DGMOs Break the Ice

26 Dec, 2013    ·   4225

Shujaat Bukhari on what needs to be done next after the meeting

Shujaat Bukhari
Shujaat Bukhari
Editor in Chief, Rising Kashmir
Even if it may not be termed as a major breakthrough but the meeting between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan has surely helped to break the deadlock. By having the first eye-to-eye contact after 14 years, the top level Army officers have not only pushed the battered relations on a new track, but also honoured the commitment of two Prime Ministers – Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif – which they reached on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York three months back.
The contact that graduated from the every-Tuesday hotline to the physical meeting at Wagah this Tuesday infuses a sense in the relations that have been marred by intense hostility on the Line of Control (LoC) throughout 2013. With this meeting, in which both sides agreed to honour the ceasefire, one can hope that in
2014 both India and Pakistan will usher into a phase of cordial relations.

Giving details about the meeting, an Indian Army spokesman termed it having been held in cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere. “Both DGMOs showed commitment to maintain sanctity and ceasefire on the LoC and agreed to re-energise the existing mechanisms,” he said, adding that two Brigadier level flag meetings will be held in near future.

Besides this both sides have agreed to take some more positive steps to make the atmosphere conducive. The DGMOs meeting may not bring immediate changes in the relations but it has a strong potential to push for normalizing the situation along LoC. 
The meeting between Singh and Sharif in New York was overshadowed by the twin attacks in Jammu a day before they were scheduled to sit and re-start the high level contact. Still they managed to meet though not with a positive body language.

The DGMOs meeting was the only take away from that meeting and its materialization is a positive move. The erstwhile “composite” dialogue, now named as “comprehensive” by certain quarters, has been in tatters since the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. Notwithstanding the fact that it was resumed at a certain level, there has not been a significant forward movement on dialogue. While Pakistan has been juggling with its own internal turmoil, India’s scam ridden United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has been under a high dose of criticism for its multiple failures.

It is a fact that any government in Delhi has to take opposition into confidence while taking any step for a raproshma with Pakistan but the process in itself cannot be held hostage to such a “necessity” which is easy when a government is in trouble for other reasons. For two years now the foreign ministers of the two countries have not met and the “gains” made on trade front when Commerce Secretaries met in September and the decisions on a liberal visa regime seem to have been wasted due to lack of political will to further the peace process.

India’s concerns over “terrorism” and more so on Mumbai trial are well understood and Pakistan’s cooperation is must to build a level of confidence in bringing the culprits to justice. Islamabad must move forward in having speedy trial though the blame and counter blame about the evidence etc has been on. One thing is important to understand that while New Delhi has agreed to resume the process after Mumbai attacks, its progress should not become a bone of contention.

With a newly elected democratic government in power in Pakistan, in New Delhi it is now a wait-and-watch game till the general elections are over and a new regime assumes office. Sharif had begun his new term in office with the “commitment” to peace with India. For the first few months he stressed on the need to “pick
up threads from 1999 Lahore declaration” but ostensibly there was no positive response from Delhi. This was perhaps because of a crisis-ridden Manmohan Singh government coupled with New Delhi’s intransigent behaviour to not engage with Pakistan till the “last gun or bomb” is cleared of Indian soil.

There is no denying the fact that Pakistan has a role in the trouble in India, but it is also because of New Delhi’s own mishandling of the minority community which gives rise to “home grown terror” and is in turn being promoted by the extremists elsewhere. In addition to that the “Saffron terror” has also become a reality within India.

So to hold everything hostage to the results of Mumbai attacks trial may not be prudent on part of India which has a bigger responsibility in contributing to peace in the South Asian region.

While Nawaz Sharif is struggling to assert to have larger role to civilian authority, his “intentions” except for his reported statement about “fourth war”, which his office eventually denied, have to be taken at face value. If those associated with peace process during Musharraf era are to be believed, the four-point formula on
Kashmir also could not be implemented before his ouster “only due to delay in response from Delhi for a considerable time”.

In the past few months, Sharif seems to be succeeding in his effort to give civilian color to his rule and the smooth change of guard in Army has shown that he is in command. This means that New Delhi should not lose this opportunity as well. In case Sharif fails himself, the onus will be on him. But it is in the interest of New Delhi that a serious engagement is on track to move forward on ensuring a sustainable peace process.
While the wait for a new government is unavoidable the process of building more bridges like the meeting between DGMOs must continue on both sides. This will serve as ground work for a larger process after May. Whosoever comes to power in Delhi, peace with Pakistan to eventually find a dignified solution to all problems including Kashmir is inevitable. Solutions are more in the interest of India than Pakistan. 
By arrangement with Rising Kashmir