Home » Episode 11th January 2013

World View: Is the India-Pak LoC ceasefire in danger?

Hello and welcome to the special edition of World View, coming to you from Islamabad, Pakistan. At a time when tension between India and Pakistan are high, I will be joined on the show by Muhammad Malik. Thank you so much for joining us. He is a senior journalist, leading anchor and a columnist, here in Pakistan. Also ahead we will that exclusive interview with Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar as we discuss the angle over the LoC incident and where the bi-lateral ties are headed next. Later on the show we will discuss where Pakistan is headed in this year of transition. We have an excerpt of interview with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, PTI chief Imran Khan and the man now threatening Islamabad with a long march on January 14 - Tahir-ul-Quadri. But first, India expressing anguish and outrage over the killing to two jawans in the Mender sector near the LoC.

Pakistani soldiers entered Indian post and beheaded them, mutilating their bodies after. Pakistan denied those allegations and made some of its own. And even as firing continued through the week at the LoC, Pakistan and India called in each others' envoy to protest killing on both sides.

On our big question we ask - Two Indian soldiers killed brutally at the LoC, is ceasefire itself is in danger?
In a World View exclusive Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar spoke about Pakistan's position. I also asked her about where Pakistan's promises on the 26/11 trial and granting MFN status to India are headed.

Hina Rabbani Khar: It is not the government of Pakistan's policy to not observe ceasefire on LoC and not to go through the mechanism that already exists, to normalize relations between two governments. Now, I must say a bit saddened. This is a government that I represent of the Pakistan peoples Party, which has invested four years of building normalcy, an environment of trust, an environment of moving forward to achieve common objectives of regional peace and internal stability within the two countries. Lance Naik Aslam, brutally murdered because of Indian firing ,400 kilometers inside Pakistani territory, we followed the normal course of action and normal mechanism that is in place with DG military operations Pakistan ask for a special call to DG military operations of India and mechanisms which are in place, set in action. You did not see any hostile statement coming in from foreign minister or from any other responsible person. We believe these are issues which must be dealt with in the responsible manner, in a manner which allows us to co-exist peacefully, which is the goal and objective of the government of Pakistan. We are so sure of this, we hope that we can and ask a third party do an investigation on this. You know that UN military observer exists. We can call then in to do an investigation on this. We have already done our investigation...

Suhasini Haidar: You are not promising a full enquiry but you are suggesting...

Hina Rabbani Khar: We have enquired into this and are saying that this incident did not take place.

Suhasini Haidar: Pakistan continue to deny that anything happened. You say enquiries are already over within 24 hours or less. Isn't it a bit insensitive, given that India believes its soldiers were actually mutilated, that once they were beheaded and perhaps had their throat slit as well?

Hina Rabbani Khar: You know this is absolutely unacceptable for allegations like this to be made. As I told you, this is not something in any way a policy we pursue vis a vis with India or with any other country. Now when we say that we have investigated into the matter to see whether any incident like this took place or not? We are sure that an incident like this did not take place. Then we can do ten more investigation in which we can take ten days, if that satisfies any one. But we are offering even more than that. We are saying let's lead UNMO look into this matter and investigate this matter and if an incident like this did take place then we need to deal with it with the existing mechanisms as they exist. And if the mechanisms need to be strengthened, they must be strengthened.

Suhasini Haidar: Two Indian soldiers are dead. We can't get away with that. Our army believe they were killed fairly brutally. Are you suggesting a third force might have been a part of this? For example people in Pakistani uniform carried out this raid because India certainly believes they were Pakistani ...

Hina Rabbani Khar: Since this happened in you territory your army needs to do an investigation on it and find out what really happened. And I think we can do our own investigation, assist each other and find out what really happened.

Suhasini Haidar: the question many are asking, is Pakistan in denial today? One day will say, yes this was in fact a part of the hostility?

