[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]s pressure mounts on the Indian government to put on hold dialogue with Pakistan after the Pathankot terror attack, the forthcoming secretary-level talks may take place only after the National Security Advisors of the two countries meet shortly to discuss India’s concern on terror. Turning the focus on terror will help the government deflect attention from the criticism it is facing on resuming dialogue with Pakistan and Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s surprise Lahore visit.
The Government, sources said, feels that abruptly calling off all engagements with Pakistan at this stage will be seen as a knee-jerk reaction, so it is better to hold NSA-level talks first. “After all, at some stage we have to engage Pakistan. Experiences of the past have shown that such peace overture are inevitably followed by terror attacks because Pak military establishment does not favour peaceful resolution of the dispute between the two countries,” said an official. The foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan scheduled for January 15.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley dropped enough hints that the Government may have a rethink on going ahead with the scheduled talks.
“I think let the operations get over and it is only then government takes a view on such matters,” he told reporters after the National Security Council meeting presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the terror attack among other issues.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]ources said that the Government is going to confront Pakistan with concrete evidence about the involvement of its state agencies behind the terror plot carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammed and seek an assurance that the terror outfit will not go unpunished.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised the world by making an unannounced stopover In Lahore recently for attending the wedding of Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Government had hailed it as a major diplomatic coup. But the experts on the Pakistan affairs had warned that the ISI and Pakistan army would not waste any time in executing some major terror attack to derail the peace process.
The Government is aware of the pitfalls involved in engaging Pakistan and the domestic backlash in may face from a constituency which, over the years, supported for the BJP and Modi for their aggressive stance towards the neighbor. But even three days after the Pathankot attack Modi has yet to speak a word against Pakistan. This itself shows that he is keeping the option open to engage the neighbour, though at a different level.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he terrorists obviously belong to Pakistan, but Jaitley refused to say it in so many words. “I think we are at a stage where operations are still on (and) therefore it is not proper for me to say anything more than what I’ve said,” he said.
However, giving an indication about their design, he said terrorists had come with the main objective of damaging strategic assets at Pathankot Air base. “These were well trained terrorists and part of suicide squad. When such kind of Fidayeen attacks take place it has potential to cause huge damage. The complex is very big. The circumference of airbase is 24 kms therefore combing operations is also taking time,” he said.
The next two days will be crucial to decide the direction in which the Indo-Pak relation will be headed for. In case Pakistan agrees to hold NSA level to discuss terror it will give at least give a face-saver to the Modi Government.
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