Will Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visit India to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting? The question has become a subject of some media speculation in India considering the relations between the two nations have slumped to their new low following New Delhi’s abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 which granted Kashmir its autonomous place under Constitution. So, it looks unlikely that Khan will come. But Pakistan foreign minister has kept some suspense alive by saying they will wait for the invite to come first. If anything, it shows that Islamabad has kept the options open and there’s a likelihood that Khan could even decide to come. How and under what circumstances is not clear yet.
India is unlikely to make any concession that can give Khan an excuse to visit. It has faced very little global pressure over its move to withdraw Kashmir’s autonomy. Though United Nations Security Council has met twice over Kashmir since, no statement has been issued against India’s August 5 move. True, New Delhi has faced some backlash over the extended siege and communication blackout in Kashmir, but that is that. In fact, this criticism too has been largely muted. India, however, did face a stringent scrutiny of its revocation of Article 370 in international media. But that makes little difference unless the major powers also share a similar opinion and it informs their policy action too. So, Pakistan can expect little Kashmir-related action from India that can pave the way for Khan to travel to New Delhi.
However, in recent past, like the foreign governments, Islamabad has also sought lifting of siege and communication blockade in Kashmir as a kind of Confidence Building Measure. And with New Delhi finally taking some steps in this direction, will Pakistan treat it as a step towards normalcy and see it as a sufficient reason to attend SCO summit? Again it’s too early to tell. As if now, Pakistan wants the world and New Delhi to know it’s non-commital. Things, however, will become clear in near future. And it appears that no matter what New Delhi does or does not do with regard to Kashmir, it will hardly be sufficient for Khan to contemplate a visit.
There is thus little hope that India, Pakistan relations will improve in near future. That is unless something dramatic takes place that ushers in a marked change policies of the two countries. Modi and Khan owe it to the people of their respective countries to help change the dynamic of India, Pakistan relations. And time for it is now.