Hina Rabbani Khar: you see again I have no answer to this. I am not going to look at the relationship with the lens of history form what happened 20 or 10 years back. I am going to look at it with the lens of what is happening today and I can assure you that, through you and to your people that the government of Pakistan is very very serious in pursuing the track of normalization with relations with India because we feel it is in our benefit. We invest in this relationship because of our own sake rather than yours.

Suhasini Haidar: The question really is how this situation..

Hina Rabbani Khar: Right now we are saying that let a third party come and investigate this matter. And quite frankly speaking we should de-escalate from here. You have seen the behaviour of government of Pakistan. The way we have dealt with the crisis shows that we hold CBMs to be a very important one. We have every intention to honour it, to honour the ceasefire on LoC.

Suhasini Haidar: If I could now turn to the other big issue for India, when it comes to the trust deficit of the 26/11 trail. Are you quite confident of a conviction in that case?

Hina Rabbani Khar: Well I hope that as process is running through, we see an end to that case. I have said this repeatedly that this is as much in our interest as in yours to see a finality on that case because certainly something which has held the peace process, not entirely, but has come into the way of peace process.

Suhasini Haidar: To come back to India's first request is the man that they really believe is the mastermind behind 26/11 attacks, Hafiz Saeed. India has handed yet another file, Ajmal Kasab has been hanged, David Headley has been convicted in the US. What more proof does Pakistan want that has not been sufficient for India or US really for a conviction?

Hina Rabbani Khar: I think it's a one liner, evidence that can hold in the court of law and we are no protector of any such entities. Any evidence that can hold in a court of law will be useful to trail any person and as I said we do not want to come in way of the trail and we want to assist this trail process and I think this has been the government's position has been consistently.

Suhasini Haidar: I ask because in India one sees Hafiz Saeed freely speaking in Pakistan against India. He even lead a rally to the border. What is the message that goes out?

Hina Rabbani Khar: The message is the same that the message from fringe minorities in India who escalate against Pakistan and say all sorts of very very hostile things against Pakistan. Comes to Pakistan for heaven's sake, are we going to allow these fringe minorities these people who have held us back to define the future of two countries or we allow people like you and me, vast majority of Pakistanis and Indians who have been convinced that peace and normalization is the right way to move forward, define the relation between two countries.

Suhasini Haidar: You say you wanted to define it and yet we heard Hafiz Saeed come out with a big rally against MFN status to India?

Hina Rabbani Khar: And what did the government do? The government went right ahead with the trade normalization process and this is why I am proud of representing the government of Pakistan and Pakistan Peoples Party because we have taken political risks to normalize relations with India.

Suhasini Haidar: 2012 is remembered perhaps for the Visa normalization, trade liberalization process, restarting of cricketing ties. But given the start 2013 has had with this sort of horrific incident, what can one expect really?

Hina Rabbani Khar: I think one can expect further normalization on all aspects and then moving in an environment of trust and trying to resolve more important issues between two countries and at least start to trade this path. What I continue to emphasis on is that the press, people, civil society have a huge role to play and we should all try and do whatever we can to keep our eyes on bigger picture and continue to work for the goals and objectives which will bring and peace and stability in the region. The journey that this government has started is going to be continued by whatever government comes in place in Pakistan for sure hope that Indian government will also reciprocate some of those gestures.

Pakistan's foreign minister there Hina Rabbani Khar.

Suhasini Haidar: Malik, we have heard Hina Rabbani Khar making those denials that Pakistan had anything to do with those two brutal killings on the Indian side. The question really is those in India who are even willing to believe Miss Khar's denial are then saying this is simply proof in fact no matter how close these two countries get, no matter where ties between India and Pakistan go, finally army hold the key to derailing the process?

Md Malik: I might sound a bit harsh to defend a particular frame of mind, I think India needs to react more responsibly. There is still confusion there. We heard statement- Pakistan army did that, then statement Came out Pakistan army may have been involved, so now there is confusion. You have setup processes. DGMOs are talking, you have diplomatic channels, I can't this tendency of Indian government to immediately hit the air waves and come up with such definitive statements. On one hand Pakistan is accused of fomenting trouble in Indian Kashmir and then about instigating the local population. Why would Pakistani troops fire on that very population they are suppose to win over?

