Accessibility links

India Has Muted Reaction to Pakistan Emergency

India's official reaction to the imposition of emergency rule in neighbor Pakistan, which it has fought three wars with, has been muted and cautious. VOA correspondent Steve Herman in New Delhi explains why.

India is officially expressing regret about the declaration of an emergency in Pakistan and says it hopes that normalcy and stability will soon return there.

The brief statement, seen as cautious and muted, came within hours of General Pervez Musharraf imposing emergency rule in Pakistan.

India, the world's largest democracy, in its official statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, says it trusts Pakistan can soon return to a transition toward democracy.

The director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, retired Indian army major general Dipankar Banerjee, says India will continue to be reticent to avoid becoming part of the political conflict in Pakistan.

"Unless things change substantially and take on a different hue or different forces emerge within Pakistan, India would not like to get involved in any sense within the democratic process within Pakistan," he said.

Opposition parties here were more critical in their reaction. The Bharatiya Janata Party, called on the Indian government to assert pressure on General Musharraf to restore democracy. Leftist parties term the suspension of the constitution in Pakistan a setback for democracy.

Officials say a tour of its chief rival, India, by Pakistan's cricket team, to be held in Guwahati, the capital of the restive state of Assam, is to proceed under intense security. The Pakistani team arrived there Saturday evening.

The two neighbors have fought three wars since Pakistan was carved out of India at the end of the era of British rule. Relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have thawed recently and General Banerjee at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies says India is in no rush to see President Musharraf depart the stage in Pakistan.

"In recent years Musharraf was seen in India as somebody who was constructive on the critical issues between India and Pakistan and especially on Kashmir and therefore somebody that India could do business with," added Banerjee.

Kashmir remains the biggest unresolved issue between the two countries. An extended period of instability in Pakistan would mean little opportunity for progress to be made regarding the protracted territorial dispute.

China, a close ally and major trading partner of Pakistan, through its foreign ministry expressed faith that Pakistan and its people would solve their own problems.

Afghanistan's government is calling for a quick return to normal conditions in Pakistan.

There has been no official reaction reported yet from Bangladesh, carved out of Pakistan in 1971 and itself currently under an interim military-backed government.