India-Pak composite dialogue process has been hostage to external factors

Resuming peace process
ActIT Jammu, Projects, Java,, C# Training Jammu

Presenting his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Wednesday Abdul Basit, Pakistan’s new High Commissioner in India, expressed the hope that the new government, assuming office after the completion of ongoing elections to Lok Sabha, will “engage fruitfully” with Pakistan. He said that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief was resolved “to changing the bilateral narrative of conflict into a one underpinned by the people of both sides”. Pakistan, Basit said, hoped that the next government would move quickly and resolutely to engage fruitfully with Pakistan as desired by the people of both sides of the border and the Line of Control. While such gestures for peace and for the two countries to move quickly and resolutely to carry forward the dialogue process to its logical conclusion are indeed welcome, with the hope that the disrupted dialogue process will be brought back to rails soon, much will depend on the much-awaited verdict of the Indian electorate. Unfortunately not a single political party in the poll fray has come out with its vision about the India-Pakistan peace process and the solution of the vexed Kashmir problem, which undisputedly has been both cause and consequence of the prolonged India-Pakistan conflict. On the contrary, worst kind of jingoism, frightening enough for the future ties between the two neighbours, has been on display during the current election campaign. 

Tragically, the process of India-Pakistan composite dialogue, which has moved with fits and starts during the past one and half decade, has been repeatedly derailed due to external factors. The hawks in the two countries, in politics, bureaucracy and security establishment, have been determining the cource of peace process. The political leadership in the two countries, lacking will and capacity to withstand pressures to move forward with speed and earnestness, has invariably been pressurized by those opposed to an era of peace, friendship and cooperation in the region to either disrupt the process or move backward. The external factors have disrupted the dialogue process and few steps forward were followed either by prolonged thaw or by pushing the process backward. One of the important steps forward was the decision to relax the visa regime and encourage people-to-people contacts. This did help initially in ensuring better direct contacts between the people belonging to different profession, widening the peace lobbies in the two countries. But unfortunately during the past over two years the two countries have moved backward in this regard, making the visa regime even more strict. Some of the decisions have been kept on hold and there has been decline in the exchanges between the people of the two countries at different levels.

Apart from some avoidable skirmishes on the borders or the Line of Control, some other external factors too have determined the course of dialogue process. The prolonged electoral processes in the two countries have invariably contributed to the disruption of dialogue process both at the political and bureaucratic level, and particularly so at the people’s level. India –Pak relations and Kashmir issue have become hostage to this electoral politics in the two countries. Some of the decisions taken during the dialogue process at the official level have either been shelved or implemented more in breach than in observance. Even the process of adopting confidence building measures (CBMs) to bridge trust deficit between the two countries, so essentials to move forward on the road to peace, has come to a grinding halt. The hope generated in both parts of the divided Jammu and Kashmir with the ceasefire agreement between the two countries, followed by the openingof few routes for trade and travel, have vanished with the passing of time with the two countries failing to make such trade and travel hassle-free and also adopt other important Kashmir-related CBMs. These included opening of more routes, extending the travel facilities to all the citizens of the state, expanding trade facilities, reducing the deployment of troops and their withdrawal from the Siachen Glacier and providing their due place to the leaders of J&K on the dialogue table for finding a just and durable solution to the Kashmir dispute. While talking of a Kashmir solution within the framework of insaniyat or of “sky is the limit” New Delhi has not moved an inch forward to initiate a process of meaningful dialogue with the estranged people in the Indian side of Kashmir. Worse, there is no end to human rights violations in Kashmir, not to talk of zero tolerance to human rights abuses.