Suhasini Haidar: Ceasefire violations have happened in the past.744 incidents of firing across in LoC just in 2012.

Md Malik: Violations don't mean Pakisatn initiated them or caused them.

Suhasini Haidar: Alright we can't verify what has happened on the ground. The Indian side will believe the Indian army's position. The question really Malik is the ceasefire itself. India has called the ceasefire the most important CBM. Is that ceasefire itself in danger now?

Md Malik: I think just few days back Pakistan came out with an entirely new doctrine in which army itself has considered and not Islamabad is saying this or civilians is saying, this is army's own internal assessment that India is no longer the biggest threat to Pakistan. It is the internal strife, extremism and Western front. So when the army comes out as a doctrine and scales down animosity with India, it just doesn't make sense that as a policy. It might be an isolated incident. That's my argument- India has to stop reacting like an individual and react like a large state, responsible machinery where you have mechanisms, you have diplomatic mechanism, you have military to military link-ups, DGMOs talk to each other

Suhasini Haidar: But in this particular incident there is more anger in India over the nature of killing?

Md Malik: There is always anger in India, I can't understand your media, I am sorry I am a media guy myself, I think Indian media needs to respond more responsibly. Did you see any such reaction in Pakistan? No, we are treating it like one incursion either way. Investigate it, do it through proper channel and then talk about it.

Suhasini Haidar: That is certainly the view here in Pakistan. We are coming to you in this special edition of World View from Islamabad. When we return we will take a closer look at what's ahead for Pakistan in 2013. Remember this is a big year of change. We also take a look at the big worry for the Pakistani government next week. While relatively unknown man's plan for march to Islamabad.

Welcome back to World View with me Suhasini Haidar. I am joined by Md. Malik, senior journalist over here and what we are seeing here in Islamabad this week is containers cutting off the center of Islamabad. Security forces in hundreds. The government really bracing the followers of a Sufi cleric called Dr. Tahir- ul- Qadri who plans a long march from Lahore to Islamabad January the 14ththreatening to take what he calls a million men and more to sit on protest until the government enacts democratic reforms. What Qadri exact demands from government remain unclear? Many worry appearances backed by military establishment and he is seeking to delay elections due in just a few months. Speaking to us from Lahore where he plans to begin that march to Islamabad, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri denied that he is backed either by the US or by Pakistan's military establishment.

Tahir-ul-Qadri: I think this is the most appropriate time to launch a struggle for democratic reforms which would lead to a free, fair, just honest elections. So there is no point of derailing the democracy. We want to stabilize and strengthen the democracy in its true letter and spirit.

Suhasini Haidar: You had a massive march, one lakh people according to reports. Many say that is not possible without some sort of establishment. Others claim that you are being backed by US. How do you respond to that?

Tahir-ul-Qadri: US has already totally rebutted this thing. No establishments from inside or outside have given their categorical statement. This march is not being backed up by anybody or any government. This is just a march of masses.

Suhasini Haidar: Many outside Pakistan see the Islamic radicalism as the growth of terrorism. Don't you see that religious movement to cause more worries?

Tahir-ul-Qadri: This is not a religious movement. You will not hear a single word of religion in my movement. I categorically deny that this is a religious movement. This is purely massive democratic, constitutional movement just for the betterment of the people who are deprived of their basic rights.

Suhasini Haidar: Malik, when we look at the security in Islamabad for Tahir-ul-Qadri's planned march here and look at the way government is reacting, one has to be surprised. This is a man nobody outside Pakistan has really heard of, yet government seems scared of him. Why is that?

