Inherently and axiomatically, diplomacy reflects the officially accredited activities of the diplomats of a sovereign nation, to be treated as ‘equals’, while dealing with other sovereign nations. International diplomacy recognizes open-ended activities, with designated officials enjoying mutually accepted ‘diplomatic immunity’, unlike secret services and their agents, who operate clandestinely under diplomatic passports. Hence the ‘foreign services’ of every sovereign country carry a tinge of aura and awe. However, there also exists in the contemporary world a ‘back channel diplomacy’, the most famous proponent and successful practitioner of which was the American ‘super sleuth diplomat’, Henry Kissinger, whose nocturnal and surreptitious ‘diplomatic activities’ through Pakistan brought the mutually inimical Chinese and Americans on the same diplomatic high table, thereby marking the beginning of pathbreaking bilateral relations in the early 1970s.
Understandably, Kissinger’s pioneering activities and success came as a tonic to the protagonists of ‘track-II’ diplomacy, which India has so enthusiastically embraced during the last several years to reach a diplomatic consensus with Pakistan. It soon became apparent that although ‘unofficially accredited’, owing to the inherent faith and confidence reposed in them by the powers-that-be, some of the retired/former diplomats have started enjoying ‘extra- special’ power. They projected themselves as ‘super diplomats’ and started a sustained campaign for ‘imminent peace with the neighbour’, thereby spreading the wrong idea that they are the closest possible confidantes of the ruling government in trying to resolve the Indo-Pak dispute surrounding Jammu and Kashmir. They assumed undefined roles with additional power and responsibility, thereby completely sidelining their former colleagues who were now the serving-line officers, to achieve ‘extra-jurisdictional, extra-territorial, extra-legal or extra-curricular missions’. As mentioned earlier, Henry Kissinger was their avowed idol whom they wanted to emulate, though in vain.
With the best of intentions perhaps, the cue from the American formula was picked up by the nostalgic ‘underprivileged child of Partition’, the prime minister of India, and carried to dizzying heights when his trusted and hand-picked track-II diplomats virtually eclipsed the established system, headed by serving foreign office mandarins, through a process of ‘direct reporting’ to the head of the Indian government. Seeds of ‘hope for peace’ were sown through highly secretive ‘unofficial/personal back channel’ discourse, in the guise of official diplomatic discussions between Delhi and Islamabad.
The track-II specialists were on their ‘final mission’, as late as mid-May 2014, to pursue their clandestine diplomacy by trying to manipulate the incoming prime minister, Narendra Modi. Unfortunately, however, Modi did not have the clandestine diplomacy pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir and the line of control in mind while seeking votes from the people of India. Breaking all traditions, by refusing to play ball vis-à-vis the unwritten but accepted code of election conduct and play a supremely divisive role by harping on the fear psychosis pertaining to the historical faultlines of religion, caste, language and ethnicity, Modi gave a clarion call of development for all. This earned him spectacular and unprecedented dividends. With the unsolicited advice to convert the LoC into an international border, the ‘peaceniks’ from a bygone era made a last-ditch attempt to capture the imagination of the “outsider”, Modi, to cling on to their diplomatic privileges and remain relevant in the charmed circuit of Lutyens’s Delhi. With predictions of fresh turbulence and efforts at destabilization by those who were, and are, constantly referring back to the “disastrous days” of rule by the ‘Hindu Nationalist Party’, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the job at hand for the new prime minister is daunting. The real challenge is yet to come.
However, what now, in retrospective, seems to be a shocking revelation is the lamentable lack of knowledge displayed by the high and mighty of the track II, perhaps owing to their enthusiasm to play to the tune of “aman ki asha” (hope for peace) to get a place in history books. In the process, it appears that they either forgot, or deliberately ignored, certain fundamental stuff, which takes the nation’s interests forward. They simply ignored the Constitution of India (1950) as well as the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (of 1939 and 1957), thereby bypassing the magna carta of the country.
There exists a constitution of Jammu and Kashmir that was approved and adopted on November 17, 1956 and came into effect on January 26, 1957. For the information of all those actors who have been trying to go that extra mile to embarrass the government of India under the ruse of “independence”, “azadi”, “Indian imperialism”, “Islam in danger in India”, “unity with Pakistan” and other catchy slogans, one can present Section 3 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 1957: “The State of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India”. Section 4 further stipulates, “The territory of the State shall comprise all the territories which on the 15th day of August, 1947, were under the sovereignty or suzerainty of the Ruler of the State” thereby explicitly implying the illegal, illegitimate and mala fide act of occupation of the northern territories like Hunza or Gilgit by Pakistan.
The real bombshell for Pakistan, however, is Section 48: “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 47” — which defines composition of the legislative assembly — “until the area of the State under the occupations of Pakistan ceases to be so occupied and the people residing in that area elect their representatives (a) twenty-four seats in the Legislative Assembly shall remain vacant and shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total member-ship of the Assembly; and (b) the said area shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial Constituencies Under Section 47.”
And how does the preamble to the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir read? “We, the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, having solemnly resolved, in the pursuance of the accession of this State to India which took place on the twenty sixth day of October, 1947, to further define the existing relationship of the State with the Union of India as an integral part thereof, and to secure to ourselves — Justice... Liberty... Equality... Fraternity... and the unity of the Nation”. The Jammu and Kashmir constitution is a written document containing 158 sections and seven schedules, and the legislature of Jammu and Kashmir is debarred from considering any amendment to the constitution that may affect the state’s accession to India.
Being one of the 29 states of the Union of India, the Pakistani envoy’s current rendezvous with some of the separatists in New Delhi is nothing short of brazen meddling in India’s internal affairs. It is also surprising that our learned track II actors have failed to take note of the law of the land and point it out to the Indian rulers of the day for the past several years. Seen in this light, can one criticize the action of the present government in cancelling the Indo-Pak talks? The law says New Delhi is right. However, there also exists Indian emotion without Chinese erudition.