Talk for Peace

THE interview of Pakistan National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf to the renowned Indian journalist Karan Thapar has become a subject of discussion in India and Pakistan. It was first such interview of a top government functionary in Pakistan to an Indian publication following the revocation of Article 370 in August last year. So, there was this huge interest in what Pakistan may have to say about the situation of the past fourteen months. And the interview did, to a large extent, satisfy the curiosity. Yusuf was combative in his response to Thapar’s questions. And he made a few revelations too. For example, that India had expressed “a desire for conversation”. and sent feelers through some channels. But Pakistan, he said, wanted New Delhi to reverse constitutional changes, undo domicile law and make Kashmiris the third party before the talks can go ahead.

Yusuf, however, added that Pakistan was prepared to look towards future and improve relations with India. He said Pakistan was ready to discuss Kashmir and also terrorism that has invariably been the Indian demand. At the same time Yusuf offered some proofs of the alleged Indian involvement in sabotage activities in Pakistan. He also said Islamabad had yet to take a final decision on granting a provincial status to Gilgit Baltistan, something that is also being opposed in Kashmir.

Overall, the interview underlined the prevailing bitterness in the relations between India and Pakistan following the withdrawal of J&K’s autonomy last year. Considering that Yusuf made any restoration of engagement with New Delhi contingent upon reversal of Article 370 move and making Kashmiris a third party to Kashmir issue, the conditions New Delhi will be loath to meet, there is little hope of a dialogue between the neighbours anytime soon. Moreover, the lingering China-India stand-off in Ladakh has only added to complications.

One outcome of the Article 370 move was that it made Pakistan-China relations even closer. Ladakh stand-off has broken the decades-old peace and stability along the Line of Actual Control. Now India’s northern and western borders are unstable. This has created a difficult regional situation, something that needs an urgent engagement among the three countries or between New Delhi and either of the two others to address. As things stand, the dialogue with China has shown little promise of success. But this hardly is a reason not to persist with the execise. More so, with Pakistan which if pursued with seriousness holds a real possibility of regional peace.

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