The high level talks between the national security advisors (NSA) of India and Pakistan collapsed after both the countries failed to agree over the agenda for the meeting due to start on Sunday and Pakistan consequently backing out of the talks.
Prime Minister Modi and Pakistan premier Nawas Sharif had planned the talks when they met in the Russian city of Ufa last month. The country’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that India would only discuss terrorism related issues and that it would call off the talks if Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz met with the separatist leaders from Kashmir. She was reacting to Aziz’s remarks that he was willing to come to India for talks without any preconditions. Pakistan wanted to include Kashmir as a part of the agenda for the talks saying that they had met with the Hurriyat leaders whenever they visited India in the past 20 years. Both countries blamed each other for the collapse of talks. Pakistan said that it was “inappropriate” for India to “impose the condition” of changing this “long-standing practice” and that the “negative attitude” of Modi government disrupted peace in the region.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawas Sharif was invited to the swearing in ceremony of Modi and also presented with gifts signaling bonhomie between both the countries. Given Modi’s earlier stance, this unusual move had made irrelevant the typical notions regarding India’s diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Some even saw the talks as a dynamic extension of peace summits and Indo-Pak bus diplomacy during the tenure of Vajpayi government. But the government has not taken any effective steps so far to improve the relations with Pakistan in order to resolve the diplomatic issues. Similar to Pakistan who took to war ruining the atmosphere, India too was preparing to take aggressive steps. Given the fact that Pakistan had opened a trade route with China and also has been used as a mediator by the world powers for the peace efforts in Afghanistan, India had tried for an autonomous isolation of Pakistan instead of ruining the diplomatic relations with its neighbour. SAARC summit sans Pakistan was also raised recently.
India was unable to prevent a war-torn atmosphere and its nuclear-armed neighbour continued to trigger provocations along the LOC, border and even cross-border attacks in Punjab. Even though Pakistan was alleged to be behind the Gurdaspur terror attacks, Modi government has not retorted to any harsh steps so far. India had taken the initiative to resume the engagement with Pakistan at the Shanghai Cooperation organization Summit in Ufa last July. The talks to be held on Sunday between the NSAs of both nations had already drawn the attention of the international community. But the cancellation of talks even before it started, poses a question on the future of ties between India and Pakistan. Of the five decisions taken, one of them was the NSAs to meet in Delhi and discuss all matters related to terrorism.
Jammu and Kashmir is an inevitable part of India and not an area of contention. But for Pakistan, it is. But PM Modi was not able to postpone the talks citing a strong decision when deciding to broadly discuss terrorism. Therefore India becomes literally wordless when Pakistan demands an inclusion of the Kashmir issue in the high level talks. The country in turn uses Kashmir for terrorism. The Pak leaders meeting with the separatist leaders ahead of India-Pak talks has been going on since the time of Vajpayi government and only ignoring the aspect would prove beneficial in the case of India-Pak ties. But the government had put the Hurriyat leaders under house arrest. The Centre seemingly has no idea on how to maintain diplomacy with its neighbour. For effectual international relations, the political atmosphere and circumstances and the global political diplomatic consensus should all be taken into consideration before taking a move. The relation between India and Pakistan has been strained for years and the cancellation of talks is likely to intensify the diplomatic acrimony between them.