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Doval-Bajwa a good combination to oversee back-channel dialogue, says former special envoy to PM

INDIAPOSITIVE

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Details are still emerging of a reported back-channel initiative between India and Pakistan that has led to a number of measures since the February 25 DGMO ceasefire agreement announcement. As the latest Pakistani move to clear and then cancel imports from India is debated, former diplomat and special envoy to PM Manmohan Singh, Satinder Lambah, who ran the official back-channel from 2005-2014 stressed that a previous deal on trade that was derailed in 2014, and the agreement on Jammu and Kashmir are valid even today.

You have been involved in India-Pakistan diplomacy for 40 years, and the back-channel dialogue for more than a decade. According to you, is there a back channel in place now, and as reports suggest, facilitated by a third country like the UAE?
With regards to the current scenario, my knowledge of the specifics is limited to what I read in the newspapers. I can tell you about the dialogue we had (2005-2014). There was no third-party involvement. Bill Burns (now CIA Chief) in his memoirs wrote that the Indians did not share details with them and did not want any mediatory role. If you were to ask me, even now, it is probably a bilateral dialogue, although it may be influenced by the Biden effect.

Could you share some details of the back channel you were part of and the 2007 Kashmir agreement?
It will not be proper for me to share details as the papers were transferred from the former Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) to the present Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). Some top legal luminaries of the country were consulted (at the time).

Were the legal luminaries’ part of any political leadership?
No.

But would the agreement on Jammu and Kashmir that was negotiated still be valid more than a decade later, despite the changes in J&K in August 2019?
Yes it would. We did not negotiate for a specific era or political regime in government, but by keeping the future of the two countries in mind. Unconnected with relations with Pakistan, I believe the important state of J&K on our border deserves full statehood.

How difficult was it to run the Back channel, to set up meetings between you and your interlocutors?
Setting up meetings was no problem. In both countries, the bigger challenge is dealing with domestic interests, as well as media leaks, which then distort the actual purpose of the dialogue. Once, I remember, we got a visa for me to travel to Lahore by a special plane for talks, but at that time Prime Minister asked me not to go. A major newspaper ran the story with a big headline stating that talks were on in Pakistan, which was far from true, and caused confusion. So even when I don’t think there is an agenda, people can create the wrong impression about talks. The opposition was briefed about talks, but no paper could ever be shown to anyone.

Why is the secrecy so necessary?
The purpose of such talks, everywhere, is confidentiality.

It is necessary, because of all the domestic reactions, that come out even before some agreement is reached. Pakistan’s recent decision on trade is a good example of that. Even when the Pakistan Prime Minister decided to open imports, others objected, and it had to be deferred.

We had even thought that if we had a deal, we would have wanted all the former Prime Ministers to be represented, so that we could show that there was a broad unanimity. But General Musharraf’s decision to sack his Chief Justice (Iftikhar Chaudhury) took matters off the rails in Pakistan and the deal we had, could not be signed. This is accepted as a reason for the failure even by analysts in Pakistan and the outside world.

At another point (in 2014), many diplomats and others in public have described how the deal on trade for MFN status from Pakistan (called Non-Discriminatory Market Access or NDMA) was nearly through, and it was cancelled at the last minute because an emissary from the opposition party in India to Pakistan reportedly suggested that the deal should be held back until a new government was in power. Mr. Nawaz Sharif may have taken that decision in Pakistan’s interests, but eventually, the MFN status deal never came through.

How were meetings between you and your Pakistani interlocutor set up?
A: We had each other’s phone numbers, but normally when we met, we would set up the next meeting’s logistics. We met in third countries that had convenient air-links from Delhi and Islamabad, so cities in neighbouring countries were preferred destinations. The duration of the visits was brief, normally a single day. We were careful (about media exposure) so we travelled as private citizens, no official delegation, and we even carried our own bags. Eventually, negotiating in this way, we spent nearly 150 hours together.

What advice would you give the current back-channel, that is believed to be between NSA Doval and the Pakistani Army Chief Gen Bajwa?
A: I have no advice to give. If true, I believe that a back channel dialogue between Mr. Doval and General Bajwa would be a good combination. Our two countries have different power structures, and therefore we need people who have seniority in their own systems, direct access and confidence of the leadership. They need to be able to take on the spot decisions. I have worked with Mr. Doval in the 1980s, at the High Commission in Islamabad, including a hijacking situation in Lahore (1981), and later on the situation in Afghanistan post Bonn conference. General Bajwa has had an extension. As I said, given all our differences, they would be a good combination as interlocutors, or to oversee the dialogue.

