UK fostering Indo-Pak Peace

India’s shying away from talks with Pakistan makes it abundantly clear that it is not prepared to resolve the long-outstanding Kashmir issue through bilateral negotiations.

Responding to a question on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s con­gratulating the newly-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, on taking the oath of office for his second term, the State De­partment spokesperson, Mat­thew Miller, on Wednesday, 6th March 2024, said the US wants India and Pakistan to have a “productive and peaceful rela­tionship”. However, in the same breath, he categorically stated that the pace, scope, and character of any di­alogue were a matter for the two neigh­bours to determine. What does this re­flect? It cogently reflects that the US wouldn’t like to play a mediatory role in initiation of the dialogue that it wishes India and Pakistan to hold, to establish “productive and peaceful relationship”. One is compelled to ask, why the US does not want to play any role in bringing In­dia and Pakistan to the negotiation ta­ble for the proposed dialogue. The only reason that comes to mind is the issue of Indian occupied Jammu and Kash­mir (IoJ&K) – an issue that has been and continues to be a bone of contention be­tween the two regional nuclear powers.

It may be recalled that former US Pres­ident Donald Trump in his first one-on-one meeting with former Prime Minis­ter of Pakistan Imran Khan at the White House on 22nd July 2019 offered to me­diate in the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir. Mr. Trump cogently said that he was making the offer after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested that he “mediate or arbitrate” in the 70-year-old territorial dispute between the two nations. This shows that the US, if it sin­cerely wants, can play a pivotal role in bringing India and Pakistan to the nego­tiating table and encourage them to ne­gotiate and amicably resolve all bilateral issues, including the long-pending issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

The desire expressed by the US to see India and Pakistan have a “productive and peaceful relationship” is estimable. However, saying that the pace, scope, and character of any dialogue was a matter for the two neighbours to deter­mine makes the sincerity of this desire questionable. If the US truly wants In­dia and Pakistan to establish a “produc­tive and peaceful relationship,” it should come forward and play a meaningful role in bringing the two nations to the negotiating table.

It is known to the world that Pakistan has always been sincerely desirous of an amicable resolution of all outstanding is­sues between the two countries, includ­ing the long-pending issue of Indian oc­cupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir. India, on the contrary, has been prepared to have a dialogue with Pakistan on all is­sues except the issue of occupied Kash­mir. Pakistan is aware, India will never be serious about having a bilateral dialogue with it as long as it continues to list occu­pied Kashmir on top of its roster of issues to be discussed between the two coun­tries. India should realise that a dialogue with it, sans the issue of occupied Kash­mir, will never be acceptable to Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan will have to take into account this stark reality before con­templating going to the negotiating table to hammer out other bilateral issues. Any endeavour, from either side, to initiate a dialogue will, as in the past, prove to be an exercise in futility until India is seri­ous about negotiating and resolving the long-outstanding Kashmir conflict.

The UN, the US, and the majority of the world nations have always been ask­ing the two nuclear neighbours -- India and Pakistan -- to get down to the ne­gotiating table and hammer out all is­sues, including the critical issue of oc­cupied Kashmir bilaterally. The UN and the world community should appreci­ate that India has obstinately and per­sistently been shunning bilateral nego­tiations particularly on the substantive issue of occupied Kashmir. Contrary to this, Pakistan, as known to the world, has been consistently offering India a di­alogue on all issues, including the issue of occupied Kashmir.

India’s shying away from talks with Pakistan makes it abundantly clear that it is not prepared to resolve the long-outstanding Kashmir issue through bi­lateral negotiations. The world com­munity must realise that a dialogue between India and Pakistan, though profoundly essential for the establish­ment of peace not only between the two nuclear neighbours but also the region, cannot take place until India is willing to discuss and resolve the issue of occu­pied Kashmir. And the critically perilous Kashmir dispute, the world should ap­preciate, can never be resolved through bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan. It will have to be resolved in accordance with the charters of the UN and the UN Security Council Resolution of 1948 on occupied Kashmir; the Res­olution that cogently declares IoJ&K a disputed territory and grants the right to self-determination to the people of the occupied territory.

Wouldn’t then one be justified to ask the UN, the US and the other world pow­ers to exercise their influence on India, as it did in the case of East Timor and South Sudan? With unequivocal support of the United Nations and equally strong support of the world powers, East Timor got its independence from Indonesia in 1999 and South Sudan gained indepen­dence from the Republic of Sudan in 2011. The names of these two countries emerged on the map of the world, as in­dependent states, in the not too distant past. The UN, the US, and the other world powers should prevail on India and ask it to implement the UN Security Council Resolution vis-à-vis occupied Kashmir in letter and spirit. They must press India to hold a plebiscite in IoJ&K, under the supervision of the UN, forthwith and let the people of occupied Kashmir decide their own fate. Aspirations of the US, the UN, and the world to see a “productive and peaceful relationship” between In­dia and Pakistan could be realised only when the issue of Indian occupied Jam­mu and Kashmir stands resolved.

It is high time the two recognised nu­clear powers of the region, India and Pakistan, had mend their fences, re­stored their strained bilateral relations, and made determined efforts to ham­mer out all outstanding issues, including the long-drawn-out Jammu and Kash­mir conflict, with unparalleled sinceri­ty and a sense of utmost urgency. How­ever, in doing so, both sides must ensure that the talks held are all-encompass­ing and result-oriented. Not only India but the powers that be must also cogent­ly understand that war is no solution to problems, and enduring peace and pros­perity cannot be brought to the people of the subcontinent in particular, and the region in general, unless India and Pak­istan come to terms with each other and attempt to resolve all its issues amicably.

M Fazal Elahi
The writer is a columnist and analyst based in Islamabad and can be contacted at

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