Peace process will take time to revive

New Delhi:  India is awaiting Pakistan's response to its dossier on the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack. Till the outcome of the inquiry is shared with the Government of India through diplomatic channels, the India-Pakistan peace process remains stuck in a rut. 
In this scenario, Gulf News spoke to an expert on security affairs, Brigadier (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, who is director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, a Delhi-based think tank set up by the Ministry of Defence.
GULF NEWS: How do you view the present scenario between India and Pakistan?
BRIGADIER GURMEET KANWAL: Continued hostility in the past has exacerbated tensions. 
India and Pakistan are conscious that they cannot change their geography. Ultimately, the two countries have to learn to live in peace with each other. Informed opinion is gradually veering around to the view that it is cooperation and dialogue and not confrontation that holds the key to peace and stability in the sub-continent. 
More than two months have passed since the dastardly terror attacks in Mumbai. The public was outraged, but as with other issues, this time too things seem to be simmering. 
The Government of India issued a demarche demanding the extradition of the leadership of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) to India and sought a demonstrable end to terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil. 
This promise had been made in the past by General Pervez Musharraf and President Asif Ali Zardari, but implementation had been only half-hearted. Subsequently, India provided a dossier containing evidence to corroborate the fact that the Mumbai attacks were planned, launched and controlled from Pakistan. 
The Government of Pakistan has not yet reacted. Clearly, Pakistan has to do much more to convince India and the international community that it is implementing effective measures to root out terrorism.
Nothing substantial has come out despite India repeatedly providing proof of terrorist activities on Pakistan soil. 
The Pakistan government's flip-flops and continued denial of Indian charges had led to high-pitched political rhetoric and frenzied media reactions on both the sides and talk of war clouds gathered momentum. 
However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertion, "Nobody wants war and it is in no one's interest. But we want Pakistan to dismantle the terror infrastructure", led to the cooling down of tempers on both the sides. And talks of India exercising a military option receded into the background. 
There is increasing realisation in India that even though Pakistan has much to account for, war is not a viable option as it will further complicate the problem of cross-border terrorism. It will also substantially weaken the fledgling civilian regime in Pakistan while simultaneously strengthening the army's stranglehold over the nation's polity.
What is the way out? 
As it has been stalled for some time now, the India-Pakistan peace process will take some time to revive. Substantial progress had been made in discussing contentious issues like Jammu and Kashmir, the demilitarisation of the Siachen conflict zone and the Sir Creek boundary dispute, among other issues. 
Both the countries need to take the logic of the rapprochement process further. The ball is in Pakistan's court now. Its government must deliver on its promise of ending cross-border terrorism. Once that is seen to happen, India will gladly pick up the pieces. Fortunately, there is realisation on both the sides that there is no alternative to dialogue. 
Don't you think the monster of terrorism is now beyond the control of the Pakistan government?
The Mumbai terror attacks have highlighted that the foremost national security challenge that confronts both India and Pakistan is radical extremism and this rapidly growing monster has to be confronted together both on the operational front and ideologically. 
If the Pakistan Army and the civilian government act in tandem, terrorism can certainly be tamed or at least brought under control within manageable limits. 
However, there are deep divisions within Pakistan. The army has its own agenda, as evidenced by its frequent peace deals with the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the recent past. 
Realisation must dawn on Pakistani decision-makers that fighting the scourge of fundamentalist terrorism is the foremost national security objective and that a concerted civil-military initiative has to be launched to do so successfully.
US President Barack Obama seems set to make Pakistan more accountable in the war on terror. Is the decision to withhold aid to Pakistan for fighting terror meant to penalise the country? 
The new US administration is keen to ensure that military aid is utilised strictly to fight the war against terror and that it is not diverted for bolstering conventional forces, as has been done in the past. 
Allowing Pakistan to purchase F-16 fighters and long-range artillery guns from the funds meant to fight terror is counter-productive in the long term. 
Should India see Obama's initiative as a reason to feel elated? After all, while running for presidentship, he had said that much of the money ostensibly spent on fighting terror had been used to strengthen the Pakistani army to take on India. 
The conventional military balance in the Indian sub-continent is in favour of India, even though India's edge is slender. Any military aid received by Pakistan that allows it the luxury of acquiring conventional hardware despite its failing economy upsets this fine balance and emboldens Pakistan to flex its military muscles. 
In the past, US aid to Pakistan had led to the 1965 war. Any future conflict will have very serious repercussions as it would be fought under the shadow of nuclear weapons. It could spin out of control and result in devastating nuclear exchanges.
Do you feel India needs to do more than launching a global diplomatic campaign to try and bring a defiant Pakistan in line after the Mumbai attacks and its double-talk on terror attacks against India in general?
India has exhibited the utmost restraint under the most trying conditions. However, it cannot go on raising its threshold of tolerance forever. A popularly elected government has to be in sync with public opinion or else it would forsake its credibility and legitimacy. If Pakistan continues to fail to ensure that there are no more attacks on India that are planned and executed from Pakistani soil, in defence to inflamed public opinion, the Government of India will be forced to take offensive military action when the next such attack takes place. It stands to logic that India must take all necessary measures to eliminate the source of terrorism emanating from Pakistan if the Government of Pakistan fails to do so. There is no reason to believe that the international community will not support such action. 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said after the Mumbai attacks that 75 per cent terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom had linkages with terrorist outfits in Pakistan.
India's stance on Kashmir being a closed chapter does not go well with the international community. And the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is considered a 'disputed area'. What should India do?
The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir is legally Indian territory as its ertswhile ruler Maharaja Hari Singh had acceded to India in the terms of the Instrument of Accession. Pakistan is in illegal occupation of 78,000 square kilometres of Indian territory in J&K since 1947-48. 
It had agreed to resolve the issue bilaterally under the Shimla Accord of 1972 after which India had returned over 90,000 prisoners of war to Pakistan. Hence, the resolution of the Kashmir issue is dependent on bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan in accordance with the wishes of the people of J&K. 
The international community has no role to play in its resolution and would do well not to meddle. 
On its part, having once again successfully conducted elections to the J&K Assembly, India must carry forward its dialogue with the people of J&K to find a lasting solution to the long-standing problem.