New Delhi: With the abrogation of Article 370, India considers the ‘Kashmir issue’ is now over and that the ‘composite dialogue’ between the two countries now boils down only to cross-border terrorism.
In 1997, on the sidelines of SAARC summit in the Maldives, the composite dialogue process was established by then prime ministers I K Gujral and Nawaz Sharif. For the first time, all contentious issues, including that of Jammu and Kashmir, were to be discussed.
However, with the ending of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its subsequent bifurcation into two Union Territories, the “Kashmir chapter is now over”, a senior government official told ThePrint.
“The talking points will now have to be revised. Although there is no room for dialogue at this end, India has to be seen as a statesman,” said the official.
According to the official, India is now looking forward to a normal and stable relationship with its neighbour.
The composite dialogue and Modi government:
The composite dialogue between the neighbours has been suspended several times in the past. However, it was under NDA-1 when a complete revamp in the style took place. Modi government agreed to hold talks on terror and violence but refused to link the issue with the talks.
The transformed dialogue-style was conducted regularly until 2008 when Pakistan-based terror group attacked India's financial capital -- Mumbai and the process was suspended.
In the past too, the process has been hampered, especially during the 1999 Kargil War, but the credibility of the method was questioned for the first time only after the 2008 Mumbai attack.
The talks reopened in 2010, however, under a different setup. New talking points such as counter-terrorism were added.
The ghastly attack on security forces in Uri in 2016 compelled the government to take a strong stand against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. It was in wake of Uri attack when Modi government said "terror and talks cannot go together".
“The problem in India-Pakistan relations is not the absence of good talking points or dialogue mechanisms… Notwithstanding what new items are listed for dialogue by diplomats, the test of the relationship will remain the irreversible end of terrorism and walking away from viewing each other as enemies who must be outwitted and defeated at all costs,” ThePrint quoted Husain Haqqani, former ambassador of Pakistan to the US.
Terror and talks cannot go together:
According to former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, the key talking point with Islamabad is of terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism.
“At this time, talks are out of the question. But at a later stage, India has to discuss terrorism with Pakistan, which remains the biggest unfinished agenda. Besides, agreement on nuclear sites also remains a crucial part of the composite dialogue,” Sibal told the portal.
The previous dialogue process had eight subjects. The comprehensive bilateral dialogue, however, spreads across ten points: peace and security, confidence-building measures, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control, humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.
T C A Raghavan, the former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, told ThePrint: “As neighbours there are a number of issues that both the countries have to discuss. The issue of Kashmir is not over yet. The question of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has to be settled.
“But Pakistan is clearly overreacting at the moment. We want a stable relationship with Pakistan,” Raghavan said.
“Terrorism has muddied the water since the 1980s but even before that, the 1965 war came right after the 1963 ministerial-level talks on Kashmir and the 1971 war was not long after the Tashkent Declaration of 1966. The Simla Accord of 1972 lays the foundation for dealing with all issues, including Kashmir, bilaterally. It also calls upon India and Pakistan to end the propaganda that breeds hostility,” Haqqani told the news site.
Since Imran Khan came to power, he has urged for a dialogue with India on various occasions. However, with the government's decision to burry Article 370, Islamabad has now refused to propose a peace solution through dialogue.
On Friday, post the UN Security Council closed-door meeting on the Kashmir issue, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “There is no question of a dialogue with India.”
Pakistan has strongly condemned New Delhi's move on Kashmir. While Pakistan has been trying to amass international attention on the issue, India has called it an "internal matter".