It is needed: a Pakistan-India dialogue


The Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Gautam Bambewale delivered the message of Delhi’s willingness to talk in response to the invitation by the foreign secretary of Pakistan, Aizaz Chaudhry to his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar. However, India has stuck to its old position of only having cross border terrorism as the subject of the dialogue, while on the other hand, Pakistan’s aim was to start a dedicated dialogue on Kashmir. There is of course a great deal of diplomatic manoeuvring at play here as by accepting to engage in dialogue but refusing to talk about Kashmir, India has through one stroke made itself appear to be in favour of talks without changing its position of not putting Kashmir on the table. Unfortunately, amidst these diplomatic games, the real losers are the people of Kashmir who have been deprived of their rights and subjected to heavy-handed treatment by the Indian state. No dialogue on Kashmir can ever be successful unless all three parties to the conflict i.e. Pakistan, India, and Kashmir meaningfully engage with each other to sort it out. However, India’s uncompromising refusal to entertain Pakistan’s repeated demands to include Kashmir in any dialogue process has even undermined the possibility of talks on cross border terrorism. As far as Kashmiris are concerned, their voice has for the most part been drowned out by the jingoistic chest thumping in both Pakistan and India.