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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 30 New Delhi July 18, 2015

After Iran Deal and Modi-Sharif Talks

Monday 20 July 2015, by SC


Two major events have taken place on the global plane.

On July 14 Iran and a group of six nations (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) clinched a final, historic deal on Iran’s nuclear activities. In turn, the deal will end Iran’s international isolation. It is a remarkable breakthrough in world affairs and the global media acknowledged the pivotal role played by US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in securing this momentous agreement.

Viewed from the Indian perspective, the Iran nuclear deal is of immense significance as now Iran could exert a positive stabilising influence in Afghanistan with the US troops’ withdrawal from that country. Besides Iranian oil, Tehran’s re-emergence on the global scene would help counterbalance Sunni extremism in India’s neighbourhood.

Four days before the conclusion of the Iran accord, the PMs of India and Pakistan held their first structured meeting in a year at the Russian city of Ufa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit (where both the countries were made full SCO members for the first time). This happened on July 10. A Joint Statement, issued by the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries after the hourlong talks, informed that both sides had “condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia”. In the course of their discussions, the two leaders had also signalled their willingness to find ways to expedite the trial of those who engineered the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. However, Kashmir was not referred to in the Joint Statement (even as Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz insisted that it came up during the talks). By way of concrete outcome, it was decided that the NSAs of the two sides, Aziz and Ajit Doval, would shortly meet to take up the security issues.

However, within less than a week the positive message of the talks has suddenly vanished into thin air. First, Pakistan announced that it had shot down a drone on its territory implying that New Delhi had sent it on a spying mission. Simultaneously the firing from Pakistan’s side of the LoC intensified breaking the ceasefire and killing an innocent Indian civilian. In the circumstances the External Affairs Minister, Defence Minister, NSA and Foreign Secretary met at the Union Home Minister’s office in the Capital for a joint meeting today and declared that the Pakistani attacks on the LoC will invite firm and decisive retaliation from the Indian side. It was also found that the drone, alleged to have been sent from India, was actually of Chinese-make and not of Indian origin.

But PM Narendra Modi was not present in this meeting.

Obviously there are elements on both sides hell-bent on torpedoing the restoration of Indo-Pak harmony. They are all itching for a conflict, even an armed one between the two security forces.

Unless these jingoists are stopped on their tracks peace along the India-Pakistan border, leave aside amity between the two states, cannot return. The situation is turning grave. There is no time to lose. One cannot possibly sit idle in the prevailing scenario for that would be suicidal in the long run.

July 16 S.C.

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