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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has asked India to take some steps toward improving ties with Pakistan. He said this while he outlined a list of options that Washington has, to twist Islamabad, in light of President Trump’s enunciations about alleged safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan.

Pakistan to engage in assiduous diplomacy and sell its narrative to the world, especially on terrorism, Indian involvement, and Kashmir

Tillerson said that India should obviate reasons which bring instability in Afghanistan. In other words, he admitted that Pakistan rolls out its Afghan policy out of fear of Indian domination. He said: “There are areas where perhaps even India can take some steps of rapprochement on issues with Pakistan to improve the stability within Pakistan and remove some of the reasons why they deal with these unstable elements inside their own country.”

Tillerson made these remarks a day after Trump rather surprisingly made India an important plank of the new South Asia strategy. While hailing the efforts of India in Afghanistan, Trump asked India to “do more”.

Trump said: “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.”

Pakistani envoy did not attend the Aspen Seminar, for he was jeered at in a previous appearance. At a time when the country needs to sell its version, it can ill-afford to miss out on engagement opportunities

The move is set to stoke up regional tensions by all means. Pakistan’s central tenet of the Afghan policy lies in its efforts to forestall Indian hegemony in Kabul which would practically encircle it from the East and the West.

Thus, increasing Indian footprints in Afghanistan will most likely take away incentives, if any for Pakistan to curtail its involvement in Afghanistan. Tillerson said: “India and Pakistan, they have their own issues that they have to continue to work through.”

On a high horse

Tillerson’s suggestions may find little traction in New Delhi. India’s response to laudatory references to it by Trump was one of elation. However, New Delhi was more thrilled by Trump’s censure of Pakistan than his invitation for a greater Indian role.  India was particularly chuffed with Trump’s open references to Pakistan and its alleged support for terrorism in the region. The cornerstone of India’s narrative against Pakistan was echoed by Trump on Tuesday, much to the delight of New Delhi.

Delhi wants Washington to follow up on the tough statements with actions against Pakistan, there is little desire or the need for India to mend fences with Pakistan

India has been imploring the US to talk tough with Pakistan especially in regards to the presence of anti-India elements in that country. India blames the festering Kashmir saga on proxies controlled by Pakistan. Delhi also believes that the Pakistan Army engages in the sub-conventional war to defeat it.

At a time when Delhi wants Washington to follow up on the tough statements with actions against Pakistan, there is little desire or the need for India to mend fences with Pakistan. India has been bolstered by US’ support for its narrative on issues with Pakistan. Lately, the US has brushed aside the Pakistan story and bought that of India. The US maintains the Indian position that the Kashmir dispute has to be resolved bilaterally.

Meek diplomacy by Pakistan

Trump’s references to Pakistan have hardly surprised anyone, for the US top man uttered the long-held notions about Pakistan. If recent events were any guide, then one cannot find anything surprising in the speech. The US designated Salahuddin and the Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist and terrorist organization respectively. This was nothing short of a diplomatic victory for India: the Pakistan narrative was repudiated.

India blames the festering Kashmir saga on proxies controlled by Pakistan. Delhi also believes that the Pakistan Army engages in the sub-conventional war to defeat it

Pakistan despite knowing what was coming did little at the diplomatic level to redress the tilt. In regards India and Kashmir, little efforts were made to broach upon the ongoing events in the Kashmir valley. The Pakistani envoy did not attend the Aspen Seminar, for he was jeered at in a previous appearance. At a time when the country needs to sell its version, it can ill-afford to miss out on engagement opportunities.

Trump has ratified the Indian position vis-a-vis Pakistan; India has little more to do on the diplomatic front. It is upon Pakistan to engage in assiduous diplomacy and sell its narrative to the world, especially on terrorism, Indian involvement, and Kashmir.

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