History shows that Pakistan army leaders/chiefs think of improving relations with India only after stabilizing themselves. General Zia suggested back channel talks after nine years in office, just before his death. General Musharraf started his peace overtures five years after taking over; and General Bajwa, three years after becoming army chief. Such occasions come after a gap of several years.

What should the next steps be? Given the suspension of India-Pakistan ties in the past few years, do you still think peace has a chance?
Yes of course. There are some who would argue otherwise and it is natural and justified in a democracy. Some may take a harder view. I am amongst the many who personally suffered as a result of partition. We lost our homes, possessions and had to rebuild our lives in independent India where we came without an address. But I still firmly believe that with a neighbour, particularly when there is an unfriendly relationship, you have to have a via media to exist. Otherwise, we both hurt ourselves. Engagement is necessary particularly with an adversary and I am glad it is being done now. I think we must take the dialogue process slowly, begin with some people-to-people initiatives and emphasis on economic relations. We need to have at least a limited beginning in encouraging travel, allowing people to meet each other. India’s biggest friends and ambassadors are Pakistanis who visit India and then return to tell others about all that we have achieved. At a suitable occasion, respective High Commissioners should be reinstated. Track – II dialogues should be held. There is no need to shy away from any discussion, because our fundamentals are strong. We expect that no help will be given to promote terrorist activities in our country. I agree that there are spoilers in both the systems. However, I have observed that in the present elections, there has been no real Pakistan-bashing other than a few stray comments made during the campaign, and that will also ease along the current process.

 

Andhadhun

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This,

History shows that Pakistan army leaders/chiefs think of improving relations with India only after stabilizing themselves. General Zia suggested back channel talks after nine years in office, just before his death. General Musharraf started his peace overtures five years after taking over; and General Bajwa, three years after becoming army chief. Such occasions come after a gap of several years.
 

Krptonite

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This,

History shows that Pakistan army leaders/chiefs think of improving relations with India only after stabilizing themselves. General Zia suggested back channel talks after nine years in office, just before his death. General Musharraf started his peace overtures five years after taking over; and General Bajwa, three years after becoming army chief. Such occasions come after a gap of several years.
It's a see saw. Historically, both sides have had multiple moments of imminent breakthrough for peace only to be derailed by another agenda.

With such a boisterous history between us, every accusation will be nodoubt be met with ten retaliatory ones.

The trust deficit cuts both sides.
 

Andhadhun

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It's a see saw. Historically, both sides have had multiple moments of imminent breakthrough for peace only to be derailed by another agenda.

With such a boisterous history between us, every accusation will be nodoubt be met with ten retaliatory ones.

The trust deficit cuts both sides.
There is going to be NO breakthrough.

It will only happen when pakistan publicly surrenders to Reality.
 

arjunk

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why are yindus so desperate for good relationship with Pakistan all of a sudden?

ghus keh maarain gey #fail
isolate karain gey #fail

ab amaan sey rahain gey biden ji ka order hai(will eventually #fail)
Biden has told them to stop getting spanked by Pakistan and focus on China.
 

newb3e

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Yindoos are always for good relationship with Neighbors. e.g. Bangladesh.
and yet you have issues with China,Pakistan,srilanka,Nepal,bhuttan

is your head inside Modi g? please get it out of there its a disgusting place and see the real world! My dear Yindu!
 

Andhadhun

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and yet you have issues with China,Pakistan,srilanka,Nepal,bhuttan

is your head inside Modi g? please get it out of there its a disgusting place and see the real world! My dear Yindu!
We have plenty of "issues" and all those issues are discussed at appropriate forums with all our neighbors. (baring Pakistan).

Having "issues' does not mean we don't have Good Relations with them.

1 million FREE CoVid vaccine to Nepal
0.5 million FREE CoVid vaccine to Sri Lanka. 8 Million vaccine purchased on priority for Neighborhood first.
5 million FREE CoVid vaccine to BD
0.9 million FREE CoVid vaccine to Bhutan

China is one of our Largest Trade Partners.

