Washington: Supporting India’s determination that “talks and terror” cannot go together, a former top Pakistan diplomat has said another high-level meeting between the two countries would be fruitless unless Islamabad ensures the terrorist infrastructure on its territory is dismantled. Pakistan’s recent initiatives for talks with India must be seen in the context of the economic and international pressures on it, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani told reporters here Tuesday. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France His remarks have come just ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Kyrgyzstan on June 13-14. India and Pakistan are part of the regional security grouping and leaders of both the countries are set to attend the meeting in Bishkek. In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, Pakistan premier Imran Khan had requested resumption of talks between the two countries to resolve all differences. But no meeting has been planned between them on the sidelines of the summit. Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics Prize Haqqani’s remarks also came on a day the government in Islamabad presented its national budget amid an austerity drive to wriggle the country out of the financial mess it is in. Earlier this month on Eid festival, Khan said there will be no increase in the defence budget because of “our critical financial situation”. The defence budget presented Tuesday reflected that sentiment with no increase proposed in expenditure compared to last fiscal. Weeks ago, Khan’s government negotiated a USD 6 billion bailout package with the International Monetary Fund to overcome the financial woes. Haqqani said another high-level meeting between India and Pakistan would be meaningless unless it is accompanied with dismantling of terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and giving up the notion of the two countries being “permanent enemies”. “Between 1950 and December 2015, when Modi dropped in on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, leaders of the two countries have met 45 times,” he said, but talks have never led to durable peace. “The door to negotiations must never be considered permanently shut but nor should dialogue be an end in itself,” he reiterated. Haqqani, now the director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute, is considered an uncompromising critic of the Pakistani establishment and the Jihadi ideology. He has often voiced his disagreements with the establishment during public discussions. In an article published recently, he wrote that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is right to have determined that talks for talks’ sake are meaningless as long as Pakistan refuses to change its view of its larger neighbour as a permanent enemy. In Haqqani’s view hostility towards India emanates from Pakistan’s national ideology based on religious identity and antipathy cultivated by the military that dominates the country. Like many other countries, India and Pakistan have unresolved disputes, he said, but other countries do not have national ideologies revolving around opposition to others. “Pakistan tends to engage in talks with India for global respectability, but its dominant military is unable to shed its ideological aversion to normal ties with India,” he stressed. The former diplomat cited the Pakistani military and said it was “not raised proportionate to an external threat”. “It needs a threat proportionate to its size to justify its claims on the meagre resources of a low-income country,” he said, adding Pakistan inherited one-third of British India’s army, which had originally been raised for the Second World War.
Adopting a Presidential Statement, the 15-nation Council spotlighted, among other things, cross-border issues, including the large flows of natural resources, migrants and refugees, as well as the activities of armed groups and criminal networks in and around the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).“Solutions to the prevailing situation in the Great Lakes region should come within a regional perspective, by addressing the root causes of conflicts, many of which are regional in nature,” the Council underscored.The Council expressed grave concern over the continued illicit exploitation of natural resources and their trade in the eastern DRC, urging coordinated efforts by the signatory States of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework, regional organizations and the international community to undercut the economic lifelines of armed groups benefitting from those activities.Today’s adoption of the text followed the 21 March Council open debate on the prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region, held under Angola’s presidency for the month.On the security front, the Council reiterated the importance of neutralizing all armed groups in country’s eastern part, particularly the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the various Mai Mai groups, in accordance with resolution 2277 (2016).Noting the announcement of the resumption of joint military operations between the DRC’s Government and the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), the Council called for immediate restart of such activities in earnest to completely neutralize those armed groups.Turning to the political front, the Council urged regional support for initiatives aimed at promoting inclusive dialogue amongst national stakeholders and stressed the importance of enabling the full and free participation of peaceful political parties, civil society and the media in the political process.The Great Lakes region includes Burundi and Rwanda as well as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.While welcoming the credible and peaceful conduct of elections in some States in the region, the Council noted that the recent and ongoing electoral processes in other States raise deep concerns about the risk of instability, human rights and humanitarian law violations and abuses, and further displacement of people.The Council called on States in the region to take steps to ensure that electoral processes promote peace and security through timely, peaceful, inclusive and credible elections.