Millennium Post

Need to move with caution

New Delhi on Monday shocked the diplomatic circles calling of foreign secretary talks with Islamabad. These talks were meant to draw the roadmap for the summit level meeting between the two nations. Meeting of the heads of the governments of the two nationals would have been part of the natural course of progress of the diplomatic relations between the two countries especially after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited New Delhi on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, to be the part of the swearing-in ceremony.

However, Sharif’s visit did not materialise into any visible change at the grassroots level with increased instances of violation of the ceasefire along the line of control in the Kashmir valley and along the international border in Jammu region. With summer coming to an end, Pakistan indulges in such violations to push the terrorists into the Indian territory before winter snow shuts down all the mountain passes. Continued violations indicate that despite the visit of Pakistan prime minister, the Pak establishment, which is dominated by the military, has not exactly given up its aggressive stance on Kashmir.

The perception further got strengthened when Pakistan envoy to New Delhi, Abdul Basit decided to invite separatist leaders belonging to the Hurriyat Conference for a discussion in the run-up to the secretary-level meeting which was scheduled for 25 August in Islamabad. While announcing the cancellation, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs was categorical stating, ‘They (Pakistan high commission) were told that the meeting (of separatists) was unacceptable to us but they chose to go ahead with it. Under the circumstances, there is no use of sending the foreign secretary to Islamabad.’

New Delhi’s stringent move on Pak envoy’s meeting with the Kashmiri separatists also reflects compulsions of the Narendra Modi government to address the domestic constituency.

This is not the first time that the separatists have travelled to New Delhi to be hosted by Pakistan High Commission nor is it for the first time that Pakistani rangers have indulged in cross-border firing. Even while inviting Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi, the Indian establishment must have understood that despite the efforts at détente, it was not going to bear an immediate fruit.

The path of peace between the two countries is pretty tortuous and more often calibrated by domestic considerations. Modi through his invitation to Sharif had left a section of the core supporters of his party disappointed.

However, there is no denying the fact that the move has come as a setback for the peace process and India and Pakistan hereinafter would be back to playing the blame game.

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