I suggest YOU get out of your own fantasy and deal with reality.
 

newb3e

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We have plenty of "issues" and all those issues are discussed at appropriate forums with all our neighbors. (baring Pakistan).

Having "issues' does not mean we don't have Good Relations with them.

1 million FREE CoVid vaccine to Nepal
0.5 million FREE CoVid vaccine to Sri Lanka. 8 Million vaccine purchased on priority for Neighborhood first.
5 million FREE CoVid vaccine to BD
0.9 million FREE CoVid vaccine to Bhutan

China is one of our Largest Trade Partners.

I suggest YOU get out of your own fantasy and deal with reality.
baring Pakistan! baring China! bhuttan wants you to fk off ,nepal doesnt like you!

and china occupying your land!!

dont be cute baboon pleaaj sarrrr!
 

INDIAPOSITIVE

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Talking about Independent countries here mate, not colonies.

How and why is Bangladesh better off than Pakistan today?



At a time when Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of its separation from Pakistan on March 26, one needs to contemplate why a country – which in 1972 was called by Dr Henry Kissinger, the National Security Adviser to then US President Richard Nixon, a ‘basket with a hole’ – is cited as a success story and better off than Pakistan in many ways. How and why has an “impoverished” Bangladesh performed better than Pakistan? Are there lessons Pakistan can learn from Bangladesh?

Let me first note here that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among chief guests on the occasion of Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day on March 26 – in an acknowledgement of Delhi’s decisive role in the disintegration of Pakistan. One must feel bitter about Pakistan bashing that would take place in Bangladesh on the occasion in front of the Indian Prime Minister. But it is time to move on. A country where floods used to play havoc and political violence ruptured peace and stability is now self-sufficient in food and has done well in disaster management.

Bangladesh’s remarkable performance during the past decade could be gauged from the fact that it is no more among the least developing countries. The volume of Bangladeshi exports is twice as much as Pakistan’s and same is the case with its currency, taka, whose value has nearly doubled than that of Pakistan’s rupee. Bangladesh’s GDP growth rate is 7.9% unlike Pakistan’s 1.5%. The foreign exchange reserves held by Bangladesh are to the tune of $41 billion as against Pakistan’s $20 billion. Only on remittances, Pakistan is ahead of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has a population of 164 million as compared to Pakistan’s 220 million. Whereas, in 1971, the population of the then East Pakistan was 70 million and that of West Pakistan was 60 million. Bangladesh is also ahead of Pakistan when ranked in terms of passport index, literacy ratio, micro-credit financing and women empowerment.

With these facts in mind, four factors that contributed to transforming Bangladesh from an “international beggar” to an “economically vibrant country” are: leadership, innovation, planning, and ownership. Yet there are critical issues which Bangladesh is grappling with like political polarisation which has compounded due to the authoritarian mode of governance by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League. Political repression and media curbs also threaten to take the shine off the successes. However, the Awami League – which has seen one of his governments taken over by the military as well as its tilt towards its rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the past – has now learned its lessons and started pampering senior military officers by awarding them perks and privileges.

The Sheikh Hasina government is also accused of toeing Delhi’s line and behaving as its client instead of a sovereign state. A large number of people in Bangladesh harbour anti-India and anti-Modi sentiments due to the persecution of Muslims in India as well as the Citizenship Amendment Act that targets Bangladeshi-origin people living in Assam. That’s why some political groups in the country have announced demonstrations against the Indian PM on the occasion of his visit to Dhaka on March 26.

By silencing opposition and accepting the Indian tutelage, the Sheikh Hasina government focused on economic and social development in its bid to tell the world that it has tried to eradicate religious extremism and terrorism from the country. One needs to understand that as compared to Pakistan which faces two-pronged security threat on its eastern and western borders, Bangladesh, which is surrounded by India from three sides, has compromised on its geographical vulnerability by accepting Indian domination as a fait accompli. Its resources, unlike those of Pakistan, are not heavily spent on defence and counterterrorism measures. Since Bangladesh doesn’t consider India as an enemy state, its defence expenditures are only 1.9% of its GDP as compared to Pakistan’s 4%. Furthermore, unlike Pakistan, Bangladesh is a homogenous state and is not vulnerable to ethnic and lingual discords.

There are three major realities which Pakistan should keep in mind while understanding how and why Bangladesh is better off than Pakistan.

