Churn in Pak, local pressure behind India’s tough stand

FP

In fact, Khurshid reflected this line while speaking to reporters in Bhutan right after the Army Chief's pre-Army Day press interaction in Delhi. Khurshid said "enormous investment" had been made in the peace process and this incident should not affect it. However, the final assessment of the CCS was quite different.

There was no call or decision to step back from the peace process, but an endorsement of the view that not much was at stake in the process for the moment given the lull due to the approaching elections in Pakistan. And, perhaps, it was important for New Delhi too to give priority to the domestic repercussions of the LoC incident. In short, it was felt that this was not the time take a political risk over a peace process in which the Pakistani Army's own commitment was questionable.

This, sources said, was borne out of the assessment that the Pakistani Army was indeed shifting gears in the domestic political arena and its assertiveness on the LoC should also be read in that context.

It was felt that the Pakistani Army was making certain political moves like the tacit backing of cleric Tahir ul Qadri, who could not have held a rally of 50,000-odd people without the Army's nod, while making it more difficult for other political parties. This is complicated by the uncertainty over Pakistani Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's own plans as he nears retirement in September.

In this context, doubts were raised over whether the increased violence levels on the LoC had anything to do with the Pakistani Army's domestic political moves. This logic was further buttressed by the tough stand that Pakistan took at the local commanders' meeting in the afternoon, denying every bit that India said.

While taking into account the stakes involved in the ongoing peace process, sources said, the CCS was concerned by the fact that the civilian government in Pakistan, which has been the most enthusiastic in pushing forward the process, was quite satisfied playing second fiddle to the Army on the issue of violence along the LoC.

... contd.

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