op, Pakistan should beware

September 27, 2010



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A joint photograph of Pakistan’s foreign minister with his Indian counterpart in New York could do wonders on the pro-freedom demonstrators in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Indian officials have concluded.

India is desperate in Kashmir and is hoping that a joint photograph of Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers in New York would prove a damper for the Kashmiri demonstrators, showing them Pakistan is ‘onboard’ with India’s handling of the killings in the disputed region.

This is why the Indian government is using every India-sympathizer in Washington and inside the Obama administration to convince Pakistan to send its foreign minister to shake hands with India’s S. M. Krishna for the cameras.

Would Pakistan do it?

The race is certainly on and it seems there are some key figures in Islamabad who wouldn’t mind obliging the Indians and the Americans.

Early morning today a frantic text message reached Dr. Shireen M. Mazari, the editor of Pakistan’s The Nation daily newspaper. The message was simple:

“[President] Zardari & [Pakistan envoy to Washington Husain] Haqqani are desperately arranging for [Pakistani foreign minister] Shah Mehmood Qureshi to meet Indian foreign minister without agenda & without concrete Indian commitment to talks. Shah Mehmood is reluctant but US is pressurizing to give Indians chance to show Kashmiris that Pakistan is on board.”

Strangely, the message didn’t mention the name of Abdullah Haroon, an India-enthusiast appointed by Mr. Zardari as Pakistan’s envoy to the UN.

Dr. Mazari came on television by midday to break the news on a television channel owned by her newspaper.

If the move succeeds, India will walk away with an important psychological achievement at a crucial time, while Pakistan won’t get much, as usual.

The Indian desperation for this photo-op can be judged from the diplomatic moves India has initiated in the last five days to lure Pakistan into a meeting.

To ensure Pakistan falls for the trap, Indian officials have been generously mentioning ‘Kashmir’ and ‘Pakistan’ in the same sentence, creating the right atmospherics for jubilation in some Pakistani circles [‘Wow, India is conceding its position on Kashmir …’].

But a careful look at these statements shows a desperate India cooking up a ruse

  1. NIRUPAMA RAO: The India foreign secretary was apparently the first to be tasked with luring Pakistan into a photo-op in New York. She issued a misleading statement in Boston, US, saying India is ready to discuss ‘all outstanding issues’ with Pakistan ‘including Kashmir.’ Unfortunately, much of the Pakistani and world media ignored the remainder of her statement. Buried somewhere else in her media interaction was the line, “It is an internal affair because it (Kashmir) is an integral part of India.” So, is India discussing Kashmir or not? Ms. Rao’s next line explains it all: “The issue of Jammu & Kashmir comes up in our relationship with Pakistan and we’ve said very clearly, very confidently and very transparently that we are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan.”  What India’s second most senior diplomat is saying is that ‘Kashmir does come up in our bilateral relationship’ with Pakistan in the form of the so-called cross-border terrorism and Pakistani meddling in Kashmir. The choice of words is careful not to indicate any concession to Pakistan.
  2. S. M. KRISHNA: Her boss, the foreign minister, has reiterated over the weekend that Pakistan can’t force India to discuss Kashmir in future talks because his country won’t accept ‘preconditions’, which means another round of endless talks where India will keep delaying Kashmir while insisting on discussing nonissues such as trade and cultural exchanges.
  3. S. M. KRISHNA: In a classic sign of Indian desperation, Mr. Krishna couldn’t wait a day to throw coldwater on the feel-good effect of his number two’s statement when he childishly advised Pakistan to ‘stay out of Kashmir’ and vacate ‘its side of Kashmir’ before ‘lecturing’ Indian on what to do in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

These statements underline how desperate India is this time on Kashmir. If Pakistan goes full throttle now and demands international intervention to stop Indian state-sponsored Kashmir genocide, New Delhi can’t cry foul. It can’t say Pakistan is feeding the insurgency, not when thousands of Kashmiris have shown they want Indian occupiers out. Nor can India’s usual supporters in Washington and London cover up the clear signs of Indian genocide in Kashmir.

Pakistan and the Kashmiris have India by the tail this time. Whatever Islamabad does, it shouldn’t grant India a photo-opportunity so it could use it to demoralize Kashmiri demonstrators.


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