A chance to recalibrate ties

Published - November 18, 2016 01:51 am IST

The 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control has clearly now ceased to hold, with daily exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani soldiers. The DGMO channel has failed to quell exchanges that include artillery and mortar fire. There are no bilateral talks today at any level, and the only contact between the governments in Islamabad and New Delhi is when one country’s foreign ministry summons the other’s High Commissioner to issue a demarche about the growing casualties along the International Boundary and the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. The two countries have even dispensed with routine niceties: Pakistan is yet to condemn the Uri attack in which 19 soldiers were killed, and India has not put out a statement on the spate of terror attacks in Balochistan. Meanwhile, fears about the LoC firing spiralling out of control have grown. In Pakistan, that worry has increased because of the impending decision on who will be the next army chief, and owing to tensions between Army Headquarters and the Nawaz Sharif government. India, having announced its ‘surgical strikes’ as a new red-line of response post-Uri, is concerned about a terrorist build-up across the LoC, with 18 infiltration attempts reported in the past week.

It is against this backdrop, with confidence-building measures dismantled and dialogue dead, that Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister, has indicated that he will visit India for the Heart of Asia donor conference on Afghanistan in early December. A year ago, when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the Heart of Asia meet in Islamabad, she had announced the resumption of bilateral talks, called a “comprehensive dialogue”. This year no such announcement appears to be even remotely on the cards during Mr. Aziz’s trip to Amritsar. It is, however, a window of opportunity to take the current tensions firmly in hand, and assure regional leaders gathered at the conference — who will include Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and ministers from China and Russia — that India and Pakistan can in fact sort out the concerns bilaterally. The Heart of Asia conference will no doubt reinforce India’s message to Pakistan on terrorism on the need to dismantle all groups including those that target its neighbours such as India, Afghanistan and Iran. However, in discussing the protracted violence in Afghanistan, leaders at the conference may also drive home the point that the current levels of tension and violence between India and Pakistan will benefit no one, but only worry the region at large.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.