‘Indo-Pak Peace’: Fantasy or a Long-Drawn Out Argument?

Tensions between India-Pakistan may have started thawing with the recent cease fire agreement on 25 February.

2 min read

In a rare conciliatory note to India on 19 March, Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa called for the arch-rivals to “bury the past” and move towards cooperation. The note comes after a surprise joint statement issued by the two neighbours on 25 February, where each side recommitted to a ceasefire along the Line of Control and other disputed sections of the border.

In response to Gen Bajwa’s speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on 22 March, extending greetings on Pakistan Day, stating that India desires “cordial relations” with its neighbour in an environment “devoid of terror and hostility”.

Tensions between the two countries plunged to their lowest after August 2019, when the Indian government removed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and locked down the former state.

Since 2019, according to government data, there have been close to 7,000 incidents of crossfire across the LOC, accompanied by rising invective by the two countries’ leaders online.

However, there are signs of the India-Pakistan relationship thawing, with the two governments even agreeing to cooperate on healthcare under the aegis of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. The Centre also recently allowed Prime Minister Imran Khan's special aircraft to use India’s airspace while flying to Sri Lanka for a visit. Moreover, the Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan are meeting for the first time in over two years on 23 March.

It is important to note that these are small steps, and brokering long-lasting peace between any two countries is a long-term process. There are several factors other than just talks, which incapsulates the doctrine of peace.

However, the recent engagements between the old neighbours do raise the following questions — could the recent dialogues be a prelude to peace talks between the two countries, and what role external powers, if any, play in prompting these talks.

To discuss all this, for today’s episode, I spoke with Mr Vivek Katju, who is the former Secretary for West at the Ministry of External Affairs, and Smita Sharma, an independent journalist who writes on foreign policy and is a contributing editor at India Ahead.

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