Can Pakistan Follow-up on its Outreach to India?

The outreach by COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa to India, echoed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, appears to be reciprocated in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan Day message to PM Khan. Constituencies for peace, in both countries, need to be strengthened so that complicated issues that have hurt ties since independence are resolved, and the South Asian subcontinent can move forward together towards human development and economic progress.

An editorial in Dawn, noted that the “peace process in South Asia moves in fits and starts: things look up one moment, only to come crashing down the very next. The last few years have been particularly tense, with the situation along the Line of Control volatile, while the two states came to the brink of another war in 2019 after India’s Balakot misadventure.”

As the Editorial notes, “the first sign of this thaw came last month, when the respective DGMOs established contact and announced resumption of the ceasefire along the LoC. Further signs that something is afoot came on Wednesday when Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaking at the Islamabad Security Dialogue, said that India should make the first move to normalise ties, while adding that Kashmir was the “lone irritant” standing in the way of better Pakistan-India relations. On Thursday, the army chief made similar comments at the same forum, saying it was time to “bury the past and move forward”, while again highlighting the need to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio.”

Yet, the Editorial cautions, “as positive as the signals appear, it would be premature to celebrate ‘talks about talks’. Both countries have been at a similar juncture before, where negotiations had reached an advanced stage and peace seemed imminent. However, the process was derailed and soon it was back to square one. Such mistakes have to be avoided this time around and interlocutors on both sides need to tread carefully without raising expectations.”

Author: Omar Derawal

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Author: Omar Derawal