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Modi, Shariff and the uncertain Kashmir

Modi, Shariff and the uncertain Kashmir

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had surprised everyone by inviting Pakistan Premier Nawas Shariff along with other South Asian leaders for his swearing in ceremony in the capital on May 26.

The move had been pleasantly welcomed by the people of the country as well as the world leaders and was supposed to mark a new beginning in the strained relation between the two countries. Sheriff after returning home had gone on to say that he was satisfied with his visit and was looking forward to working with Modi in "harmony on all unsettled matters". Expectations ran high as the two leaders strived to boost up the peace efforts. But the recent turn of things indicate a never ending gap between the two nations especially on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan had said that it was impossible to resume the friendly relations without sorting out the Kashmir issue. India, on the other hand, has reiterated that Kashmir was an inevitable part of the country and therefore was not a matter of discourse.

The recent Pakistan moves apparently have contributed to the provocations to the Indian government including violating ceasefire continuously both along the International Border and Line of Control. Adding to this, the cancellation of talks is yet another blow to the peace efforts between the two countries. Modi had called off the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan after Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit met with the Kashmiri separatist leaders. The government had clearly stated that Pakistan should be meeting the official government and not the separatists. But Basit met with Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Tuesday giving India another reason to justify its actions. Geelani, reportedly, had said that Kashmir was not an internal issue but an international one and condemned Modi’s decision to cancel the talks. Pakistan described the move as a “setback” to the ties between both nations and defended their meetings saying that they had been consulting the separatist leaders before the India –Pak meets every time and it was not a new thing. US with its perpetual policy of interfering into others affairs have termed the move “unfortunate”.

The BJP had always opposed the Congress, while in power, for its rendezvous with Pakistan. Now when Modi government is initiating peace talks with the neighboring nation, the Congress is hitting hard on the government asking it to call off the meeting following the same trial as the BJP in critisising Pakistan for holding talks with the separatist leaders. The Modi government would be looking to play safe by being cautious of the opposition attacks at the same time not letting go of its stand on Pakistan and Kashmir issue. With all the apparent provocations, the stand the Indian government would take is yet to be seen. The initial hope and the excitement have died down and the bonhomie seems to be like an impossible dream.

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