Op-ed by Saira Bano in The Diplomat on India's policy towards Pakistan

July 19, 2015 | The Diplomat

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has yet to craft a coherent policy on Pakistan. He was outspoken in criticizing the government of his predecessor Manmohan Singh for being soft on Pakistan, but tempered his rhetoric after coming to power, inviting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration ceremony, before using a pretext to cancel talks. Recognizing that disengagement with Pakistan creates more problems for India, Modi allowed a resumption of talks at the secretary level in March 2015. Modi and Sharif themselves met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Russia on July 10, 2015. Modi is opening talks at a time when the Sharif government is weak and the balance of power has decisively tilted in favor of the Pakistani military establishment.

Nawaz Sharif went to Modi's inauguration ceremony despite resistance from Pakistan's powerful army and refused to meet Hurriyat leaders. Instead of capitalizing on this gesture, Modi cancelled secretary-level talks with Islamabad on the grounds that the Pakistani ambassador to India had continued with the longstanding practice of meeting with Kashmiri separatists. This weakened Nawaz's ability to improve relations with India. Increased tensions at the Line of Control and Kashmir, in which Modi responded to cease-fire violations in a way that went beyond tit-for-tat worsened the situation.

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