Ufa Accord Exposes Pakistan's Diplomatic Failure, Not India's


The events that occurred at the border are deplorable but not surprising. They are reminiscent of the past – after Lahore accord, Pakistani Army entered Kargil sector and India had to flush them out

The dramatic developments in India-Pakistan relations after the Ufa accord may surprise some but not those who are in the know of the forces that dictate Pakistan’s relationship with India. The attempt that Prime Minister Narendrabhai Damodardass Modi made to revive the stalled Indo-Pak dialogue process was laudable. He met his counterpart Nawaz Sharif at the sidelines of the SCO summit as a matter of diplomatic courtesy and agreed to resolve all outstanding issues.

Yet, after the accord Pakistani prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, made a public statement saying that no dialogue with India possible without the Kashmir issue on the agenda for discussion. Aziz’s statement was uncalled for, as the Ufa accord between the two prime ministers agreed “to discuss all outstanding issues.” Further, Aziz said that Pakistan cannot proceed against the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi as India has provided insufficient evidence. On the contrary, the Ufa accord was clear on the point – “Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples.” However, will Pakistan consider voice samples provided by India?

A leading Pakistani daily, The Nation, has come down heavily in its editorial on Lakhvi’s non-cooperation in giving voice samples and the prosecuting team’s hesitancy, and has said that this would be “nothing short of a national embarrassment” when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has assured Prime Minister Modi of expediting Mumbai trail case with additional information such as providing voice samples. This, therefore, shows that leading public opinion in Pakistan is in favour of expediting the Mumbai trial case, where as the administration is hesitant to do so.

Moreover, few days after the Ufa accord Pakistani Rangers and terrorists indulged in unprovoked firings at the Line of Control and international border in an attempt to infiltrate India. To justify its misdeeds, Pakistan claimed that an India spy drone that allegedly violated Pakistani air space was shot down – a charge that India denied, saying “the photograph of the drone in question indicates that it is not of Indian design, nor of any UAV category held in the inventory of the Indian armed forces. It appears to be of Chinese design and is commercially available off the shelf.”

India was quick to retaliate to the Pakistani misadventure at the border. A helicopter flight neutralised three terrorists who crossed the LoC.

The developments at the border have delayed the dialogue process from resuming, but hopes still exist as long as Pakistan agrees to honour the Ufa commitments. India has said that it is willing to go ahead with talks provided peace and tranquillity prevailed at the border.

The events that occurred at the border are deplorable but not surprising. They are reminiscent of the past – after Lahore accord, Pakistani Army entered Kargil sector and India had to flush them out. This is one of the many instances where Pakistan failed to honour its commitments.

But why such things occur. The political leadership in Pakistan is not the sole authority that decides on the relationship with India. The Pakistani Army and the ISI assert more than the civilian authority.

Further, there are other forces that dictate Pakistan’s relationship with India. During the Cold War, Pakistan played into the hands of the US, and now it is China which considers Islamabad as its “all weather friend”. Recently China successfully blocked in UN Sanctions Committee India’s move seeking action against Pakistan for releasing Lakhvi from jail in violation of the 1267 UN resolution dealing with designated entities and individuals. Earlier, China had put a “technical hold” on India’s request to list Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.

It is the China-Pakistan axis that New Delhi needs to carefully calibrate and effectively deal. At the just concluded 7th BRICS summit at Ufa, Prime Minister Modi tried his best to include Pakistan’s proxy war and export of terrorism to India in the Draft Declaration but failed due to opposition from China. Strangely, the Ufa Declaration raised concerns about terrorism and armed conflicts across the globe but not a word on export of terrorism to India. The BRICS Declaration, however, condemned “unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations,” – an obvious reference to NATO’s sanction against Russia after the latter’s annexation of Crimea. It called for resolving the Ukraine crisis on the basis of Minsk Agreement.

Did Prime Minister Modi fail to calibrate China and Pakistan’s moves? Was Modi wrong in engaging with Pakistan at Ufa? The answer is simple. In diplomacy, engagements are necessary but they should not be at one’s cost. Sensing the mood at BRICS summit, Modi attempted to engage directly with Sharif to strike out a deal to revive the stalled dialogue process. Yes, diplomatic engagement should not be at the cost of national interest. After the Ufa accord when Pakistan initiated its misadventure at the border, India replied with an iron fist in a velvet glove. It’s not a failure of Modi’s diplomacy, as some say. It is the nature of Pakistan-China axis exposing itself.

Pakistan-China axis needs to be carefully calibrated by the policymakers. Prime Minister Modi’s policy is to engage with both the countries, but not at the cost of national interest. We have border disputes with both these countries. With China, Modi’s diplomatic engagement is for greater economic cooperation in getting more Chinese investments flow into the country, which has already begun, and at the same time being tough on settling boundary issues. In an interconnected world we cannot afford to ignore our neighbours. Similar is the case with Pakistan which wants to engage with India on border issues, although mostly on being prompted by China. In the past India has suffered by being soft on these two neighbours, but Modi’s approach is to engage diplomatically yet tough on boundary issues when required. The Ufa accord is thus a renewed offer to Pakistan to come to the negotiating table.

Both Pakistan and China have been cooperating with India in international fora on several issues confronting the developing world, including on climate change, multilateral trade, sustainable development goals, etc. Hence, New Delhi’s engagements with these two countries are in the interests of the developing world and the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, India must be tough in defending its territorial integrity.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.