ISLAMABAD: While newly-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made some positive overtures to India soon after his party won the election, senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) officials say no major foreign policy initiative towards the neighbouring country is likely to take place soon.

His inner party circles as well as foreign policy-making institutions in Pakistan have given him the same advice: As far as normalising relations with India is concerned, keep it slow.

PML-N officials said that it had been decided in party meetings that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will focus on tackling domestic problems. “For the next one year our government will be focused on the energy sector … our number one, two and three priorities will be the energy sector,” PML-N senior leader, Ahsan Iqbal told Dawn.com.

He added: “The electricity crisis has overshadowed everything else, it has even overshadowed diplomacy. Nobody is taking us seriously in the international arena. A country where there is 18 hours of load shedding, how can anyone take it seriously?” he said.

Nawaz Sharif’s decision to manage the foreign affairs portfolio himself, and his upbeat statements about relations with India during the election campaign, created the impression that he might rush for a 1999 Nawaz-Vajpayee summit-like event immediately after coming to power. This had given rise to the impression that a major foreign policy initiative is on the cards.

Former foreign secretary, Shamshad Ahmed Khan, who is considered close to Nawaz, also confirmed that the prime minister has been advised from all sides that he should not show haste in making any major shift in policy connected with relations with India. “Nawaz Sharif knows my opinion and he knows the opinion prevailing within the foreign office – that we should not rush for it,” Shamshad told Dawn.com

Nawaz’s desire to rush for improving ties with India is likely to be further blunted when senior military officials brief him sometime next week, about the security and military situation, including the situation on the eastern and western borders.

Although the country is facing no immediate threat on its eastern border, the situation, nevertheless, is far from normal. Indian military planners have been considering the dangerous ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, under which they believe they can punish Pakistan with their conventional military superiority and yet stop short of invoking Pakistan’s nuclear response.

Besides, security and foreign policy experts believe that there is hardly any enthusiasm visible in New Delhi for undertaking a major foreign policy initiative towards Pakistan. In India, the Congress-led government is facing a lot of domestic pressure and the opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has adopted a very strident approach towards Pakistan. Experts say that in this situation, the Indian government will not go out of its way to normalise relations with Pakistan.

“The only major policy shift expected from the Congress government is that perhaps it will agree to resume dialogue with Pakistan, which they suspended in January following an incident on the Line of Control (LoC),” security expert Hassan Askari explained.

Ironically, Pakistani and Indian leadership is diametrically opposed as far as the agenda of potential talks is concerned. The countries have a completely different set of priorities in dealing with each other.

A senior PML-N leader told Dawn.com that Nawaz is clear that he wants to normalise relations with India in the spirit of the Lahore declaration. This would, in practical terms, mean that Kashmir has to be given primacy, after which come the issues of nuclear security , followed by a set of issues ranging from trade, to people-to-people contact and other disputes like Sir Creek and Siachen.

On the other hand, Indian leaders have come to focusing exclusively on a single point agenda of terrorism, in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Yet, despite the stark difference in priorities, there is still hope. Opposing ideas about the agenda of the talks have, in the past, led to a stalemate in the dialogue between the two countries. But many former diplomats of Pakistan say that the two countries can overcome these problems, if given a chance. “These are the challenges for diplomacy, the best solution for reaching common ground is to let the diplomats make bridges and you will find the way forward,” Shamshad concluded.

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Comments (25)

shihab
June 7, 2013 3:58 pm

Pakistan still provoking india, pakistan dont have control in their military, today, they killed indian soldier

captainjohann
June 7, 2013 4:56 pm

It is the big elephant in the tent America which will decide the course of rrelations

ravi
June 7, 2013 6:38 pm

Not changed expected till new govt comes in.

Expect radically different/ reset in relations, if maverick Modi, becomes indian PM or HM in 2014.

Caz
June 7, 2013 7:02 pm

Pakistan is based on an inrellectually dishonest idea and has no basis to exist. Its future lies in becoming a special status fully autonomous state within the Union of India and then re-connect with its bigger,better and stronger part over a suitably long period of time.

Siyalkotia
June 7, 2013 7:26 pm

Terrorism should be Pakistan's priority too. We created this monster and now it is eating us too.

soulmind
June 7, 2013 8:09 pm

expect nothing out of this excepts both sides forget territorial claims and engage in business activities to prosper the south asia region on the line of east asia.

Caz
June 8, 2013 1:28 am

Pakistan fundamental problem is it is created on an intellectually dishonest ideology and has no basis to exist. And India is an emerging global economic and military power.

gopal
June 8, 2013 2:02 am

Nawaz Sharif has a gun on his head. Army rules Pakistan, not the civilians.

