News & Views
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has many a time expressed his keen desire to improve relations with India by settling all disputes through dialogue. But during the last three years he seems to have realized that India is not serious in holding meaningful talks to resolve the disputes. He had firsthand knowledge of India’s hypocrisy and intransigence, when secretary-level talks were cancelled that were scheduled to be held in August 2014 on the pretext that Pakistan’s Ambassador Abdul Basit had met Hurriyat leaders. On winning elections Narindra Modi’s invitation to leaders of South Asian nations including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to his oath-taking ceremony in May 2014. Political observers, media analysts and general public in South Asia and world over had expected that relations between India and Pakistan will get normalized, and a way forward will be found to resolve all outstanding disputes between India and Pakistan. But it was a wishful thinking.
Howeveer, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has realized that such good gestures would not make India change its mindset, and he is poised to raise the issue in the international fora. But his aides and foreign office continue with the mantra of peace talks with India. If they are trying to show to the world community, then it is a cry in the wilderness. In reply to a letter a letter from Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry to his counterpart to hold talks, Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale handed over the letter from Indian External Affairs Secretary on 23rd August stating that India was only willing to discuss ‘cross-border terrorism’ which was its ‘core concern.’ According to an early report, Jaishankar’s letter was sent to Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale on 17th August 2016. One would not know why Indian High Commissioner was holding the letter from Jaishankar for about a week?
In its reply, India reportedly asked Pakistan to ‘vacate’ Azad Jammu Kashmir claiming it also belonged to them. Chaudhry Azaizaz’ August 19 letter, second in the last 10 days, “invited Jaishankar to visit Islamabad by the end of this month to discuss the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, with a view to finding a fair and just solution, as per the United Nations Security Council.” Pakistan had also called for putting an immediate end to the human rights violations against the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir and for providing medical facilities to the injured, including the permission for doctors and paramedics to travel. Anyhow, India had rejected Pakistan’s proposal to hold foreign secretary-level talks on Kashmir and asserted that it would like to discuss aspects related to cross-border terrorism that are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
India’s foreign secretary S. Jaishankar expressed his willingness to travel to Islamabad to put an end to cross-border terrorism and infiltration but not Kashmir or other disputes. He stated that “Pakistan had no locus standi in addressing any aspect of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which is an internal matter of India.” International community has been mute on this issue, but after recent genocide of Kashmiris, Kashmir is again in focus. As stated above, India had cancelled talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan that were to be held in Islamabad on 25th August 2014. Indian government’s sudden decision to call off talks had come as a serious blow to peace process between India and Pakistan, grounding all signs of optimism that peace would be brought in South Asia because of Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi’s affinity.
Pakistan had defended its consultations with Hurriyat leaders, pointing out that it was a “longstanding practice” to consult them before talks with India. It also urged India to reconsider its decision, which it said was a “setback” for efforts to improve ties. But India insisted that Pakistan would have to abandon this practice and decide whether it wanted to hold talks with New Delhi or stay engaged with the Kashmiri leaders. Unfortunately, India continues with its intransigence and insists that Kashmir is an integral part of India.
India has never been sincere in engaging in meaningful peace process with Pakistan. Every Indian government due to international pressure had found it easy to make false pledges that it was willing to engage in peace process to resolve all issues including Kashmir dispute with Pakistan. In reality, India earnestly endeavored to find excuses and pretexts to cancel peace talks while shifting the blame to Pakistan. Indian hegemonic design and imperialistic motives coupled with Hindutva radical dream of “Akhand Bharat” has already been exposed as India is a usurper and occupier; hence it is not sincere in engaging in peaceful dialogue to resolve outstanding disputes including Kashmir, with Pakistan. Just consider this. For a long time, the Indian politicians and officials alike were loath even to accept the Kashmir dispute’s existence. Only when there are voices saying that Kashmir is a flashpoint and war between two nuclear states is fraught with extreme dangers for both countries as well as the region, India starts expressing willingness to discuss the dispute. But it is invariably with the caveat that Kashmir is India’s non-negotiable integral. Then what Kashmir issue they want to discuss? Let no one harbor any illusion on this score that it means Azad Kashmir.
Way back in 1994, Indian’s parliament had adopted a resolution, formally laying claim to Azad Kashmir. And though the Indians are not quite vocal about it publicly, in private they mince no words whatsoever in taking this position. In December 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a private media channel underscoring the imperative need of resolving the Kashmir dispute through negotiations had stated that if left unresolved Kashmir dispute would explode into nuclear war. Then prime minister Manmohan Singh flew into tantrums on Nawaz Sharif’s informal statement; though this dispute is viewed the world over as a flashpoint that could potentially flare up into a nuclear armed conflict. In this backdrop, our foreign office should stop making offers and harping to the tune for talks with India to the international community’s great fun and to their own people’s humiliation.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.