Whilst this newspaper consistently supports the efforts of the current or any other government in the quest for peace with India, the latest invitation from Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, sadly smacks of futility. He said on August 12 that Pakistan is to invite India to engage in dialogue on the issue of Kashmir following weeks of unrest and numerous deaths and injuries in the valley in the last three months. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry is soon to write to his Indian counterpart seeking dialogue. He will almost certainly be wasting time, paper and ink.
None of the signals emanating from any of the Indian players is remotely indicative of such an initiative falling on fertile ground. The Indian foreign minister, the decidedly combative Sushma Swaraj, is on record in the last month having said that negotiations about Kashmir with Pakistan are just not on the table. The Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, walked out of the recent Saarc meeting in Islamabad after a spat with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and putting a letter in the diplomatic bag at this juncture will engender nothing more than a mildly embarrassing rebuttal.
The fact of the matter is that neither side is willing or probably able to reboot the mindset that leaves the Kashmir issue as a cancer gnawing at the subcontinent. There is nothing to negotiate if neither side is willing to place on the table something the other side wants, and neither side is willing to do so. Honour and dignity to say nothing of political egos and reputations are constantly in play. Both sides are going to have to lose something in order to gain something. Neither will. Both sides accuse the other of causing trouble. India has long fiddled in the background in Balochistan and nowadays finds a willing partner in subterfuge in a shaky Afghanistan. Pakistan fails to prosecute extremists that are alleged to have facilitated attacks on India. Send a letter? We beg to demur.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2016.
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