First, innovative and creative skills of the people of Bangladesh which are reflected in the growth of exports of garments, population control, improved literacy ratio, poverty alleviation and women empowerment. There are thousands of garment factories in Bangladesh, a country which does not grow cotton. But by importing cotton worth a couple of hundred million dollars, Bangladeshi garments factories are exporting it in the form of readymade garments worth $35 billion. On the contrary, Pakistan – despite being a cotton-growing country – has failed to increase its exports of garments and textile products beyond $10 billion. Even worse, Pakistan is now importing cotton. In fact, a lack of innovation and commitment on the part of the authorities in Pakistan because of its feudal and tribal structures, it is unable to make use of its agricultural resources, particularly cotton, to increase its exports of textiles and textile madeups.

Second, the focus of Bangladeshi government, despite a deep-running political polarisation in the country, is on the economy, governance, and social and human development. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a couple of years ago, confidently asserted that the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh will be celebrated under the Awami League’s government. She also resolved that the League which spearheaded the Bangladesh movement will ensure that the country defeat Pakistan in terms of all economic, human and social development indicators. Sheikh Hasina’s prediction several years ago has now come true mainly because of criminalisation of politics, corruption and nepotism in Pakistan.

Third, it seems as if those wielding power in Pakistan are least mindful about contributing for the betterment of the country. As a result, Pakistan continues to suffer from economic degradation, political instability, bad governance and societal breakdown. Merely securing military capability is not enough for a country to be recognised as a successful state particularly when its performance in terms of economic, human and social development indicators is deteriorating.

Unfortunately, Pakistan, which was better off than many post-colonial states in terms of its economy, human development, infrastructure and industrialisation progress till mid-1980s, went downhill because of corrupt, incompetent and dishonest leadership. Hundreds and thousands of Bangladeshis migrated to Pakistan during the late 70s and 80s because of enough economic opportunities available in the country and also because of the Pakistani rupee fetching them twice as much as Bangladeshi taka. But, things started changing during the nineties and the noughts because of economic degeneration and a consequent weak currency. And then poor law and order and an energy crisis rather forced many Pakistani businessmen to shift to Bangladesh with their investment. What is lacking on the part of Pakistan is a leadership which can make use of the available opportunities and resources to put its house in order and transform it into a vibrant state


.
 

Rafael

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How and why is Bangladesh better off than Pakistan today?



At a time when Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of its separation from Pakistan on March 26, one needs to contemplate why a country – which in 1972 was called by Dr Henry Kissinger, the National Security Adviser to then US President Richard Nixon, a ‘basket with a hole’ – is cited as a success story and better off than Pakistan in many ways. How and why has an “impoverished” Bangladesh performed better than Pakistan? Are there lessons Pakistan can learn from Bangladesh?

Let me first note here that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among chief guests on the occasion of Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day on March 26 – in an acknowledgement of Delhi’s decisive role in the disintegration of Pakistan. One must feel bitter about Pakistan bashing that would take place in Bangladesh on the occasion in front of the Indian Prime Minister. But it is time to move on. A country where floods used to play havoc and political violence ruptured peace and stability is now self-sufficient in food and has done well in disaster management.

Bangladesh’s remarkable performance during the past decade could be gauged from the fact that it is no more among the least developing countries. The volume of Bangladeshi exports is twice as much as Pakistan’s and same is the case with its currency, taka, whose value has nearly doubled than that of Pakistan’s rupee. Bangladesh’s GDP growth rate is 7.9% unlike Pakistan’s 1.5%. The foreign exchange reserves held by Bangladesh are to the tune of $41 billion as against Pakistan’s $20 billion. Only on remittances, Pakistan is ahead of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has a population of 164 million as compared to Pakistan’s 220 million. Whereas, in 1971, the population of the then East Pakistan was 70 million and that of West Pakistan was 60 million. Bangladesh is also ahead of Pakistan when ranked in terms of passport index, literacy ratio, micro-credit financing and women empowerment.

With these facts in mind, four factors that contributed to transforming Bangladesh from an “international beggar” to an “economically vibrant country” are: leadership, innovation, planning, and ownership. Yet there are critical issues which Bangladesh is grappling with like political polarisation which has compounded due to the authoritarian mode of governance by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League. Political repression and media curbs also threaten to take the shine off the successes. However, the Awami League – which has seen one of his governments taken over by the military as well as its tilt towards its rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the past – has now learned its lessons and started pampering senior military officers by awarding them perks and privileges.

