Last Friday the official spokesman, Vikas Swarup said that the dialogue process with Islamabad had not been suspended and that the decision to send NIA investigators to Pakistan would be taken at the “appropriate time.”
Earlier this month, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had declared that the talks between the two sides had been suspended.
Speaking at his routine weekly briefing Swarup said that while the Pathankot issue may have had salience in recent months, the two sides continued to communicate with each other at various levels, from that of the prime ministers downwards, on a variety of other issues.
A day earlier, Swarup’s Pakistani counterpart Nafees Zakaria had also insisted that the road to dialogue remained open and Pakistan would be ready for talks “when India is ready.”
Swarup also went out of his way to emphasise that the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team’s visit to Pathankot had taken place in a “constructive and cooperative” environment and India would welcome cooperation on countering all forms of terrorism.
In other words, India has shrugged off the inspired stories appearing in the Pakistani media claiming that their investigation team had determined that the Pathankot attack was concocted by India to defame Pakistan.
By now the India-Pakistan relations are back to their familiar blow hot, blow cold scenario.
What exactly is the government policy on Pakistan is currently a bit difficult to determine.
But perhaps it will become irrelevant as power equations are shifting in Islamabad, with the Nawaz Sharif government on the ropes over the Panama allegations.
General Raheel Sharif’s non-so-subtle response to the situation was to call for “across the board accountability” on the matter of corruption and to sack 11 Army officers, including a Lieutenant General and two Major Generals for corruption.
It is unlikely that Nawaz Sharif will be able to focus on his India policy for a while.
Meanwhile India is wondering what to do about the other, some would say self-inflicted, wound over the issue of Masood Azhar and China.
Four days ago, newspapers relayed what was obviously a deep source official briefing that Chinese dissidents from around the world would meet at a conference in Dharamsala.
This is, of course, the seat of the exiled Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.
Among them would be the leader of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, who is classed as a terrorist by Beijing. The conference would be under the auspices of the Citizen Power for China, led by a well known Tienanmen Square activist Yang Jianli who lives in exile in the US.
Among those present would be Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falung Gong practitioners, Mongolians, and others with a grouse with China. Talk of waving multiple red rags at the dragon. New Delhi may have bitten off more than it can chew here.
For one Isa has a red corner notice against him which informs various member countries that the persons concerned are wanted by a particular country for prosecution.
India has been a beneficiary of the Interpol process, say, in the case of the arrest of Abu Salem in Portugal in 2002, which paved his way for extradition to India.
As of now, protests from Beijing seem to have persuaded New Delhi from providing visas to some other Uighur leaders. But that is not going to mollify Beijing.
India should be aware that China is neuralgic about separatism in Tibet and Xinjiang, but it seems to be going out of its way to provoke Beijing in an obvious tit-for-tat for the latter’s relationship with Pakistan.
But this can be a dangerous game.
In the 1960s and 1970s, China supported the North-eastern insurgents, and this is something that can happen once again. In the case of Nepal, Beijing has chosen to offer only token support to those seeking to play off China against India.
Likewise, China has taken a relatively even-handed approach on Jammu & Kashmir by recognising it to be a dispute that must be resolved by India and Pakistan, the standard formulation adopted by most countries, including our friend the US. (For the sake of perspective: No one recognises Tibet or Xinjiang to be anything other than being a part of China).
This could change, in the past China has needled India by issuing stapled visas for people applying from the state. If China upped the ante, you could well see a Kashmiri government in exile functioning from Kashghar.
There is an escalatory logic to these tit-for-tat games which requires cool nerves and a steady hand. Hopefully Prime Minister Modi and his National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval have them. India faces a serious geopolitical threat from the de facto China-Pakistan alliance.
China is ahead of us in almost every aspect of national power and so there is need for us to gird up our economy and sense of national purpose to meet the challenge. But by reducing it to the issue of terrorism, which in any case has sharply declined in India in the last seven years since 2008, is to do disservice to the country.
Mail Today April 24, 2016