Haven’t the spymasters of India and Pakistan ever met? They probably would have. Did their meeting(s) make a difference to India-Pakistan relationship? Not at all. Will another meeting of the spymasters in 2012 make a big difference to the bilateral ties? Highly unlikely. But, is there anything wrong if they meet again? Not really.
Of course, all channels of communication between India and Pakistan can always be only very useful. But lack of communication channels between the two countries is not the problem today. There are already channels between the two home ministries (in which the IB chiefs sit in), between BSF and the Rangers and the two DGMOs.
But the problem is that the dialogue is stagnating. Given the fluidity in the political situation in both countries, these are times when major initiatives are difficult to push through. (Although, normalisation of India-Pakistan relations is a ‘popular’ thing to happen and there could even be electoral dividends in 2014.)
On the Indian side, our intelligence chief reports to the prime minister. But then, the special envoy also reports to the PM and it isn’t that the PM is lacking in inputs regarding Pakistan. There is also a ‘back channel’ for PM to communicate to the ‘powers that be’ in Islamabad. The only ‘additionality’ in the new proposal is that Pakistan’s ISI chief also reports to the army chief in Rawalpindi.
That is to say, via the ISI chief (who will presumably whisper to his Indian counterpart when they meet in Geneva or Reykjavik), the Pakistani army chief could have a channel of communication open to our PM directly without the elected leadership in Pakistan being necessarily in the loop. Now, is that a good thing to happen? That is the question. An institutionalised intercourse between the spymasters of Pakistan and India becomes necessary once civilian supremacy is firmly established in Pakistan.
Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.
– August 13, 2012