India, Pakistan urged to resume talks
Joint statement by Indian and Pakistani delegation presses for civilised resolution to dispute and conflict
Shazia Nigar Delhi
Delegates at the Pakistan-India Bilateral dialogue, which concluded on 21November, urged the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan to resume the stalled talks at the SAARC summit scheduled for next week in Kathmandu. The delegation, consisting of Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid; amongst other businessmen, journalists and activists, was brought together by Regional Peace Institute, Pakistan. This was the second track 2 bilateral talk by the delegation, the first being held in Pakistan in June 2014.
After two days of deliberation, the joint statement said, “What is needed is strong political will on both sides, and a determination to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and cross-border terrorism.” The dialogue process was further stalled when a Foreign Secretary level talk between the two countries scheduled for 25 August, to explore ways of taking the peace process forward, was called off. India cancelled the meeting after a warning to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to not meet Kashmiri separatists was overlooked. Kasuri responded to this with, “The consultations have been happening for the past 20 years and the meeting was never a secret. If a meeting is known to everyone then it is a very good thing. If the meeting is held quietly in Berlin then you would probably never know. He added, “We were preparing a framework for Kashmir to present it to our cabinet, media and Parliament. The problem while doing so was if Kashmiris were never asked, what would have been the case if they rejected the formula? It would have been counter-productive for India as well.
The conference focused on four key areas of cooperation: political and security dimensions, trade and economic cooperation, social sector and poverty alleviation, and media and people-to-people contacts.
Urging the governments for a civilised resolution to the disputes and conflict marring relations between the two countries, the delegation concluded, “They owe this to 1.5 billion people of our two countries, a majority of whom have languished in the realm of poverty and underdevelopment. The spectre of war is too harrowing a prospect to contemplate, and hence must be de-legitimised by both sides.” The last line gains relevance given the recent firings at the Line of Control. The statement ended with “No more false starts, no more half-hearted initiatives, and no more abdication of responsibility to make peace.”