The way Sartaj Aziz allowed himself to be treated shows as if our political establishment desperately wanted to embrace this national humiliation to strengthen India’s aggressive posture assumed by Narendra Modi.
The Heart of Asia Conference held in Amritsar on December 4, 2016 was a disaster not only for Pakistan, but for the very concept for which the platform was created nearly half a decade ago. Selection of the very venue of the conference was ominous for the hosts also. Amritsar is the holiest city for the Sikh religion which houses Golden Temple. This temple, under the orders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was attacked by Indian Army in 1984 in an operation codenamed Operation Blue Star. In that operation, separatists holed up in the temple were killed and the Movement for a separate Sikh Homeland, Khalistan, was ostensibly crushed. This led to assassination of Gandhi by her most trusted Sikh bodyguards right in the prime minister’s official residence.
With the same holy city now up in arms for a separate homeland was anything but an appropriate venue for the conference. In spite of the tight security, a couple of hundreds of Sikhs managed to demonstrate at the venue to demand Khalistan.
The most interesting part of the Conference was that India’s pettiness as a nation-state, notwithstanding its size, was on full display.
The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was established to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly encouraging security, political, and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbors. This region-led dialogue was launched in November 2011 to expand practical coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in facing common threats, including counterterrorism, counter-narcotic, poverty, and extremism. The United States and over 20 other nations and organizations serve as “supporting nations” to the process.
The platform of the Conference was used by India, not to garner support for Afghanistan but for Pakistan-bashing and humiliating Pakistani delegation. This was in line with Modi’s foreign policy doctrine of isolating Pakistan. In Pakistan-bashing, Afghanistan’s puppet president, Ashraf Ghani only played second fiddle to Indian premier Narendra Modi. While India repeated its mantra of “Pakistan-based” terror outfits like JeM and LeT, Ghani lamented existence of Haqqani Network in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
While the Conference was allowed to detract, Pakistan was sitting mum and not reminding the participants that Pakistan, and not India, was a major victims of terrorism with terror outfits operating from safe havens in Afghanistan adequately sponsored, sheltered, funded and armed by NDS-RAW, Joint Venture. Pakistan even failed to mention the network operated in Pakistan by a serving commander of Indian Navy seconded to RAW, Kulbhushan Yadav, caught red-handed.
It should be kept in mind that in all countries, and more specifically, functional democracies, foreign policies with regard to countries perceived as arch-rivals or enemies, are based on the input received from the security establishment. It seems that Pakistan just jumped into the arena of 6th Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar without adequate preparation and with a meek posture. It clearly went to face embarrassment without having a brief from security agencies. The outcome is obvious.
The way prime minister of Pakistan’s foreign affairs’ adviser, Sartaj Aziz, allowed himself to be treated shows as if our political establishment wanted to embrace this national humiliation to strengthen India’s aggressive posture assumed by Narendra Modi.