Peace Dialogue

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking resumption of dialogue between the two countries. More specifically he sought a meeting between India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah, Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month. Imran Khan’s letter is a response to Modi’s communication seeking a meaningful and constructive engagement between the two countries. Earlier Khan had said that Pakistan would take two steps to any step taken by India for normalisation of ties. Speculation is on about whether Sushma Swaraj and Qureshi will meet in New York. The comprehensive bilateral dialogue process was initiated in December 2015 but it could not take off because of the Pathankot terror attack. Imran Khan said India and Pakistan should consider resolving all major outstanding issues including terror and Kashmir.

In December 2015 Sushma Swaraj went to Islamabad for Heart of Asia Conference. It was then that the last substantive interaction with Pakistan occurred though a discreet discussion had been maintained at the level of national security advisers. The Modi government wants the atmosphere to be conducive for a meaningful engagement. Action should be taken by Islamabad against terror groups. The Pakistan PM’s letter comes in the middle of disillusionment that had started in India is the past few weeks. It is felt in high circles in India that things cannot be expected to change under Imran Khan who has strong links with the Pakistan army. At the same time the body of a BSF jawan has been found in a mutilated condition. He was killed due to an unprovoked firing from Pakistan in Jammu’s Samba district.

The continued violation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by the Pakistan army and the loss of lives on the Indian side (Kashmir) cannot be ignored. The Indian military is repeatedly warding off such attacks at great cost to its own morale. Recently, NSA Ajit Doval who is known to be a hardliner vis-à-vis Pakistan and its provocative action in Kashmir had raised the hackles of anti-India forces in Kashmir when he said that India’s sovereignty is non-negotiable. As far as Doval is concerned there can be no compromise to national security and India ought to retaliate more strategically and not become sitting targets for the Pakistani military working in tandem with the ISI. Indeed, Imran Khan’s proximity to the Pakistan army and the belief that he has to toe its line is making it difficult for India to respond to peace overtures.

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