‘Uf yoo ma’ at Ufa

Remember that song with the nonsensical lyrics — “Uf yoo ma” in that Dev Anand-Asha Parekh starrer of yore, Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai? These words meant nothing but denoted joyous and uplifted spirits! In the Russian town of Ufa, the site of the SCO summit, where Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met this morning at the former’s express invitation, there may be reason to break out into song after all. It is a bit of a dam burst of relief after a year of frustrations building-up on both sides. The optimism is not so much because of the practical “steps” sketched in the joint statement, namely, talks in Delhi between the two NSAs on terrorism, “early meetings” of the paramiliary chiefs followed by that of their respective DGMOs (Directors-General, Mil Ops), release of fisherfolk, facilitation of religious tourism, and expediting of the Mumbai blast case and conveying of (Lakhvi’s) voice samples. Rather, it is the last line in the statement — Modi’s ready acceptance of the Pak PM’s invitation to attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad next year. This is a big thing because Modi has not only agreed to resume a dialogue but agreed to visit Pakistan — a totally unexpected decision considering how vehemently he campaigned in the 2014 general elections about the futility of talks with Pakistan when Pak-branded terrorists are creating mayhem in Kashmir. The most important aspect of this is that it will elevate Mian Sharif politically and strengthen his hold on government. Because such an invitation couldn’t have been a spur-of-the moment thing but a calculated move that had the Pak Army’s blessings to see how Modi would react, the onus is on Islamabad to ensure Modi’s visit goes off spectacularly well because that will decide how quickly the normalization of relations will happen. GHQ Rawalpindi’s assent means the Pakistan Army will not want to spoil the situation leading up to that Islamabad meeting at a time when its own fighting resources are stretched between the FATA/Afghan border, the Iranian Front with Jundullah stirring up a heap of trouble, and the live border in the east on the LOC, and is seeking some lessening of military pressure from the Indian side. Gen Ruheel Sharif, moreover, like his predecessor Gen Aftab Kayani, has repeatedly said the principal threat to Pakistan is Islamic extremism, not India. A longish spell without deliberately-planned hostile actions on the border will both be a respite from the usual carryings-on and could lead to more months, then years, then decades (??!!) w/o incidents of stray violence with the potential for conflagration, and peace will become the order of the day. And that is when the resolution by negotiation of all outstanding disputes that have vexed bilateral relations will at once become easier and be conducted w/o rancor. This is precisely the sort of denouement Modi would wish for in order to implement his grand vision of the subcontinental states in warm but loose embrace, orientating outwards — rather than as in the past, inwards and being at each other’s throats. Should things work out, what’s being talked about in the SCO — of a free trade area and economic union, could be emulated here in South Asia with India at the centre, its economy driving prosperity in the adjoining countries, especially Pakistan. That Modi also met with the Afghan President Abdul Ghani is also significant, notwithstanding New Delhi’s being frozen out of the various fora for consolidating peace and order in Afghanistan. His previous visits to the Central Asian Republics — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan on this extended trip could naturally lead to connecting SAARC more intimately with Central Asia and with SCO as another order of business starting with in the realms of economic activity. All this augurs well. Keep your fingers crossed!

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Asian geopolitics, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Central Asia, China, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Army, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Maldives, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Russia, society, South Asia, Sri Lanka. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to ‘Uf yoo ma’ at Ufa

  1. Rahul says:

    No sir, 12 hours before the meeting, violation of ceasefire from Pakistani side(naturally with Pakistani Army blessings) caused death of a BSF soldier….As per statements from BSF, counter fire did inflict some casualties on the enemy side also….So I am not keeping my fingers crossed….

  2. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    Perhaps we give too much space to Pakis in our thoughts. Agreed Pakis are a source of terrorism on us but that is nothing unique for our history.

    Perhaps we should be devoting more time to getting our overall act together such that Pakis become as useless as a Pissu.

    JMT

  3. Shekhar says:

    Analysis is absolutely outstanding as always

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