By the way,we Indians do not care.

Zak
June 8, 2013 2:45 am

Nawaz is naive to think India will resolve anything. Indians have to be bullied into doing things.

Badar
June 8, 2013 3:40 am

NS rushed a little in the beginning due to his simple nature. Bharat has changed a lot since he last Lahore Summit. Bharat does not seem to be in any rush to normalize relationship with Pakistan. We should always welcome any positive move from their end but dont rush it. Keep it cool for now. Good advice by Shamshad Ahmed and others.

ordinary_citizen
June 8, 2013 5:05 am

I agree with the observation that slow and steady wins the race.

Tamil selvan
June 8, 2013 6:38 am

If this article is to be believed then it shows Kkhi clad generals run the country contrary to the lectionaries of the civilian Govt. will Pak ever change for the better?

Guru
June 8, 2013 8:11 am

Deep State is asserting itself, looks like. Civilians need to come out & assert themselves and drive policy. Policy is too important to be left to the generals.

Prakash Rao
June 8, 2013 11:28 am

It is back to square one. Pre poll talk is different. Post-poll compulsions are more realistic. Relations between India and Pakistan will continue to dither till another major terror attack takes place in India and what ever little bonhomie is there will take a nose dive. Good luck to hawks and sad reading for doves of both countries.

Rashid Sultan
June 8, 2013 1:25 pm

Why not buy electricity from India in exchange for agricultural products that we are better at producing? This will address issue of power shortage / load shedding virtually immediately and improve our trade. Rhetoric and sabre rattling doesn't solve any problems. Reason and amiability does

Umer
June 8, 2013 4:40 pm

@Rashid Sultan: sir, does India has enough electricity? if so then i'm agree with you..

Zain
June 8, 2013 5:03 pm

Why not focus on Iran? buy electricity from Iran and go ahead with PAK/IRAN gas pipeline.

Zimbo_Indian
June 8, 2013 9:38 pm

@Rashid Sultan: True. We need to involve so much of money into bilateral relations that a large number of people develop a vested interest in establishing and maintaining peaceful relations. But given 1000 years of antagonistic relations between Hindus and Muslims (and we must accept that India-Pak problem is really a communal problem and not a national one), this is unlikely to happen in the present generation at least.

irfan
June 8, 2013 11:29 pm

Dear dear, peace is not so near. Not in the past, neither the coming years. Donot loose your hearts. Keep alive the prayers

NASAH (USA)
June 9, 2013 5:59 am

"Although the country is facing no immediate threat on its eastern border, the situation, nevertheless, is far from normal. Indian military planners have been considering the dangerous ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, under which they believe they can punish Pakistan with their conventional military superiority and yet stop short of invoking Pakistan’s nuclear response."

Absolute hogwash. Doesn't it sound familiar like the Pakistani version of Indian death by thousand cuts. These old fossilized diplomats on both sides of the divide will never let Pakistan and India come closer. Nawaz and Singh must listen to their own real politik instincts use their own political judgment utilize their years and years of political experience to find ways to bury the 65 years old hatchet between the two sibling countries during these dangerous globalized times.

Nawaz Sharif has taken a BOLD step in visiting Afghanistan. I am sure he was advised against "rushing" to Afghanistan as well.

Agha Ata
June 9, 2013 7:23 am

@Rashid Sultan:I agree with Mr. Rashid Sultan one hundred percent. That would also help in building friendship with each other (if we are really serious in doing so) but if you think permanent relationships is not desirable, than of course you can look elsewhere.

Kunal Prasad
June 9, 2013 12:08 pm

@Rashid Sultan: India itself produces a lot of agriculture product there is nothing which Pakistani produces and india does not.And india will not sell electicity as india itself needs it.

Kunal Prasad
June 9, 2013 12:09 pm

@Rashid Sultan: India itself produces a lot of agriculture product there is nothing which Pakistani produces and india does not.And india will not sell electicity as india itself needs it.

yasir
June 9, 2013 12:32 pm

@Rashid Sultan: yes Mr Rashid, exchange is far better for the well being of Pakistan.. but Pakistan too is enriched with proper electricity but turncoats ve overshadowed it capacity. India's popluation is more than the double of our thrice, yet she provide indians with huge amount of electricity.

yasir
June 9, 2013 1:25 pm

Why not buy electricity from India in exchange for agricultural products that we are better at producing? This will address issue of power shortage / load shedding virtually immediately and improve our trade. Rhetoric and sabre rattling doesn't solve any problems. Reason and amiability does

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