Terrorism lingers over India-Pakistan peace talks
Terrorism concerns loomed as India-Pakistan peace talks resumed Thursday for the first time since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Though India has seen little terrorism since, it pressed Pakistan on the topic and handed over three dossiers on suspected militants operating in Pakistan.
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Talking about talks
Thursday’s meeting was more about symbolism than substance – at best, say analysts, it may lead to a resumption of the formal “composite dialogue” peace process started in 2004. Though on Thursday neither side gave a date for their next meeting.Skip to next paragraph
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Over the past year, the two countries have been holding backchannel talks to this end, encouraged by the United States and other Western governments, which see the dialogue as an important cornerstone for a stable Afghanistan. While Pakistan’s disputes with India continue to boil, its army is considered likely to maintain links with militants there.
“The resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue is apparently closely linked with US moves in Afghanistan in the context of President Obama’s publicly declared intent to begin the process of US military withdrawal from Afghanistan from 2011,” wrote P.K. Upadhyay, a consultant with the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, a think tank, in a paper published on its website.
Core dispute: Kashmir
The composite dialogue process was organized to address disputes over a range of issues, including cross-border trade, water, and, most importantly, Kashmir, which lies at the heart of India and Pakistan’s enmity. The Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both, has sparked two wars since the region gained independence from Britain in 1947.
After 2004, when the two countries began to talk peace, cross-border violence in Kashmir dropped significantly. A deal was nearly reached in 2007 to set up a joint mechanism to administer Kashmir, but its progress stalled when Pakistan’s then president, Pervez Musharraf, lost power.
Since the peace process was dropped in 2008, more reports have emerged of incursions into Indian-run Kashmir by militants allegedly backed by Pakistan.
Again, on this front, recent events have not been warming for diplomatic relations.
On Wednesday, India accused Pakistani border guards of firing at one of its posts across the frontier
The alleged shooting, which Pakistan denies took place, came immediately after three Indian soldiers were killed in a gun battle with suspected Islamic militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir.