Pakistan’s decision to withdraw from the NSA-level talks with India stems from its inability to face the legitimate charges made by India and its traditional distrust in having any constructive dialogue. Pakistan has rarely, if at all, made any attempt to engage with India on a positive or a constructive note. It is either war or proxy war; jihad or border firing. Pakistan simply has no interest in talking to India. It has nothing to talk: it only has demands and threats. It was therefore not surprising that Pakistan found a way out of this NSA talks too.
The Hurriyat has been a convenient weapon for Rawalpindi When it wants to stoke fire within the valley, the same set of guys in the Hurriyat will ensure that shops were shut in Srinagar, stones were pelted at security forces, bombs lobbed at security convoys and then street protests if some one got injured or killed in the violence. The Hurriyat has been the traditional street gang for Pakistan Army. Of late, the patrons have found a new role for the Hurriyat—they can work as the spanner in the works for the already bedevilled India-Pakistan relationship. Everytime, some in Islamabad or New Delhi decides to let bygones be bygones, out come the Hurriyat and its minions on the streets of Srinagar and wherever they have a presence to demand their pound of flesh. The Hurriyat, as part of the pre-planned strategy, starts demanding a role in the dialogue between two sovereign nations. They garner some support of do-gooders in the media and civil society. Pakistan then, in a feigned act of sympathy, decides to invite the Hurriyat leaders. It is then known that the game is afoot.
In the present context, a similar charade was played. A few weeks ago, the two Prime Ministers meet and decide to break the ice and agree to talk about terrorism. India has long been a victim of terrorism and Pakistan has suffered immensely from terrorism for the last eight years or so. It was a mutual cause of concern for both the countries. But when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to his country, he faces a different music, orchestrated by the Generals who are not keen talking to India about terrorism. So Sharif was put on the mat for not talking about Kashmir.
The Generals were not the ones to give up so easily; first they began cross-border firing and then brought the Hurriyat into the picture. The Pakistani NSA it was decided will meet the Hurriyat leaders and then host them for dinner. What was wrong about it, it may be asked? Well, where was the NSA supposed to meet the Hurriyat leaders—in Delhi. Now Delhi is not Pakistan. The Pakistan NSA, otherwise a suave and experienced diplomat, should have paid attention to the simple niceties—ask the host whether it was alright to do so. It is a basic courtesy one extends one visits even a friend’s house. He should have asked his counterpart whether it was alright to bring some of his ``friends`` for the party. When the host, India came to know about this uninvited guests, it politely told Pakistan that it was not acceptable. The Hurriyat leaders are not invited to the discussion between the two National Security Advisors. It is like asking the Balochs and Hazara Shias and Ahmadis to be present in the same room—all of them have a stake in what is being discussed between New Delhi and Islamabad. But none of them represent the sovereign state and need to stay out of the room. This is common sense.
So why did Pakistan insist on hosting the Hurriyat in New Delhi, talk to them and offer them was dinner? Was it to spite New Delhi? Or to get the talk cancelled? India very well knows that the Hurriyat has no or little relevance in Kashmir today. It is in any case a divided house and has no popular support. They are also not sure which they side of the boat they are in—one says Pakistan and another says independence. Others are conveniently ambiguous. Pakistan’s action was thus churlish. It rankles even more because the same country refused permission to the J&K Assembly Speaker to travel to Islamabad to attend the Commonwealth meeting of parliamentarians.
It is not difficult to understand the basic motive in dragging the Hurriyat into the talks between two sovereign nations was to spoil it. Since Pakistan obstinately refused to cancel its invitation to the Hurriyat, the talk collapsed even before it started. The blame lies squarely on Pakistan—if it was serious about the talks, it should have spent its energy and resources on the agenda for discussion rather than creating the histrionics over the Hurriyat. The Hurriyat is like the tired rabbit which Pakistan brings out every time there is a possibility of a serious discussion with India.
It is time, leaders in Pakistan, both military and civil, stop playing these games and start thinking about the welfare of their people. By not talking to India, they bring immense harm to their own people. India’s economic story has only just begun. It is clear that Pakistan would like to spoil this story rather than be part of it.