Diplomacy of Peace hurts India’s National Interests
If the logic of peace as the supreme national ideal leads to absurdity, then it must be a grave error to think and to say that peace is the supreme end. For national ideals should not express amiable but unconsidered sentiments. They should express serious purposes of the nation and the vice of the pacifist ideal is that it conceals the true end of foreign policy. The true end is to provide for the security of the nation in peace and war.
Walter Lippmann, U.S. Foreign Policy – Shield of the Republic.
It is imperative for the Government of India to realize the wisdom of the above statement. Aspiration for peace does not fully serve the national interests of nations. The charges of the opposition and adverse public opinion notwithstanding, the Sharm el Sheikh episode has proved to be a failure of Indian diplomacy.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his Statement to the Rajya Sabha in defense of the resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue stated, “…Pakistan is our neighbor. We should be good neighbors.” This statement highlights the moralistic nature of India’s foreign policy. India, since independence, has self-created a moral standard in the conduct of its foreign policy and most national interests are scarified at the altar of this ethical goal. The Sahrm el Sheikh is continuation of the process.
The Joint Statement recognizes terrorism as the main threat for India and Pakistan. The implicit implication of this statement is that both sides do not recognize each other as primary threats. Additional for India the statement disconnects the threat of terrorism that allegedly emanates from Pakistan from the other dimensions of Indo-Pakistan hostility. Emerging from this understanding, the composite dialogue has been delinked from terrorism.
P.M. Singh and his ministers are busy defending the Shar el Sheikh Statement; elaborating on what the statement really meant. There have been clarifications ranging from faulty drafts to no-dilution of India’s traditional stand. However, the Government of India has ignored one important fact: foreign policy is not always based on what a country declares it is also based on how other countries interpret these statements. Moreover, Pratap Bhanu Mehta is right when he states that ‘symbolism matters in India-Pakistan relations. It is not only what is compromised but what appears to have been compromised that matters. While P.M. Singh is busy explaining his stand to the Indian public, P.M. Gilani is basking in the glory of getting India to the dialogue table without granting any concessions.
According to the Government of India, dialogue is imperative, an obvious fact of contemporary international relations. But it is equally vital to structure the dialogue and in the case of India and Pakistan make it contingent on certain essentials. These essentials may not be pre-conditions but could be standards/benchmarks for reviewing the dialogue. The reason for stalemate in Indo-Pak relations is that the bilateral dialogue does not subscribe to any benchmarks.
The much asserted defense of P.M. Singh that dialogue will not be renewed unless Pakistan demonstrates willingness and undertakes concrete action to counter terrorism is a misnomer. How does India intent to quantify Pakistan’s willingness? Pakistan can continue to undertake cosmetic measures (banning terror outfits which remerge under new names) to theoretically satisfy India’s preconditions. Will the renewal or continuation of dialogue under such circumstances help India in any way? Thus it is imperative that the over-arching goal of counter-terrorism must be broken down into smaller verifiable steps and the momentum of dialogue is made contingent to the achievement of these sub-goals.
Under the current circumstances, India has renewed the dialogue process even when 1) Pakistan claims that there is no credible evidence on Hafiz Saeed’s involvement in the 26/11 attacks, 2) Pakistan refuses to hand over Dawood Ibhraim and 42 other fugitives as demanded by India and 3) terrorist training camps are flourishing in Pakistan. If termination of dialogue does not serve the cause of national interests, continuation of dialogue without achieving tangible results does greater disserve to India’s national interests.
Revival of the dialogue process would have had made sense only when the Government of India could clearly answer the following questions:
- What will be India’s course of action if another terrorists attack (with obvious links to Pakistan) occurs?
- How will India verify that Pakistan is shutting down terrorist training camps?
- Will other aspects of the Sharm el Sheikh Statement stand if Pakistan brings back the centrality of Kashmir to the dialogue process?
In inter-state relations there are two theories of communication – constructivist and rationalist. The constructivist theories hold that communication can alter actor’s preferences by influencing their conception of what is right and wrong. Rationalist theories maintain that state’s preferences remain constant but that communication may lead them to revise their instrumental beliefs about the cause and effect relationships between policies and outcomes. India’s dialogue process with Pakistan will have to shift from the constructivist to the rationalist track. India cannot convince Pakistan that supporting terrorism is a self-hurting policy and thus needs to communicate the possible outcomes that Pakistan could face if it continued to support terrorism.
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