The Hindu – Nawaz Sharif ouster: A blow to India-Pakistan dialogue process

India must brace for a spell of instability in Pakistan

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi, 28 July 2017. Diplomats and experts on Friday said the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was a setback to the process of dialogue with India and the internal democracy of Pakistan. Speaking to The Hindu former diplomats said that India would have to be ready for a spell of instability in Pakistan following the sudden changes.

“Out of all the prime ministers of Pakistan since 1947, Nawaz Sharif is the only one who has held the largest number of meetings, nearly 15 to 20, with Indian prime ministers, mostly in third countries.

It is another matter that he has not travelled to India very often, but he did travel once during Rajiv Gandhi’s funeral in 1991 and then during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

His departure amounts to the removal of a partner in dialogue with a country which has been India’s main concern,” said Satinder K Lambah, former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr Lambah expressed concern over the possible instability in Pakistan over the next few months.

“This is a major setback to the process of democracy in Pakistan. It is unfortunate that not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan’s history has completed a full term and that has been proved with the resignation of Nawaz Sharif,” said TCA Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan.

India-Pakistan ties are at present stuck over the disturbances in Kashmir and cross-border terrorism from Pakistan targeting India. Pakistan on the other hand has been accusing India of fomenting trouble in the restive province of Balochistan.

Diplomats and experts said the biggest loss, however, would be internal to Pakistan where a pro-peace lobby was emerging.

Experts said that it is unlikely however, that Mr. Sharif’s exit will have any impact on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case or the Kashmir issue. “As of now there is very little bilateral contact so there is unlikely to be any major impact on critical bilateral issues,” Mr. Lambah said.

Pakistan is likely to go for an election early next year when a new prime minister will be elected. The next prime minister likely to be elected shortly will have a brief stint.

“A lot in India-Pakistan ties will depend on how the transition to the next caretaker prime minister will be undertaken,” said strategic affairs commentator Uday Bhaskar, who pointed out the irony that Mr Sharif began his political career as a creature of the military establishment.

“He emerged as the favourite of the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, but finally had to fight them during the Pervez Musharraf era starting in 1999,” Mr. Bhaskar said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/blow-to-dialogue-process/article19380375.ece?homepage=true

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