Gen Gurmit Singh gave us detailed insights into the reasons that led Pakistan to request India for a hand of peace. He also talks about the internal situation in Pakistan, where does it stands on global stage, history of ceasefire agreements between India and Pakistan and India’s initiative’s to protect itself and it’s national interests.
Goa Chronicle: Why Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has started talking of having peace with India?
Retd. Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh: Winds of changes have started coming from Pakistan. In 2020, we had heightened security challenges both at LAC and LOC. China and Pakistan were in the collusive stand together against India and definitely 2020 was a testing time. From Feb 2021, there were visible changes emanating from Pakistan and also from China. A first hand of peace was shown by Pakistan Army Chief on 2nd February, followed by low rhetoric on Kashmir solidarity day on 5th February. But, distinctly, avoidance of Kashmir reference in the meeting of SAARC on the COVID issues, was noticeable. The gesture of permitting Indian airspace for Pakistan Prime Minister move to Sri Lanka was an added response, too. But, Significantly, on 18th March, Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa while talking at Islamabad security dialogue, categorically indicated on peace gestures between the two nations.
Prior to that, we had DGMO level talks on 24th Feb between India and Pakistan, and a joint statement was issued to effect ceasefire on the LOC. These actions were indicators for a desire, initiative and request for peace from Pakistan. How it happened ; My assessment is that strategic compulsion of Pakistan, because of environment that is existing there and it may also be due to the failures in various arenas of diplomacy, economy, governance, administration, covid and all combined, compelled Pakistan to go in for peace with India. The strategies of terror, proxies, fundamentalism, extremism, jihad and radicalization on which Pakistan has been anchoring themselves since 1989, has damaged Pakistan in every facet of it.
They are diplomatically isolated and economically they have absolutely fallen into debt trap, loan and borrowing from the world with IMF, FATF and China staring at them. Terrorism itself has taken massive toll from Pakistan. A look at the internal dynamics in Pakistan, indicates the situation in Balochistan, Pashtun, Sindh, Karachi and Gilgit Baltistan, which are on the way for self-destruction. Marginally, Pakistan has been isolated by Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA and they have been left with China, Turkey and to some extent Malaysia. Pakistan Army, ISI, and Terrorist Groups have led them to an edge of self-destruction. Internally, Pakistan Democratic Movement has exerted significant pressure on the Pakistan Government. A concerted look at environment within Pakistan indicates that their internal governance, administration, diplomacy and economy have suffered significantly, leading them to strategic compulsions for the hand of peace.
Goa Chronicle: How instrumental the role of the USA and UAE has been in resuming Pakistan’s peace talks with India with respect to the recent cease-fire agreement that took place?
Retd. Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh: After 5th August 2019, on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, effected a break in the diplomatic channels, although backend channels would have been working to some extent. Pakistan has been in a state of self-destruction with every parameter of being a nation on the edge. Earlier too, back channels on Track two and Three Channels had worked, but with India’s stand of zero tolerance on terrorism and no talks till the terror exists has damped their steam too.
With current stifled diplomatic environment, communications with India was rather low. Even USA President Donald Trump had offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, but, it was respectfully declined. India, principally did not encourage third parties to mediate, primarily keeping it at bilateral platform for resolutions. After the 1972 Shimla Talks, the focus has been structurally on bilateral plane. Although media has indicated that USA and UAE have played a role in creating environment, wherein Gen Bajwa and Pakistan has been able to communicate their desire for peace with India, which led to ceasefire on the LOC between the two nations.
At the same time, Pakistani Diaspora in the world has also suffered immensely due to drop of Pakistani reputation abroad. In fact, Pakistan is seen as synonymous with terrorism, fundamentalism, radicalism and jihad. The ill effects of ISI and terrorist groups , may be cursor for some good meaning nations such as UAE, USA to play reconciliatory role. Pakistan has indulged in third party indulgence apart from rhetoric of UNSC resolutions intermittently, on Jammu and Kashmir. However, Pakistan ramblings on third parties have been effectively blocked by India consistently.
Goa Chronicle: Looking at the history of the peace process between India and Pakistan do you think this ceasefire agreement will last and why should we trust them?
Retd. Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh: Firstly, it is rather difficult to trust Pakistan. Historical engagements with Pakistan leaves little to rely on them. After every spells of peace, there has been disappointment only. The short spells of peaceful environment were breached with conflictual actions. The spell of conflicts and its pattern has been repeated multiple times. In fact, the start point of the whole conflict was 22nd Oct 1947, when Pakistan decided to invade India and employ tribals and raiders against Kashmir.
They, thereafter have never been able to change tracks since then despite the hard fact that their nation had been broken into two parts in 1971 India Pakistan War. Pakistan has paid a heavy cost for its errors in their strategies, policies, and the way they have messed with India. Today, the status of Pakistan on any front with respect to Comprehensive National Power, from a point of view of diplomacy, military, economy, technology, governance, and administration, in all the parameters, comes lowest in the committee of the nations.
I would say there have been numerous initiatives by India to take Pakistan off from the agenda of Hate India, Anti India, to be in competition with India and trying to interfere with India.
Pakistan has indeed used all its cards available with them on negative list. They attempted to use terror, proxies, misinterpreted their own religion and dubiously created mujahideens on the platform of misinterpreted jihad. They have literally killed many of their generations through terrorism, radicalization and hatred as anchor and policy. Radicalization, fundamentalism and extremism has had toll on Pakistan in arenas of emotionality, and education Strategy, policy and the directions of Pakistan anchored on Hate India and Anti India has indeed brought them to the nadir of nationhood.
Indian initiative’s in 2003 Ceasefire Agreement, post 1971 return of 93,000 Prisoners of War and even PM Narendra Modi initiative on unplanned Lahore nicety has been paid back in a deceptive and unreliable acts. Actually, the problem : Pakistan Army and ISI has webbed a strategic direction of Pakistan which only takes it towards the self-destruction. The day, Pakistani Awaam would realize that it’s Pakistan Army and ISI, which has literally destroyed Pakistan, the realization and awakening would emanate. Pakistan Army would not know which side to look, and that day is not too far.
The query on how long would the ceasefire on LOC would last, would be answered automatically as weather and snow conditions at LOC with deep urge for Pakistani terrorists to attempt infiltration would open up. Primarily, there is little trust on Pakistan, and there would be differing voices in their fissurous internal dynamics too. The strategic compulsion of Pakistan in current dynamics does not offer much capacity or capability to have the same irritative agenda against India. India’s trend and strategies have undergone a big change.
India now believes in strong resolve, hard decisions, which was visible at the LAC in East Ladakh against China and in Balakot Air Strike and 2016 Surgical Strikes, too. Pakistan has registered that hereafter cease fire violations will be answered with punitive and precise retaliation. Secondly, if a terrorist attack emanates from Pakistan, then corresponding surgical strikes, airstrikes and with higher scale will be delivered to them. In fact, Pakistan was indulging in nuclear bogie for too long but it has been told in no uncertain terms that massive retaliation apart from missile defences cover is the status. The Indian deterrence is of a much higher profile. The recent times have demonstrated India’s resilience, capabilities, capacity, and our skills as a nation.
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