Foreign Secretary Level Talks between India and Pakistan
Posted on August 17th, 2014

By Afshain Afzal

 Despite all pressures and coercive measures to fail any dialogue between two potential defence allies, Pakistan and India are once again going to have Foreign Secretary level talks, tentatively on 25 August 2014. The military brass and secular parties are much aggrieved to see Prime Minister Mr. Narandra Modi and his counterpart, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif applying new theories of international politics and political science that as sovereign Muslims and Hindus neighbours, Pakistan and India are not threat to each other. In other words, all theories relating to religion as instrument of clash between civilizations are going to be challenged. As the date is approaching nearer, media in both the countries have renewed their campaigns of intensifying enmity drills. Salman Khurshid, spokesperson of Congress party, who also remained Indian External Affairs Minister, criticized BJP government’s dialogue strategy with Pakistan, jumping straight to Foreign Secretary level talks. He linked dialogue process with improvement or expectation of improvement in relations between the two countries and enquired basis behind the decision to send the Indian Foreign Secretary to Pakistan.

 As the media in Pakistan and India are projecting the two neighbours as traditional enemies, engaged in border / Line of Control (LoC) violations and having potential to indulge into a nuclear war, Mr. Narandra Modi is quite optimistic that neither Pakistan nor India is going to use their nuclear deterrent against each other. The recent media’s twisting of statement of Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, on the very first day of assumption of charge, was among the steps to mentally prepare Foreign Secretaries of both countries to think on the old lines of continuity of hate-hate relation due to suspicion and communication gap. However, recent rescue of India Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, Satyasheel Yadav, who had unintentionally crossed over to Pakistani territory and his honourable return by Pakistani authorities to BSF authorities has exposed media’s yellow journalism. The smiling faces of Pakistani and Indian personnel on media after the incident gave a hope that India would realize that unfortunate and sad incident of beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj of Indian Army along the LoC in Poonch sector on 8 January 2013 was not carried out by Pakistan personnel and was handiwork of some common enemy of Pakistan and India. Ironically, Indian Media even tried to give this incident negative touch by claiming that Pakistani military personnel interrogated him, ignoring the facts that procedure in both the countries requires completion of Interrogation Report before handing over to the country of origin.

 With regard to unprovoked firing and violation of cease fire, Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda, Commander Indian Northern Command had have been complaining New Delhi a sharp increase in the incidents. Basing on intelligence reports from Military Intelligence and BSF, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16 Corps, Lieutenant General K H Singh had been repeatedly claiming infiltration by ghost infiltrators from Pakistani side. It is difficult to confirm authenticity of such reports of infiltration; however, on firing from Indian side, Pakistani troops also retaliate. Pakistani troops deployed at the LoC also receive similar kind of intelligence input of sneaking by Indian agents and same procedure is adopted. Carrying out firing drills against unseen targets by both the countries has become routine affair. This drill is being followed by both sides since decades and reported as Cease Fire Violations”. Ironically, as always, when any positive move in confidence building and cooperation between Pakistan and India is scheduled, the firing between the two Armies and intelligence inputs against each other intensifies.

 In a recent development relating to major bone of contention between the two countries Jammu and Kashmir state”,  Government of India has asked United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which has strength of 40 military Observers, 23 international civilians and many locals, to vacate its rent free building in New Delhi or start paying rent. Interestingly, UNMOGIP annual budget US $ 19.64 million (2014-2015) but the group has very little contribution in the shape of either reports on cease-fire violations along the LoC or reporting of developments that could lead to cease-fire violations. Islamabad is of the view that asking UNMOGIP to move out of the building does not abolish the mandate which was given by the UN Security Council under Resolution 91 of 1951 and as long as the Kashmir dispute is not resolved, the UNSC mandate remains. On the other hand, there is a debate in India that UNMOGIP has outlived its mandate and that its role has been overtaken by the 1972 Simla Agreement. One wonders there is no harm in resolving all the outstanding issue between the two countries bilaterally on the basis of Simla Agreement. However, New Delhi must come forward with a formula giving assurance that documents relating partition of India including Independence Bill and Cabinet Mission plan would not be sidelined. 

 As the date and agenda point is being finalized between the two countries, there is a lot of optimism in Pakistan and India. There are high hopes that Prime Minister Mr. Narandra Modi and his counterpart would be able to achieve breakthrough in overcoming suspicion and misunderstandings due to communication gap and misreporting by intelligence agencies and interest groups. The foreign offices of both the countries, for the time being, need to ignore media reports and intelligence alerts to make the talks successful. There are a lot of avenues as Prime Ministers of both the countries will also be getting opportunity to meet on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in September.  Let the military brass and intelligence agencies do their job, which has nothing to do with diplomatic and political efforts to remove the curtain of suspicion, mistrust and speculations between the two countries.  Let there be delay in granting MFN status to India and commitment of Kashmir and other outstanding issues but both countries should keep their hopes high for a better tomorrow.  Pakistan and India need to be cautious that foreign powers, especially powers outside the region, would never like peace and stability to prevail in the region. It is in the interest of both the countries that irrespective of the results, we must not give up hope in dialogue. Let us develop mutual trust and try to accommodate each other rather than feeling proud in defeating the other side.  There are high hopes that if we meet with an open mind without preconceived suspicions, in a matter of couple of meetings, we would comfortably win each other.

One Response to “Foreign Secretary Level Talks between India and Pakistan”

  1. Lorenzo Says:


    “(CNN) — Kashmiri separatist leaders on Monday slammed New Delhi’s decision to call off talks with Pakistan, scheduled for August 25 in Islamabad.

    New Delhi called off the talks after Pakistan’s New Delhi-based high commissioner, Abdul Basit, invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for consultations ahead of the summit.

    Only a war can sort out their difference.

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