Doublespeak comes naturally to Pakistan, no matter whether the speaker is a political leader, a bureaucrat or an army officer. Days after Pakistan PM Imran Khan stated that there may be a better chance of peace and settlement of the Kashmir issue if the ruling party (BJP) wins the General Election, outgoing High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood says his country is hoping for a ‘re-engagement’ with India after the Lok Sabha polls. Unlike the PM, Mahmood has thankfully not specified which party should emerge victorious in the Indian parliamentary elections. Mahmood, who has been appointed the next foreign secretary, says there is need for an ‘objective’ narrative about Pakistan in India which could ‘facilitate peaceful, cooperative and good neighbourly ties’.
A bit of introspection would have made it obvious to the High Commissioner that Pakistan itself is responsible for the narrative, especially in the backdrop of the Pulwama and Balakot incidents. Indeed, as he says, diplomacy and dialogue are indispensable to improve ties between the two neighbours. However, Pakistan first needs to take visible and decisive action by dismantling the terror camps still functional on its soil. What started out as a crackdown on militant outfits last month has ended in a wishy-washy probe that has given the clean chit to the suspects, including Jaish-e-Mohammed chief (JeM) Masood Azhar’s son and brother. It was Pakistan-based JeM which had promptly taken responsibility for the Pulwama attack. While Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi admitted that the terror outfit’s chief was present in that country, military spokesperson Major Gen Asif Ghafoor claimed that the JeM no longer existed in Pakistan.
Such conflicting statements have made India and the international community seriously doubt Pakistan’s intentions. Even on the emotive issue of the Kartarpur corridor, Pakistan has been playing divisive politics by not offering access to Hindus. Extending the olive branch to India must go hand in hand with reining in Khalistan sympathisers and other rabble-rousers. Unless concerted efforts are made to wipe out the factories of terror, Pakistan’s credibility would remain under a cloud.