Talks only if meaningful

The possession of nuclear weapons by two countries, like Pakistan and India, which have serious disputes between them, should be a most persuasive reality for their leaderships to take steps, without losing time, to resolve them in a peaceful manner, lest things should go out of hand and the danger of recourse to arms should become real. There is every possibility, given the long-standing hostility and distrust between them, that a desperate situation in conventional war might end up in the use of these weapons of mass destruction. Thus, the sanest course available, if war is to be avoided, is for the two parties to sit across the table and thrash out solutions, and let these WMDs remain in the arsenal to serve the purpose of deterrence only.

Unfortunately, New Delhi, suffering from delusions of power being sedulously nourished by the superpower to promote its own strategic designs, has not understood this simple logic. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose sincerity in settling these disputes Prime Minister Gilani has somehow no doubt, keeps putting excuses to veer the talks, if at all they are held, towards issues of terrorism and promotion of bilateral trade. The whole purpose, obviously, remains the normalisation of relations while letting disputes hang fire. Islamabad, one should have thought, has become wiser by now and knows the Indian tactics pretty well. Even the course of talks due to begin next week at New Delhi should provide a peep into the Indian mind. The two Secretaries of Interior would take up terrorism, drug trafficking and humanitarian issues. Then, the Commerce Secretaries meeting in Islamabad in April would find ways to develop bilateral trade. Little thought is being spared for the patent reality that once disputes had been settled, the threat of terrorism, which is a trite bogey that comes in handy for New Delhi to postpone discussion on Kashmir and other issues, would automatically dissipate into thin air, people-to-people contacts get a fillip and commercial exchanges pick up. The attempt at reversing the process exposes the hypocrisy of the Indian leadership – Nation