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Vexed Nawaz Sharif

 

Editorial. Satya Pal Singh. XX. VIII. XIV

 

 

Pakistani Musical Chairs

 

 

 


Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld By Satya Pal Singh

 


       Pakistani Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif-fnbworldImran Khan-fnbworld


An unusually exasperated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is understood to have politely conveyed to his Army and ISI brass that the repercussions of India calling off the secretary-level talks with Pakistan will be their handiwork, waiting to turn disastrous any time soon. He is feeling grievously vexed that the Pak Army and the intelligence agency have both failed to assess the mood of the Indian leadership. He is particularly apprehensive that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's studious silence over Pak actions may turn damaging, far beyond the pleasing effect of his innocuous, musical words that he chooses to refer to his neighboring nationalities.


Few had correctly interpreted Modi's elusive silence on Independence Day, despite the continuing nasty border violence let loose by Pakistani Rangers and terrorists. Modi had then only advised India's "Neighbors to focus on eliminating the poverty of their people, rather than on shedding blood." Sharif understandably had viewed the missing Modi bravado from his I-Day speech as highly ominous and misleading. It's clear that Sharif now remains slumped, pretty unstable in the saddle and fears being sacked any time before the nuclear-powered Army settles in and decides to force another war on India.


India had earlier called off talks, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on August 25, objecting to ‘consultations and contacts' Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had or planned to have with Kashmir separatists. New Delhi was rightly curt in telling Islamabad either to choose dialogue with India or hobnob with the separatists. Both Pakistan and the separatists, however, remain defiant on dubious 'consultations'.

 

The very fact that the Pakistani envoy is still adamant on meeting the separatists, despite New Delhi's stern warning, shows that Pakistan belligerency remains yet untamed and is ostensibly dead-set on driving hole in India's morale. Separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mohammad Yasin Malik are adamant on meeting the Pakistan envoy. A Hurriyat Conference leader said, "We will continue the process consultations which are part of the dialogue process for resolution of Kashmir issue."While Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Geelani has already met Basit, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik may also meet him shortly. Pakistan Foreign Office too stands adamant, saying its stand is sound and claims its envoy in Delhi had broken no protocol. In such a scenario, is the Modi govt feeling the pressure of Pak moves and the irritants surfacing in Delhi? 


The answer is both 'yes' and 'no'. Apart from Kashmiri political leaders, opposition parties have come unusually tough on the govt for cancelling the proposed talks. While PDP's Mehbooba Mufti has questioned Modi's 'immature' leadership and slammed his decision, Congress is not the least reconciled to the cancellation of talks. However, the party wants the Pakistan envoy sent back home. Kashmiri Separatist leader Shabir Shah says, "If we are looking at peace in the region, then talks must be held and Kashmir issue must be discussed. Even during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure we had received letter from the Union government for talks." Earlier, Pakistan described India's decision to call off talks as a "setback" to its efforts to promote good neighborly relations.    

 

A former informed diplomat feels Nawaz Sharif wants talks to be resumed, so that he may stay on in office with the Army merely 'sending signals' on the direction of talks from barracks. But he has now been effectively shadowed and the Army brass, aided by ISI, is calling the shots, reducing Sharif's status to pulp. He is neither being heard, nor is being bothered about. What is bothering the Army at the moment is showing its fangs to India when the Modi govt wants Pakistan to stop exporting terror across the border and keep distance from Kashmiri separatists. Things became particularly hot for Sharif after opposition leader Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri mounted massive protest campaigns for his ouster, having crudely rejected the govt's offer for talks. While Khan accused Sharif of rigging last year's election that he won by a landslide, Maulana Qadri says Sharif is corrupt. The protesters have found the moment most opportune to strike now, as Army Generals are extremely unhappy with Sharif and his ways of functioning. 


Foreign diplomats posted in Pakistan see Sharif being increasingly put on edge. They foresee end of his tenure anytime soon. One says, “if he proposes dialogue afresh without carrying the 'blueprint' of Kashmir separatists, he may face sack forthwith. A beleaguered Sharif is now between two horns of dilemma…that's the reason why his body language is shrinking!

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