India's PM too soft on Pakistan? Opposition says yes.
Opposition party members walk out of parliament over what they say is an unwarranted concession to Pakistan.
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He said that Pakistan had made some encouraging moves, including admitting that terrorists from a group based inside Pakistan carried out the Mumbai attacks: "Let me say that in the affairs of two neighbors we should recall what [US] President Reagan once said: trust but verify."Skip to next paragraph
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Dissent from an opposition party is to be expected, but "in the journalistic community and people who follow foreign affairs, and within the [ruling] party, there is growing unhappiness over this extraordinarily maladroit formulation," says Sumit Ganguly, a visiting scholar at Stanford University.
India's foreign secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon, admitted that the drafting of the agreement "could have been better."
The US has applied pressure on India to return to the negotiating table with Pakistan, partly in the hopes that the Pakistani military would redeploy troops from its eastern border with India to its western border with Afghanistan. It's also been trying to convince Pakistan that the Taliban, not India, are the major threat to its interests.
"I think that the US government is deluding itself on that score," says Ms. Schaffer. "The [Pakistani] Army now believes the Pakistani Taliban are a threat worth taking seriously. [But] I do not believe they consider that this in any way diminishes or puts into second place the threat from India."
Tempest in a teapot?
On one level, the controversial joint statement makes little practical difference. The next time the foreign secretaries of the two countries do sit down, "they are going to spend 97 percent of their time talking about [the attacks on] Mumbai," says Schaffer.
But the controversy reflects a deepened skepticism post-Mumbai among Indian experts about Pakistan's ability to move away from militancy.
"I've lost all faith in Pakistan" since the Mumbai attacks, says Dr. Ganguly. "It's a dysfunctional, pathological state which needs to be reconstructed from the ground up."
He says the main problem is that real power in Pakistan remains with the military, and the military leadership still views Islamic jihadis as useful tools of foreign policy.
But other experts see Singh's outreach less as a concession than a way to string Pakistan along.
"I think he feels conflict with Pakistan is useless because the balance is shifting in their favor and there's no sense getting in a conflict," says Hafeez Malik, a South Asia expert at Villanova University.
India's economy, he says, is developing so rapidly that India is just seeking a way to continue containing Pakistan and running out the clock, since a day will come when economic strength will translate into an unassailable military and diplomatic position.
Pakistan's senior military leaders know this, he says, and are desperate to get a favorable settlement on Kashmir before it's too late. Worries that the two countries might agree on the status quo may have prompted the Mumbai attacks, he says.