Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

India-Pakistan ties and the mirror of 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper- India-Pakistan relation

Context

An official delegation from Pakistan was in New Delhi recently to hold talks with its Indian counterparts under the aegis of the Indus Water Treaty.

Positive developments in the relations

  • Starting from February, India has been sending through Pakistan consignments of wheat, via the World Food Programme, to the Taliban-run Afghanistan.
  • Evidently, channels of communication between the two governments are working and open hostility has subsided, if not vanished completely.
  • China factor: The change has been driven by realist considerations that surfaced during the Ladakh border crisis on the Line of Actual Control with China in the summer of 2020.
  • The recent change of government in Pakistan, including Imran Khan’s removal, is seen as a positive in New Delhi.
  • The official Indian establishment has had close ties with both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party that are now part of the government.

Countering the collusive military threat from China and Pakistan

  • The border crisis in Ladakh raised the spectre of a collusive military threat between China and Pakistan.
  • Such a challenge cannot be effectively dealt with by the military alone and would need all the instruments of the state — diplomatic, economic, informational, and military — to act in concert.
  •  To prevent such a situation, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval opened backchannel talks with Pakistan.

Way ahead

  • There are some low-hanging fruits which can be plucked the moment a political go-ahead is given.
  • These include a deal on the Sir Creek dispute, an agreement for revival of bilateral trade, return of High Commissioners to the missions in Delhi and Islamabad, and build-up of diplomatic missions to their full strength.
  • Demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier is still seen to be off the table as the Indian proposal is believed to be unacceptable to the Pakistan Army.
  • A window of opportunity would possibly open in Pakistan after the next elections, which are scheduled next year but could be held earlier.

Conclusion

India must shift course from the belligerence it has displayed and profited from earlier in favour of proper diplomatic and political engagement with Pakistan.

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