The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan held bilateral talks on Tuesday, April 26, which touched upon a range of issues: the Pathankot terror attack probe, Jammu and Kashmir, and the Mumbai terror attacks. All eyes were set yesterday on the first formal meeting between the two top diplomats - Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry – which comes after talks between the two countries were postponed following the January 2 attack on the Pathankot airbase by Pakistani terrorists. But the meeting failed to break the deadlock, which followed Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s comments earlier this month announcing that the bilateral peace process was suspended.
What did Tuesday’s talks achieve in helping to take forward the stalled Indo-Pak Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) that was agreed upon in December last year? Listen to our Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar sum-up key takeaways from yesterday’s meetings:
Video editing: Charumathi Kalyanaraman; Cameraperson: Shanker Chakravarthy
In fact, this is not the first time that an effort at forging peace between the two countries have been disrupted by a troubling development, the latest instance being the Pathankot attack. In the timeline below, we trace the nearly two-decade-old effort at conducting composite dialogues between the two countries, disrupted by flare-ups such as war, terror attacks and ceasefire violations.
As Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, pointed out, even a cursory glance at the Indo-Pak timeline shows how the bilateral relationship in the last two decades has been an unfortunate victim of mindless terrorist violence, lack of proper institutional mechanisms to manage the ceasefire, and the unwillingness of the political leaders to take bold steps in resolving their outstanding conflicts. He cites the “loss of nerve by the Manmohan Singh government to ink the Kashmir deal that was quietly negotiated by the backchannel negotiators between 2004 and 2007” as an example of "failed negotiations".
Our only hope now is to look forward to the 19th SAARC summit in September 2016, to see if efforts will be renewed in the run-up to the regional peace summit to improve ties between the two countries, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit Islamabad then.