Except Left, Zardari’s dialogue offer has no takers in India

May 11th, 2009 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Manish Chand
New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s latest overture to India to restart talks after elections has found no takers in the political establishment barring the Left parties.

With Islamabad showing no sign of action against those behind the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, New Delhi is unlikely to resume the stalled dialogue process with Islamabad in the near future if either the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) or National Democratic Alliance (NDA) forms the next government.

Islamabad’s best bet seems to be a Third Front government in which the Left parties will have a decisive say as they appear to be the only ones favouring restoration of the dialogue process on a parallel track with the process of bringing the Mumbai attackers to justice.

“They have not acted against the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks. They have not abandoned their support to terrorism as an intrsument of policy. Nothing has changed,” Brajesh Mishra, former national security adviser in the government of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, told IANS.

“It’s unlikely any government will resume dialogue with Pakistan in such a situation,” Mishra said.

“The government has made it clear that there will be no resumption of dialogue unless Pakistan shows visible action against the Mumbai terrorists. A new government is unlikely to change that position,” said Mishra.

Agrees G. Parthasarathy, a former envoy to Pakistan: “Restoring dialogue at this stage does not make sense. There is no movement against those behind the Mumbai attacks. Some of those arrested have been released.”

A day after Zardari said he would start fresh dialogue with India once elections were over, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday reiterated the Congress-led UPA government’s oft-repeated stance that any rethink on starting dialogue with Pakistan will depend on “effective steps” by Pakistan against the Mumbai culprits.

“Our minimum demand is that Pakistan must take effective steps to bring the Mumbai culprits to book before we can resume the dialogue,” Manmohan Singh told reporters in Chennai while on a campaign tour.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the NDA and never misses a chance to criticise the Manmohan Singh government for its alleged soft approach on terror and Pakistan, is unlikely to change this position.

“Though we want friendship, peace and cross-border terrorism can’t go hand in hand. Pakistan has to prove its intention to punish the perpetrators of the

Mumbai attacks and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism before talks can start,” senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told IANS.

Almost the entire Indian political establishment is opposed to any resumption of composite dialogue with Pakistan in view of its perceived role in the Mumbai mayhem in November 2008, except for Left parties which believe that the cessation of talks is no solution to resolving deeper issues between the two countries.

“We are always for a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan. There is no alternative to talks. One can restart the dialogue process and at the same time intensify international pressure on Pakistan to act against Mumbai terrorists,” Communist Party of India leader D. Raja told IANS.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

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