Md Malik: Because there are lots of question mark. Why he has come? He has come in a big way. He is definitely running a very strong financial juggernaut; he is spending crores of rupees on his first rally, bough massive air time in media, print, on ground everything. We are talking seriously multiples of crore of rupees. So there is big question mark. Here is a man who is landed who is talking of disrupting the entire process within weeks. You must remember he did his first massive rally was on 23rd December. There are too many unanswered questions. There is a fair that this guy might be having a support of the establishment. Establishment definition has changed in Pakistan. It's now judiciary and Military. Two important changes are taking place in Pakistan this year. The Chief of Army Staff's second term ends and Chief Justice goes home. Both are iconic figures for different reasons. There is flair in the political circles that they don't want to go home. And it may be an attempt to force a law and order situation, so an army chief intervenes, either it could be to end the march before it reaches Islamabad or in Islamabad when they step in. if this guy creates a constitutional crisis, there is an interim government and if interim government is made to resign or whatever. Then there is a serious constitutional limbo about how to appoint next interim care taker Prime Minister because constitution is silent on it.

Suhasini Haidar: Tell me one thing Mr. Malik as a Pakistani that how important is it that elections happen on time.

Md Malik: Very important. Most important. My biggest cry to Dr. Qadri is that he talks about change and he talks about strengthening democracy. The way the momentum has been generated, the unrealistic timeframes, December 23rd rally, two weeks he wants things changed, which has not changed in sixty years. The beauty of the whole thing is his arguments and what he is saying- he is counting on public discontent on all those issues. But those issues are not new issues. Everybody has been talking about them, media has been talking about them. His timeframe is so unrealistic that it is impossible. His whole strategy is to create an occasion, a confrontation which invokes participation in two stages. First, forces the military hand to intervene and second a judicial interpretation of a new future setup.

Suhasini Haidar: Well something we are watching closely. Of course Tahir-ul-Qadri is seen a moderate. The Bigger worry coming from radical Islamist group likes Hafiz Saeed's group Difa -e-Pakistan. I spoke to two main opposition leaders and asked them about their reported closeness to Difa -e-Pakistan and Hafiz Saeed, the PML-N Nawaz Sharif as well as PTI chief Imran Khan and asked them- does India need to worry in they come to power?

Nawaz Sharif: we will pick up the threads from where we left. We will put the country back on track, reach out to India, and sit down together in the same manner as we sat down in 1999.

Imran Khan: Thareek-e-Insaaf is a party for peace. We do not believe in militancy, we do not believe in military action. We believe in peace with India, we believe in new relationship with India, we believe in new relationship with US. Here is a party wants completely different Pakistan which we call Naya Pakistan.

Suhasini Haidar: Malik, the PPP advantage over both Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif, as far as international community is concerned and obviously Indian communities are concerned, PPP doesn't align with forces like Hafiz Saeed, with the Difa-e-Pakistan. Will it matter who comes to power next, when it comes to radical parties?

Md Malik: It will matter a lot. I think this is very significant- this army's new declared doctrine of treating internal strife, extremism as the biggest threat to Pakistan. I think that is big shift. But it was an undeclared part of policy to have a certain soft corner for certain set of people. I think that is a massive shift and that realization have come in.

Suhasini Haidar: we have seen with Malala and the kind of outcry over Malala. Is that a sign that things have changed? In India one always asks what will take for Pakistanis to understand that radicalization that threatens Indians also threatens and kills Pakistanis.

Md Malik: The thing that has happened in particular has arise. Chicken always come home to roost.They never though it is going to happen. It first happened in Afghanistan and all the groups they raised, whether they were India specific, Afghanistan specific or even if they were not raised directly supported or looked other way, I think the realization is there that you can't look other way because whichever way you look they all around us. That's why the next government is very important. It will have to be led by a party, lead by a leader who is clear that there has to be zero tolerance for these groups. There cannot be any room for non-state actors, if state has to survive especially state of Pakistan. And that's why I think this election is critically important for Pakistan.

All right Md. Malik. Thanks for speaking with us on World View. And that's all we have time for on World View. Remember 2013 is a big year of changes for Pakistan. Not only elections are due, terms of army chief Kayani, Chief Justice Choudhary as well President Zardari all due to expire. What that mean for India with the brutal beginning of 2013 be a precursor of more to follow or will the peace process stay its course. We will track that for you here on World View. From the team in Islamabad, thanks for watching.

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