A group of former senior military and civil services officers has asked the government to cancel the proposed talks between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in New York next month in view of unabated Pakistan-inspired terrorism against this country.
"At a time when Pakistan is day in and day out using terrorism against us, it would be ill-advised for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to meet with Nawaz Sharif as it would signal that relations between the two countries are in a business-as-usual mode," they said at a press conference in New Delhi.
"We, therefore, strongly recommend that we do not rush into a dialogue with Pakistan, and the proposed meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries be cancelled," they said while releasing a joint statement.
The press conference was attended by senior retired officials including former IB Chief Ajit Doval, former Army Chief Gen N C Vij, former ambassador G Parthasarathy and former Deputy NSA Satish Chandra.
Talks are proposed between Singh and Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in the last week of September.
"The policy of appeasement has failed; a new bipartisan policy is needed which will imposes costs on Pakistan for terrorism," said Chandra.
He said imposing costs will deter Pakistan. "There is no need to be afraid of nuclear blackmail, India is a nuclear power too."
The strategic community members said for a long time, "India has meekly put up with Pakistan-inspired terrorism and our citizens across the country have paid a terrible price. This has only encouraged Pakistan in its pursuit of such policies."
The statement comes amid nationwide outrage over the killing of five Indian soldiers who were ambushed by specialist troops of Pakistan Army along the Line of Control in Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.
"It is unfortunate that we have learnt nothing from this and have gone to make compromise after compromise with Pakistan simply to keep some kind of engagement going. Such a policy of appeasement has manifestly failed to deliver results -- as indeed all appeasement must fail," the experts said.
Former Army Chief Gen Vij said a low level war on LoC is a ‘purposeful Pakistani strategy’ that can be sustained indefinitely.
"Pakistan is a rational actor; they will not risk nuclear escalation. This nuclear bluff should be called by India. The answer is for India to raise the stakes," he said.
Parthasarathy, former High Commissioner to Pakistan, said Indo-Pak talks at the bureaucratic and military levels could continue but India needs to think hard how to challenge Pakistan’s strategy.
"Eating kebabs and biryani and listening to music is fine but India needs hard headed thinking about how to challenge Pakistani strategy of stoking internal tension in India," he said.
The members of the group also demanded that Siachen be taken out of the basket of issues to be discussed with Pakistan as and when a dialogue is resumed, in view of the evolution of the ground situation in the area.
They said the Pakistan establishment has quite evidently concluded that India does not expect firm action against those perpetrating terrorism from its soil and that terrorism and dialogue can go hand in hand.
"The government would be well advised not to rush into a dialogue with Pakistan on the assumption that Sharif, is ostensibly committed to improving ties with India. Good intentions are not sufficient to create conditions for productive negotiations," they said.