Talks Needed

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DR Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both former Chief Ministers of J&K, have advocated dialogue with Pakistan to end violence in Kashmir, saying the friendship between the neighbours holds key to the development in the region.  Abdullah said the militancy in Kashmir was continuing contrary to the claim by the BJP that the normalcy had been restored in the former state. Similarly Mufti called for India-Pakistan talks to resolve Kashmir saying neither war nor gun are the solution. She also asked the centre to engage the people of Jammu and Kashmir in dialogue process.
However, it is unlikely that there will be a dialogue between India and Pakistan in near to medium term. Instead, there are more chances that the relations between the two will worsen going forward. The reason for this is the ongoing  situation in Kashmir, which, if recent killings of police men is anything to go by, is not changing for the better.  The two countries have also been engaging in intermittent skirmishes along the Line of Control. The killings of soldiers and civilians as a result  has become an addictive bloody ritual. This gives a cathartic vent to a long entrenched pathological animosity, which is now pursued for its own sake. And there’s no way it can be addressed unless the two counties arrive at a fundamental understanding that addresses the core issues at the root of their lingering estrangement. But that prospect appears now farther off than ever before.
More so, after the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019 that has further drifted the neighbours apart. Pakistan sees India’s withdrawal of Kashmir’s special status enshrined in Article 370 as a dilution of what it sees as the disputed status of the region. But New Delhi sees the changes to the constitutional position of J&K as its internal matter. Two positions look all but irreconcilable. But for a durable peace in the region, the two countries have to find a way to get along. This requires statesmanship on both sides. And this will only be possible if there’s willingness on the part of the neighbors to resolve their issues. But if nothing is done,  the situation looks set to go further downhill from hereon. That is, if the leadership of the two countries doesn’t step back and seek to put their relationship back on rails.
Given the prevailing situation, it will also be interesting to see whether the new US administration will play any role in improving the India-Pakistan ties. The two countries need some serious prodding by the world’s only super power to re-engage and sort out their differences. Things, however, will be clear in the weeks and months ahead.

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