The Sheikh Hasina government is also accused of toeing Delhi’s line and behaving as its client instead of a sovereign state. A large number of people in Bangladesh harbour anti-India and anti-Modi sentiments due to the persecution of Muslims in India as well as the Citizenship Amendment Act that targets Bangladeshi-origin people living in Assam. That’s why some political groups in the country have announced demonstrations against the Indian PM on the occasion of his visit to Dhaka on March 26.

By silencing opposition and accepting the Indian tutelage, the Sheikh Hasina government focused on economic and social development in its bid to tell the world that it has tried to eradicate religious extremism and terrorism from the country. One needs to understand that as compared to Pakistan which faces two-pronged security threat on its eastern and western borders, Bangladesh, which is surrounded by India from three sides, has compromised on its geographical vulnerability by accepting Indian domination as a fait accompli. Its resources, unlike those of Pakistan, are not heavily spent on defence and counterterrorism measures. Since Bangladesh doesn’t consider India as an enemy state, its defence expenditures are only 1.9% of its GDP as compared to Pakistan’s 4%. Furthermore, unlike Pakistan, Bangladesh is a homogenous state and is not vulnerable to ethnic and lingual discords.

There are three major realities which Pakistan should keep in mind while understanding how and why Bangladesh is better off than Pakistan.

First, innovative and creative skills of the people of Bangladesh which are reflected in the growth of exports of garments, population control, improved literacy ratio, poverty alleviation and women empowerment. There are thousands of garment factories in Bangladesh, a country which does not grow cotton. But by importing cotton worth a couple of hundred million dollars, Bangladeshi garments factories are exporting it in the form of readymade garments worth $35 billion. On the contrary, Pakistan – despite being a cotton-growing country – has failed to increase its exports of garments and textile products beyond $10 billion. Even worse, Pakistan is now importing cotton. In fact, a lack of innovation and commitment on the part of the authorities in Pakistan because of its feudal and tribal structures, it is unable to make use of its agricultural resources, particularly cotton, to increase its exports of textiles and textile madeups.

Second, the focus of Bangladeshi government, despite a deep-running political polarisation in the country, is on the economy, governance, and social and human development. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a couple of years ago, confidently asserted that the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh will be celebrated under the Awami League’s government. She also resolved that the League which spearheaded the Bangladesh movement will ensure that the country defeat Pakistan in terms of all economic, human and social development indicators. Sheikh Hasina’s prediction several years ago has now come true mainly because of criminalisation of politics, corruption and nepotism in Pakistan.

Third, it seems as if those wielding power in Pakistan are least mindful about contributing for the betterment of the country. As a result, Pakistan continues to suffer from economic degradation, political instability, bad governance and societal breakdown. Merely securing military capability is not enough for a country to be recognised as a successful state particularly when its performance in terms of economic, human and social development indicators is deteriorating.

Unfortunately, Pakistan, which was better off than many post-colonial states in terms of its economy, human development, infrastructure and industrialisation progress till mid-1980s, went downhill because of corrupt, incompetent and dishonest leadership. Hundreds and thousands of Bangladeshis migrated to Pakistan during the late 70s and 80s because of enough economic opportunities available in the country and also because of the Pakistani rupee fetching them twice as much as Bangladeshi taka. But, things started changing during the nineties and the noughts because of economic degeneration and a consequent weak currency. And then poor law and order and an energy crisis rather forced many Pakistani businessmen to shift to Bangladesh with their investment. What is lacking on the part of Pakistan is a leadership which can make use of the available opportunities and resources to put its house in order and transform it into a vibrant state


.
Ever heard the story about a dog and a wolf?
 

Andhadhun

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Talking about Independent countries here mate, not colonies.
Which one is pakistan ? Apparently all it takes is ONE phone call.
Ever heard the story about a dog and a wolf?
Ever heard the story of cutting your nose to spite your face ?
baring Pakistan! baring China! bhuttan wants you to fk off ,nepal doesnt like you!

and china occupying your land!!

dont be cute baboon pleaaj sarrrr!
And YET we have good relationships with ALL of them.
 

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