Mahmud Durrani's article 'India-Pakistan: stop the '56-inch chest'; give peace a chance' is disappointing. Its analysis of the causes of the present state of India-Pakistan relations is misleading and its prescriptions for improving them are naive.
It is especially disturbing when a distinguished former national security advisor and army general, who has been an advocate of Indo-Pak peace practices 'suppressio veri, suggestio falsi' (suppression of the truth is to suggest of what is false).
No impartial observer of Pakistan has accepted that its establishment has broken its links with all terrorist groups.
While the army is taking on those groups that have turned against the state, it is allowing full freedom to others such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), who are targeting India to operate: recruit and train, collect funds, hold public meetings, propagate jihad and send terrorists across the border. There is no seriousness being shown in pursuing the case against the accused of 26/11 to its logical conclusion.
To assert that the Pakistani army has no sympathy for any terrorist group flies in the face of facts. Worse, it seeks to obfuscate the army's security doctrine because the use of sub-conventional war is its integral part.
So long as this doctrine continues, Pakistan will remain a breeding ground for international terrorism and its establishment will be an accomplice.
To wish the dialogue process to become 'regular and routine' is to desire that India should uncomplainingly continue to remain at the receiving end of terrorist attacks as and when Pakistan wishes to undertake them.
Sadly, what has become routine is that by renewing talks after a hiatus following a particularly vicious attack, successive Indian governments have indicated a lack of seriousness on cross-border terror.
It is not clear as yet if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going the way of his predecessors. However, whenever there is an indication that he will not, the Pakistani establishment gets deeply concerned and out comes the warning of 'physical confrontation'.
Pakistan's and, for that matter, the international community's major concern is that India will launch a punitive strike against targets in that country or POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir), in response to a cross-border terrorist attack. It is, by now, a standard Pakistani tactic to raise the spectre of nuclear war whenever there is a danger of a strong Indian reaction.
Reacting to Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's unnecessarily exuberant, though indirect, warning, General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf warned that Pakistan's nuclear assets were not for 'shab-e-baarat'.
Mercifully, a 'bloody nose' after a 'short war' warning does not invoke the strategic arsenal threat. What it overlooks, though, is that were India to act, it would be reactive, not proactive.
If Pakistan controls the jihadi groups in its territory - and it certainly can - the need for a robust reaction would not arise. Further, even if Pakistan were to take serious judicial action in the case of the 26/11 accused, Indian public opinion would be assuaged. However, the bail granted to Zaki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi has foreclosed that option.
A traditional Pakistani demand is that India should act as a 'big brother' and talk, instead of warning, as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar did, that the sponsorship of terror is a game that two can play. Can a big brother constantly overlook the younger sibling's sustained hostility and violence?
The advocates of routine and uninterrupted engagement between the two countries, both in India and Pakistan, overlook that it cannot be an end in itself. For Pakistan, the purpose of India-Pakistan talks is only to resolve outstanding issues, especially J&K or those related to it, such as Siachen and Tulbul Navigation Project.
A new one has now been added - water. The fact that the water issue was settled by Indian generosity, which resulted in the Indus Waters Treaty of 1961, is being virtually denied. As long as this obsession with J&K and confrontation continues in Rawalpindi, the generals who control the country's India policy will not allow cooperative mechanisms to be put in place or function in a sustained way between the two countries. The example of trade is a case in point.
The real issue is Pakistan's negative approaches towards India and a singular lack of desire to navigate through bilateral difficulties to build a cooperative relationship. Neither phone calls, though Modi made one two days ago, nor parliamentary delegations, nor visa relaxations will contribute to finding a path to stable and positive ties.
Parliamentary delegations, in any event, are meaningless, for India policy is made in Rawalpindi and not in Islamabad. People-to-people contact promotion is good in itself, but will not address the real issues. It is to these that those who want the normalisation of India-Pakistan ties should focus attention.
One last point: a senior Afghan diplomat once asked me, "Why is it that Pakistan has named its missiles after Central Asian or Afghan invaders of the Indian sub-continent?"
He added, "No other country glorifies those who had conquered it." Perhaps as Pakistan has taken offence to Modi invoking the memory of 1971. General Durrani may care to answer that query.