While President Zardari has made a wise decision not to unilaterally pull troops out of Siachen, his suggestion that the Head Sulemanki border will be made operational for trade with India is quite worrisome. Antics of the sort are no different from the usual way the PPP government has been bending over backwards to placate the Indians to the detriment of our national interests. As is the constant refrain of Prime Minister Gilani, there is hardly any doubt that being a democratically-elected President, he has all the right in the world to share his opinions with the people. However on a highly contentious issue such as extending a hand of friendship to India without resolution of outstanding disputes or starting trade with it, he had better call to mind the prevailing state of animosity our eastern neighbour harbours against us.

Of this belligerence, the ongoing machinations in Balochistan, RAW’s political entrenchment in Kabul to harm Pakistan, frequent unprovoked firing along the LoC, water theft not to mention its diplomatic offensive on the international stage to defame Islamabad as a state sponsor of terrorism are few instances. Until and unless the Kashmir issue is resolved in line with the wishes of the people, there can be no peace between the two nuclear armed neighbours. And no matter how much the PPP government might try to forge better ties with it and no matter how many favours are dished out, India would continue to maintain the status quo given its track record. It was surprising to hear the President remark that the government would not shy away from discussing various disputes with India. The fact is that during the past four years of its rule, the federal setup has shown an acute lack of interest in straightforwardly discussing the core dispute with India. Several rounds of bilateral meetings revolving around the so-called composite dialogue were simply wasted in photo ops, handshakes amid servile posturing of our leadership before the Indians acknowledging that terrorism was in fact the real bane of South Asia. On the other hand, fallout of this subservience is that New Delhi is repeating its ‘integral part’ mantra with all the more vigour. And the hope if ever there was any of the conflict’s amicable settlement has further receded into oblivion.

There have also been reports that so far as trade is concerned, a certain lobby with its vested interests is pushing the government, something that also accounts for grant of the MFN status. There is a grave misgiving that such a course will harm the country’s economy. For instance, in the long term, procurement of food items and electricity import would increase our reliance on India. Already in the twilight of his term the President must avoid a policy that can further weaken the Kashmir cause.