The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in its annual report for 2022 has amply signalled that there is no movement in sight towards a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan. The report, on the basis of convincing evidence and instances, blames Islamabad for not creating a conducive environment that is essential to put the relations between the two countries back on track. The report has made it clear that the ball for resuming normal diplomatic dialogue process with New Delhi is still in the court of Islamabad, but the government in Pakistan has failed to create any positive atmosphere for the talks. So the larger message that the MEA report gives is that resumption of dialogue hinges on what actions Pakistan takes to mend its ways in future. The MEA report has a clear message also for the global community which from time to time keeps advising India to be on the dialogue table with Pakistan so that tensions between the two nuclear powers could be reduced. The global community must understand that Pakistan itself is not serious about the talks, even though Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, under one pressure or the other, can be seen going through the motion of extending a conciliatory gesture towards India by expressing desire for peace. In the past, Sharif was seen imploring for serious and sincere talks between the two neighbours. But the very next day, Sharif was found raking the Kashmir issue, reemphasising Pakistan’s key preconditions like reinstatement of Article 370 for renewing talks with India. Does it not make Pakistan’s conciliatory overture towards India a laughable proposal? Undoubtedly, India cannot entertain even a discussion regarding Jammu and Kashmir. So there is no question of restoring its special status. This raises doubts about the sincerity of the peace talks for which Pakistan extends an olive branch towards India.
The MEA’s annual report for 2022 has highlighted all the points and arguments, exposing that Pakistan is not serious about the talks as it is unable to fulfil the conditions put forward by India for resumption of dialogue. Credible, irreversible and verifiable action against terrorists and to end cross-border terrorism is one of the conditions that India wants Pakistan to fulfil before expecting any positive development regarding peace talks. “There is no let-up in Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism and Islamabad is yet to show sincerity in delivering justice to the families of the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks,” said the MEA report. The message is loud and clear. The question for peace talks does not arise when Pakistan has failed to take action against terrorists and terror outfits on its soil. The message should be seen for the international community also, as several foreign nationals were also among those who were killed in the Mumbai terror attacks. Another significant point that the report has highlighted is that Pakistan continues to engage in hostile and fabricated propaganda to vilify India and to divert attention from its domestic political and economic failures. This point should be seen in the context of how Sharif’s proposal for peace talks with India had come at a time when ministers of his own government were actively promoting anti-India propaganda on international platforms. It may be recalled how Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari used the United Nations platform for his diatribe against India. He made uncivilised remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India gave him a befitting reply as well at that time. Are the talks possible, given all these contradictions in Pakistan’s behaviour?
The MEA report said, “India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and New Delhi’s consistent position has been that issues, if any, should be resolved bilaterally and peacefully, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.” The report hastened to add, “The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive environment.” In fact, the report has raised the larger question as to where the efforts are visible in Pakistan so as to create such a ‘conducive environment’.
“Despite India’s persistent urging that Pakistan respect its January 2004 commitment of not allowing its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, there was no let-up in cross-border terrorism, infiltration and illegal smuggling of arms into India across the Line of Control (LoC) and International Boundary.” These are the solid and convincing points in the MEA report that make it abundantly clear that Pakistan itself is not serious and sincere about its own proposals for peace talks