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Pakistani baby-kisser Imran Khan arrives for a attack assemblage in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 21. (Anjum Naveed/AP) By Barkha Dutt Barkha Dutt Email Bio Follow December 3, 2018
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, seems adapted by the accountability of his post. I met him in Islamabad on the day he completed his 100th day in office. He appeared so abundant added reserved, attentive and academic than I bethink him. I came abroad with the consequence that there is no adventitious for any actual advance for India and Pakistan.
But if there is to be alike incremental advance amid the two nuclear-armed nations that accept fought four wars, Khan is anon India’s best bet.
I was amid 22 Indian journalists in Pakistan (at the allurement of Khan’s government) to address on the aperture of a visa-free aisle for Sikh pilgrims in the bound apple of Kartarpur. This is the armpit area Ascendancy Nanak, the architect of the Sikh faith, is said to accept spent his aftermost years.
This should accept been a blissful ceremony of anti-imperialism. At the time of partition, the British drew a band to carve out Pakistan from India, abstraction bodies from their homes and places of worship. It was one of the best agitated displacements in history. The abiding bequest of allotment meant that Sikh admirers in Indian Punjab could alone attending at the aftermost address of their ascendancy through binoculars placed at the all-embracing border. A aisle for the chargeless movement of pilgrims into Pakistan should accept been a abrupt moment of adaptation in a acutely damaged relationship.
Unfortunately, arguable statements on both abandon of the bound led to a bottomward spiral. At the Kartarpur opening, Khan mentioned Kashmir, an accessible irritant for India, which has time and afresh brought up Pakistan’s advocacy of agitation both in Kashmir and abroad in India. Then, Khan’s adopted abbot added to the abrasion by boasting that India had been played.
On the Indian side, both the Narendra Modi government and the action Congress affair that governs in Punjab batten in alloyed messages. India beatific two (Sikh) federal ministers to appear the ceremony. Congress Abbot Navjot Singh Sidhu (whom Khan knows from his cricketing past) was additionally present.
In Pakistan, the Indian ministers likened aperture the crusade avenue to the abatement of the Berlin Wall, while in Delhi, the adopted abbot disqualified out any resumption of dialogue. To accomplish affairs worse, Kartarpur was inaugurated the aforementioned ceremony as the 10th ceremony of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United States appear a $5 actor compensation on the terrorists — the third such action of a accolade for justice. (The U.S. move is absurd to work. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who active the alarm accumulation amenable for the attacks — and on whom the Americans had ahead declared a $10 actor compensation — continues to accomplish with dispensation in Pakistan; he alike fielded proxy candidates in the contempo elections. India can’t move advanced unless a austere crackdown takes abode on the agitation basement continued acclimated by the Pakistani aegis enactment as a weapon of agee warfare adjoin India.)
Long adventure short, the accoutrement of Kartarpur unraveled afore they could be acclimated to braid calm any aggregate histories.
So why do I still alarm Khan addition India can do business with? My advanced accompany in Pakistan (who altercate that Khan is a artefact of the army’s patronage) are bent with me for adage so. But Khan has two things activity for him that his noncombatant predecessors did not. One, the actual actuality of his accurateness to the Pakistani aggressive is an advantage for India. For too long, Indian bureaucrats accept been bound in a stale, formulaic chat arrangement with Pakistani counterparts who accept no ascendancy to booty any absolute decisions. Called the “composite dialogue,” this anatomy of talks goes aback to 1997 and places terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, water-sharing and drug-smuggling all in the aforementioned bassinet of issues on the talks table. It has been approved and activated — and it has failed. The India-Pakistan accord cannot be run by authoritative tinkering any more, nor can it be steered by unempowered noncombatant politicians in Pakistan who are at allowance with their own aggressive — as was the case with ousted prime abbot Nawaz Sharif.
Imran Khan fabricated it a point to acquaint us he wouldn’t be “one of those Pakistani politicians who will say, ‘I appetite to do this, but my Army won’t let me.’” His dig was at Sharif, and he was active home the point that there was complete aggregation amid him and the army. If India can’t allocution anon to the Pakistani aggressive ( and I anticipate that approach should be opened as well), why not tap into the adjacency Khan enjoys to those who absolutely cull the levers of ability in Pakistan?
The added cogent yet underreported account by Khan in his chat with us was a advertence to what action wonks alarm the Musharraf-Manmohan Four Point Blueprint for Kashmir. It is now accepted that India and Pakistan about accomplished a Kashmir adjustment back Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s above army arch was additionally the country’s admiral — and Manmohan Singh was the Indian prime minister. At the affection of their abstract acceding was an accepting of the cachet quo and “no redrawing of borders.”
Since raiders invaded Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, Pakistan has captivated genitalia of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan that India’s Parliament absolutely recognizes as illegally occupied. In reverse, Pakistan has again approved to lay claims to Kashmir on the Indian side. Musharraf-Manmohan were abutting to a celebrated settlement, but consecutive Pakistani governments accept disowned the blueprint or any ability of it. Khan’s answer of the arrangement and his description of Kashmir as “solvable” (in chat with us) is arresting and needs afterpiece attention. Especially accustomed his accurateness to the Pakistani military.
Whether beneath burden from China (or as an advance to the Americans who accept appear the abandonment of $300 actor in aid), Khan and Pakistan’s army arch both assume to be sending some arresting smoke signals.
The better bold of Imran Khan’s activity begins now
Who’s abashed of Imran Khan’s Pakistan? About everyone.
Sorry India, Nawaz Sharif’s moment of accuracy is about him, not us