Two sets of differently troubled bi-lateral relationships, namely  that  between  India and Pakistan on one hand  and   the US-Pakistan on the other  were reviewed over the last week  - with  results that may be described as ‘ more of  the  same.’

On July 5 the Foreign  Secretary level talks between India and Pakistan ended inconclusively  in Delhi against the backdrop of fresh revelations about the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack .  The handing over by the Saudi authorities  of  one 26/11  suspect - Abu Jundal (aka Ansari) - an Indian Muslim citizen who was part of the LeT led attack on Mumbai  has provided fresh evidence of  Pakistani complicity .  The cooperation and coordination between India, Saudi Arabia  and the USA in apprehending  a 26/11 suspect from Saudi territory has added to the dismay of Islamabad  but predictably - there was no explicit reference to this matter in the joint statement issued by the two countries after the Foreign Secretary talks.

Concurrently the  severely strained relations between the US  and Pakistan were reset on July 3 with  US Secretary of State   Hilary Clinton stating that she was ‘sorry’  for the death  of  Pakistani soldiers in the November 2011 during a US air strike. The Pakistani government which had sought an ‘apology’  from the US to assuage growing anti American  sentiment  accepted this  olive branch  and agreed to resume the movement of  supply convoys  that had been halted for the last  seven  months.

This compromise was  expected since the  Pentagon  is critically dependent on the  Karachi -  Afghanistan  access to  sustain its logistic supplies for  US troops in the region and  to plan the  re-location   of huge inventory and  heavy equipment in the run-up to the 2014  withdrawal.  It is evident that some hard bargaining was done by both sides and  while Pakistan has not insisted on the higher price per truck, the US has agreed to release to Islamabad direly needed funds that had been put on hold. The opposition and the right-wing parties in Pakistan have threatened to oppose this rapprochement and a major protest march has been planned for July 8.

However this is an uneasy truce  since  the terror issue - or the support to this malignancy that the Pakistan deep-state provides has been left to fester - and this has implications for  Delhi  and the India-Pakistan bi-lateral relationship.   Rawalpindi, the HQ of the Pakistan military has not been persuaded to sever its links with the Haqqani group  in Afghanistan - which is of relevance to the US and the  endorsement of terror units  such as the  LeT and its leader - Hafeez Saeed - whose focus is India. Having compelled the US to ‘blink’ first  on the apology issue,  there appears to be a sense of triumph within the Pakistani deep-state  that  it can continue with this policy of selective support to terror groups and extremist ideologies even while dealing with the sectarian forces that  now challenge the Pakistani state with impunity.

The confluence of certain dates in July over the last four decades  merit recall to place the two bi-lateral relations in perspective. On July 2, 1972 India and Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement and the salient section of the preamble includes the following:  “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations.”

The Simla Agreement remains  the most  magnanimous war termination accord in recent history  but regrettably 40 years later, a  review of the spirit of Simla is disappointing.  Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto reneged on the promises made and  in the years that followed, a deep anti-India orientation became the dominant characteristic of Pakistan.

In keeping with its tumultuous history,  on July 5, 1977   General Zia ul Haq seized power  from  Zulfiqar Bhutto  who  was subsequently  sent to the gallows on July 4, 1979.  The steady  and corrosive  Islamisation  of  Pakistan began under General  Zia and this was compounded by the  Soviet occupation of  Afghanistan in late 1979  which in turn led to the US-Pakistan alliance and the birth of the Kalashnikov wielding, theologically motivated  mujahedin.

The US has made a Faustian bargain with the Pakistan military and notwithstanding the enormity of the Osama bin Laden  episode which demonstrated beyond doubt the duplicity of Rawalpindi apropos terrorism, the US has chosen to accept this contradiction - as it did with the AQ Khan revelations. The fact that Pakistan is in possession of nuclear weapons and that this in turn resulted from extended China-Pakistan  cooperation which the US,  during the Reagan years ignored due to compulsions in Afghanistan at the time is part of the complex history of the Pentagon-Rawalpindi relationship.

The ‘more of the same’ syndrome is evident in the fact that in a US  election year,  the Afghanistan card is back in play and President Obama has little room to make any radical changes in US policy.

For India the  terror supporting strategy of the Pakistani military that was refined during the  Zia years will remain the abiding challenge in the years ahead.  More discerning voices in Pakistan are deeply concerned but helpless to change the orientation of their own guardians and as the Daily Times,  Lahore  noted editorially (July 6):  “The ramifications of Zia’s legacy have proved manifold and insidious. The genie of extremism released from the bottle by him has given birth over time to various jihadi groups operating in Pakistan with impunity, with help from the deep state.”

India has to accept the grim reality that the spirit of Simla  (July 1972)  will remain elusive, while insulating itself from the  distorted malignancy that  General Zia ( July 1977)  has bequeathed to his country.