Terrorism remains the biggest hindrance to ties between India and Pakistan, the Parliament's standing committee on External Affairs has said and recommended that New Delhi adopt a National Security Framework if a solution has to be found.
"The enduring aspect of the India-Pakistan relationship has been the persistence of mutual antagonism, mistrust and conflict," the committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, a former junior External Affairs Minister, said in its report tabled in Parliament on Friday. "However, the larger truth that makes this relationship important for both the sides is the geographical contiguity of the two countries and long shaped history," it said.
It mentioned that the relationship has witnessed many ups and downs through four wars, numerous ceasefire violations and crises.
Separatists-sponsored strike affects normal life in Kashmir
Normal life in Kashmir came to a halt on Saturday due to a separatists-sponsored strike against the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution, which they termed as a move to change the demography of the Muslim- majority Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 35A of the Constitution defines the residency laws in Jammu and Kashmir and bars outsiders from buying any immovable property or applying for jobs in the state government. Schools, colleges, shops, business establishments and private offices remained closed, officials said, adding that attendance in most government offices was very thin. Buses stayed off the roads in most parts of Kashmir, while a few private vehicles could be seen plying, the officials said.
Authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of people in five police station areas –Maharajgunj, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Nowhatta and Rainawari, apprehending violent protests.
Stating that peace between the two sides remained elusive despite numerous efforts for dialogue, it said, "The biggest hindrance in smooth ties between India and Pakistan has been Pakistan's use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy to destabilise India in general and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular. There is a growing realisation among the international community about Pakistan being the epicentre of terrorism in the world."
According to the report, Pakistan's strategy of deniability and claiming equivalence as a victim of terrorism appears nothing but an alibi for its inaction. "Pakistani sponsored terrorism is not only a major threat to India but also to the entire region," the report said.
Another reason for the continued hostility and suspicion between the two sides is the competing and conflicting territorial claims.
"While Siachen and Sir Creek are unsettled territorial disputes, Pakistan's unsupported claim to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been a constant irritation to successive Indian governments," the report said.
It also referred to Pakistan's deep state - a reference to its army and the ISI - and said it has vested interests in the continuation of the proxy war.
"The military establishment's self-interest remains the key factor behind the continuity in hindrances to peace," the report stated.