Of India and Pakistan Talks Open Up Again
By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent
There are mixed feelings about the recent Pakistan India talks which were the first after the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The foreign secretary of the 2 countries discussed the current situation in New Delhi last Thursday, 25th February 2010. These talks worse received with a lot of criticism from the public of Pakistan and India. No agenda was announced for the discussions. The Indaian Foreign Sectretary Ms. Nirupama Rao said that the talks would focus on the core issue of terrorism. The Pakistani Foreign Secretary Mr. Salman Bashir said that he wanted to focus on the core issue of Kashmir.
Both sides entered the conversations with different ideas and in turn were expecting completely different results. Since the direction they wanted to take the discussions was so different the chances of this event being successful was a stretch.
Mr. Salman Bashir described his talks in Delhi as exploratory to reporters, â€œBut unstructured talks for the sake of talks, though important, will not produce any long-term results. It is crucial that India agrees to restore Composite Dialogue to move forward,â€ he emphasized.
About the Kashmir Issue Bashir said: â€œPakistan has made it clear to India that Kashmir is an international issue since the passage of the UN Security Council resolutions on it (in 1948) and international intervention is required for its settlement.
Ms. Rao said that in the discussion it was discussed that â€œthe networks of terrorism in Pakistan be dismantled,â€ â€œWe have agreed to remain in touch,â€ Rao added.
While talking to the Pakistani press at the Pakistan High Commission in the evening Mr. Bashir said, the gap between Pakistan and India was widening and he did not see any substantial progress in the talks. He also added that there is no need for secretary level talks if India remains stuck to its stand on outstanding issues.
During these talks the water issue among others was brought up, which was discussed at the talks. According to Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Pakistan had informed the Indian side about the violations of Indus Basin Treaty, storage of water, Indian plan to build more dams, Kishenganaga hydel project, pollution in sources of water and the issue of glacier melting.
From the responses from both sides one cannot say for sure what issues were discussed and at what point the conversation was left but once can say for sure it doesnâ€™t seem like nay significant results have come out of this venture. However it does not mean that talks were a complete failure and this act should not be repeatedly in the future. On the same token no time frame has been set for future discussions.
The issues that were discussed, including the Kashmir issue, are issues that have been under discussion and have been a problem for as long as the separate history of Pakistan and India has existed. From the reports that came in it looked like India and Pakitan had completely different agendas for this meeting and both sides are not really seeing eye to eye on what the real problem is.
India wants to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan and that is its only focus at this time. On the other hand Pakistan has many issues that it needs solved that have been put on the back burners for years for different reasons.
Every time the two countries start talks something takes place that halts the talks. The cold and hot history of the two nations makes it very hard for any peace or revolutionary discussions to take place. The recent halt in discussions came due to the Mumbai attacks because of which one can assume the Indian Foreign Secretary wants to focus on terrorism building within Pakistan according to India.
The Zardari government argued that peace with India would produce economic benefits that would strengthen Pakistan and allow the military to carry out its 15-year development plan.
In January 2007, Indiaâ€™s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a comment to the similar affect when he said, â€œI dream of a day, while retaining our respective national identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul.â€
No one can be sure if such time will ever come, however we do know that as of right now just thinking about traveling frm one country to another strikes fear in the hearts of many who know what is going on in all of these countries. It would be safe to say that our leaders have yet to give us a world in which what Mr. Singh said would be possible.