Tension with India and political instability mark Pak's 2017

Islamabad
24 Dec 2017

India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in 2017 with no bilateral talks talking place and both sides putting it on the back-burner even as the political situation in the country remained fragile with the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers scandal. The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India's surgical strikes inside PoK. The sentencing of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death in April further deteriorated ties. Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal claimed that Pakistan is all for resumption of dialogue but India has been running away on one pretext or another. "Indian stubbornness is the main reason that we are unable to resume talks. The fault is with India and not with us. We are ready to talk about everything, but they don't come forward and only hurl allegations," Faisal told PTI. The ties strained further after Pakistan Army special forces team sneaked 250 metres across the Line of Control and beheaded two Indian security personnel in May.
In response, the Indian Army launched "punitive fire assaults" on Pakistani positions across the Line of Control, inflicting "some damage". Faisal said Pakistan cannot be blamed for "zero" progress in the bilateral ties in 2017, as it made persistent efforts to improve relations. "First, India linked talks with the issue of militancy but when we showed readiness to discuss every issue, including terrorism, then they (India) ran away. Actually, Indian side is not ready to sit across the table," he alleged. He said Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in a letter to his Indian counterpart urged India to maintain peace on the LoC after over 1,300 ceasefire violations killed 54 civilians this year. Throughout the year, Pakistan repeatedly summoned Indian diplomats to the Foreign Office to register its protests on the ceasefire violations. The spokesman was not very optimistic for talks in the 2018 and said that there was no hope for peace with the current government in India.
"The same trend may continue in 2018. Nothing is changing on ground," he said. The two countries also engaged in war or words in the United Nations and the Human Rights Council, wherein India called Pakistan the "face of international terrorism". In April, India reacted strongly when a Pakistan Army court sentenced Kulbhushan Jadhav to death on charges of espionage after a secret trial. India demanded consular access to Jadhav, which Pakistan repeatedly denied claiming the man was an Indian spy. India took the case to the International Court of Justice, which put a hold on Jadhav's execution. During the year, Pakistan also witnessed one of its worst political crisis when the Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Sharif and put him on trial for corruption.
Sharif nominated his close aide and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister. With his ouster, Sharif became the first prime minister in the politically unstable Pakistan to quit in the middle of his term for a record third time. The year will also be remembered for the deaths of hundreds of people in several terror attacks in all provincial capitals - Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta. Several other cities were also targeted by terrorists, including those from the Islamic State.
Pakistan this year also test-fired its first Submarine- Launched Cruise Missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 450 kms and the radar-evading surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 2,200 kms, bringing many Indian cities within its range. This year, career diplomat Tehmina Janjua became Pakistan's first-ever woman Foreign Secretary, replacing Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry who was appointed as ambassador to the US. Her elevation to the top bureaucratic slot prompted Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit to quit as the senior diplomat ostensibly was not ready to work under his junior. (PTI)