Why this 'blame game'? Back   Home  
Even though President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee are not to meet in New York next month, the good news is that the two are almost certain to do so in Pakistan before the year is out. The date and venue of the summit meeting have not been fixed yet. But, according to the Indian prime minister, the two sides have already worked out the contours of the agenda for the summit. In Washington, Foreign Secretary Inamul Haq also said that a framework for the talks had been agreed upon. Pakistan and India now seem wiser, for the two had rushed to Agra without any preparatory work. One, thus, hopes that the next summit would produce results instead of the fiasco that Agra turned out to be.

There is now a need for an end to the polemics that have characterized the post-Agra scenario. Even though both President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee have called the Agra summit a success and pledged to continue the dialogue, there have also been pointless recriminations. As Pakistan's foreign secretary put it in Washington, "The blame game has to be brought to an end." In this respect, one notes with regret that the Indian side has done nothing to restrain itself and has missed no opportunity to make accusations and insinuations. In fact, the Indian side has chosen to focus on the person of Gen. Musharraf. Even the Indian prime minister himself has not been averse to picking on the president and blaming him for the failure to agree on a joint declaration at Agra.

In Mr Vajpayee's speech to parliament on India's independence day, he also referred to his karma to host the Chief Executive and spoke of the tilak that is applied even to a stone. Was this all necessary? Since he was the host - because he had invited Gen. Musharraf - he should have chosen to remain a gracious one instead of talking about the spirit and quality of his hospitality in the manner he did. Earlier also, he had tried to slight Gen. Musharraf by saying he knew nothing of diplomacy and history. Not many perceptive Indian observers present at Agra will agree with this squeamish assessment. If Mr Vajpayee had chosen to deal with a general he should have known who he was talking to and what to expect from him. In contrast to the Indian behaviour, Pakistan, on the whole, has maintained a very dignified posture. Gen. Musharraf never stooped so low as to attack Mr Vajpayee personally. On the other hand, immediately on returning home he had kind words to say about the Indian prime minister.

One does not know precisely how far away the next summit is. But if it is to be held this year, then one hopes it will materialize before Ramazan, which begins in mid-November. There are, thus, two months left in which to create a congenial atmosphere for the talks. One hopes both sides will exercise maximum restraint so as not to vitiate the pre-summit atmosphere. The talks process must continue, for a negotiated settlement of all disputes, including the core issue of Kashmir, is in the interest of both Pakistan and India.

This article is a modified version of an article published in Dawn of Pakistan. I too felt some of recent remarks by Vajpayee about Musharraf very low. Though it does'nt mean what Musharraf did at Agra is wise.