ISLAMABAD: About a month after the armies of Pakistan and India agreed to observe a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), Bloomberg revealed the months-long talks that preceded the landmark announcement were brokered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The cease-fire, the report which cited sources said, is only the beginning of a larger roadmap to forge a lasting peace between the arch-rival neighbours.
The next step in the process involves both sides reinstating high commissioners in New Delhi and Islamabad, who were pulled in August 2019 after Pakistan protested India’s move to revoke the semi-autonomous status of occupied Kashmir.
The reinstatement of the envoys will be followed by the hard part: Talks on resuming trade and a lasting resolution on Kashmir.
Last Thursday, addressing a gathering of scholars and experts discussing national security at the Islamabad Security Dialogue, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, in a rare conciliatory call, urged for a peaceful resolution in Kashmir and for peace talks with India.
He had also called for burying the past and moving forward, saying that Kashmir holds the key to peace in all of South Asia, a region that is home to a quarter of the world’s population.
“It is important to understand that without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, the process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to a derailment,” the army chief had observed.
While over the years, the United States has taken measures to limit escalation between the two neighbours, this may not be the case any more, believes Cameron Munter, who remained United States ambassador in Pakistan between 2010 and 2012, a period marked by worsened relationship between Washington and Islamabad in the wake of Salala check post attack.
“I think the famous line that the American government gave to Pakistan […] to [then chief executive] Gen Musharraf after the 9/11 attacks […] this ‘with you or against you’ kind of approach, I don’t think that’s likely to happen again,” Munter said in response to a question.
“The point here is though […] that it also means that America may not be there to engage on issues […] for example like Kashmir or Central Asia when you want them,” he said. “So there’s a downside and an upside.”
When asked if the US play “some kind of positive, constructive role” in bringing together India and Pakistan without which “South Asia doesn’t really have much of a future”, Munter observed changing geopolitical alignments in the Indo-Pacific region makes such an eventuality “even less likely”.
“I certainly would like to see the good efforts of the United States applied to […] Kashmir and yet this has not been something the Americans had wanted to do for decades. […] I’m sorry to say that the point I made about the line being drawn on Indo-Pacific thinking […] on India’s western border [which it shares with Pakistan] makes this even less likely,” he said.
“So, in plain English, I’d not be terribly optimistic that the Americans will engage in India, Pakistan relations.”