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HVK Archives: Pakistan goes hawkish on Kashmir

Pakistan goes hawkish on Kashmir - The Economic Times

Indrani Bagchi ()
March 19, 1998

Title: Pakistan goes hawkish on Kashmir
Author: Indrani Bagchi
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: March 19, 1998

Pakistan's verbal sabreattling about the nuclear option and its
aggressive stance on India poses the first diplomatic challenge
to the new BJP government hi New Delhi.

The hardliner foreign minister of Pakistan, Gohar Ayub Khan, will
today detail to the UNHCR in Geneva alleged human rights
violations by India which he insists has been inciting terrorism
in Pakistan and Kashmir. This will be the culmination of a week-
long blitz through Tokyo and Doha by Mr Khan where he has made a
number of allegations against India.

He has accused India of renouncing its secular credentials and
becoming communal and extremist; predicted India would break up.
He has assured that Pakistan would not compromise on Kashmir
while simultaneously insisting that India should be the one to re-
start talks. Kashmir, he insists, is a flashpoint in Indo- Pak
relations and Pakistan would keep its nuclear option open if
India chose to do so.

It would be easy for the newlyinstalled BJP government to be
equally hawkish in their reaction End, in fact, Brajesh Mishra of
the BJP has counter-accused Mr Khan, of spreading ies and
innuendoes that are itriolic in nature=94.

It would be equally facile to assume that Mr Khan is going beyond
the brief laid down by Nawaz Sharif. He isn't. Mr Sharif is prey
to his own internal compulsions that forces him to wear numerous
hats in public life. Catering to a growing hardline lobby is the
hawkish stance taken by Mr Khan; on the other hand, moderates and
liberals like Mushahid Hussain have been known to articulate
beliefs that the hardline position could have damaging
repercussions on bilateral trade initiatives with India.

A third face of the Pakistan establishment showed itself when
Nawaz Sharif admitted in a Gulf newspaper a couple of days ago
that he was eager for an early summit meeting with the new
government on the Kashmir issue, while a fourth insisted that
India had to take the first step in re-initiating talks with

Pakistan is also contending with a virtually collapsed law and
order system and a weak economy requiring stern reforms. To add
to Sharif's problems, a prominent POK leader announced in London
today that Pakistan was illegally trying to annexe Gilgit and
Baltistan to its northern areas. In the face of such apparent
contradictions, India would be foolish to fly off the handle.

The BJP needs to tread carefully in its efforts to be the good
neighbour. Its insistence qf an 'Akhand Bharat' is bound to raise
hackles. Yet the BJP has the singular advantage of a prime
minister who is highly regarded in Pakistan establishment. Even
Jaswant Singh, who visited Pakistan last year drew very good
press. The new government should be able to evolve the Gujral
doctrine from its freshman stage of awarding, good conduct
certificates and PR exercises in the region to try to comprehend
the chemistry of a regional power.

If it succumbs to the temptation of reacting to Mr Gohar Ayub
Khan's statements it would succeed in undermining unilateral
Indian efforts of the past few years to lift Indian foreign
policy from its previous Pakistan-centric position. India's best
bet apart from a wait and watch attitude would be to assure
Pakistan of practical solutions to present problems while making
it clear that there are other issues in international policy that
commanded equal importance. This will defuse the hype Pakistan is
trying to build up in international circles while moving the
diplomatic process forward.

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