In the Ufa agreement signed in July this year between the Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers, the road map for engagement between the two countries was clearly spelt out.
It was subsequently — and repeatedly — emphasised by senior government officials that there was a very specific charter for talks between various officials.
The two National Security Advisors would talk only terror, the two DGMOs the situation on the Line of Control and the DG BSF and Head of Rangers the situation on the International Border. Then, in August, just 24 hours before the NSAs were to meet in Delhi, the foreign minister Sushma Swaraj categorically told the country that a third-party will not be involved and the two NSAs will only discuss terror.
Now, we are suddenly told that Indian and Pakistani NSAs have held official talks in Bangkok and on many subjects, including Kashmir and Line of Control.
What has triggered this sudden change in government’s stance? Where are the details of all that was discussed at Bangkok? Is the Ufa process dead? What is the credibility of such a government which continues to blow hot and cold with neighbours without clarifying its rationale? Has the grandstanding from the government resulted in anything except embarrassment and backtracking?
Why such ad-hocism? Why were the talks abruptly stalled and on what basis are they being secretly resumed? Why is the Parliament being kept in the dark? We need these answers from the government.
While we welcome all initiatives to secure peace with Pakistan, we believe that this on-off policy weakens India’s standing in the world. The odd-even formula might work for controlling vehicular emissions in Delhi. How suitable is it for India-Pakistan talks?
Sitaram Yechury is a veteran Marxist and the General Secretary of CPIM. Views expressed here are his own.