Revocation of the special status of Kashmir has drifted India, Pakistan further apart. In fact, the gulf between the two has now become even more difficult to bridge. And it is apparent from the kind of statements being issued from the two capitals. India has recurrently threatened to take back Pakistan Administered Kashmir. Even in case of the talks, the defence minister Rajnath Singh has said that PaK will be the subject of discussion. Similarly, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ruled out talks unless New Delhi restores the status quo ante in Kashmir. in a recent interview to New York Times, Khan said there was “no point” talking to India after the withdrawal of Article 370 which granted special status to Kashmir.
The statements reveal a further hardening of the positions of the two countries. They also underline fundamental differences in how the two countries seek to approach each other. Already, the relations between the two countries had only gone downhill since the Pathankot attack which followed shortly after Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore in December 2014. Pakistan’s probe into the attack went nowhere. And after the arrest of a former Indian Navy officer Kulbushan Jadhav in Balochistan, the distrust between the neighbours became too deep-rooted to go away by a few unproductive meetings between the neighbours on the sidelines of the international events.
The deep distrust and the entrenched animosity have ensured that the issues have remained unresolved. Talks have invariably been followed by the violence and the consequent break-up in the engagement. This has meant that no process of dialogue has been taken to its logical conclusion. This dismal state of affairs has been repeated so often that the people in both countries have grown cynical of any prospect of progress in the relations of the two countries. Here is hoping that the reported international facilitation leads to something positive and the two countries get back to dialogue. However, getting back to dialogue will hardly be enough. It will again be prone to suspension if intervened by yet another attack. For it to be successful, a renewed engagement between the countries has to be immune to the efforts of the actors out to disrupt it. It has to be an uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue. And finally any dialogue should strive to reach its desired end in the acceptable resolution of all issues between the neighbours including Kashmir.