Reuters reported that Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held talks in Dubai in January in a recent effort to end military tensions over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Ties between the nuclear-armed rivals have been on ice since a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in 2019 traced to Pakistan-based militants that led to India sending warplanes to Pakistan.
India and Pakistan ties were further severed since a suicide bomber hit an Indian Military convoy in Kashmir in 2019, the incident was traced to Pakistan-based insurgents that led India to conduct a surgical strike.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew Indian-rule Kashmir’s autonomy to have strong influence over the territory that provoked outrage in Pakistan and downgraded diplomatic and bilateral trade ties.
Both nations have re-opened a back channel of diplomacy designed for a new roadmap to normalize ties over the next several months.
Kashmir has recently been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, a disputed region both nations rule only in part.
Officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that personnel from India’s Research and Analysis Wing, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence met in Dubai, the meeting was facilitated by the United Arab Emirates.
Both Nations have not responded in regards to the meeting, Reuters reported.
Ayesha Siddiqa, a top Pakistani defense analyst believes that Indian and Pakistan spy agencies have been meeting for several months in third countries.
“I think there have been meetings in Thailand, in Dubai, in London between the highest level people,” Reuters quoted Ayesha.
But it has never been publicly acknowledged, Reuters reported.
“There is a lot that can still go wrong, it is fraught,” said one of the people in Delhi on condition of anonymity and familiar with the subject matter told Reuters.
He added, “That is why nobody is talking it up in public, we don’t even have a name for this, it’s not a peace process. You can call it a re-engagement,”.
According to Reuters, both nations seek rapprochement, as India has been locked in a border stand-off with China since last year and does not want military expansion on the Pakistan front.
China an ally to Pakistan is stuck in economic difficulties, and on IMF bailout program, which can weakly afford heightened tensions on the Kashmir border for a long period of time, experts believe, and it also has to stabilize its border with Afghanistan as the US withdraws its troops from the country.
“It’s better for India and Pakistan to talk than not talk, and even better that it should be done quietly than in a glare of publicity,” said Myra MacDonald, a former Reuters journalist who has just published a book on India, Pakistan, and the war on the frontiers of Kashmir told the media agency.
“…But I don’t see it going very far beyond a basic management of tensions, possibly to tide both countries over a difficult period – Pakistan needs to address the fall-out of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, while India has to confront a far more volatile situation on its disputed frontier with China”, MacDonald indicated.
Following the January meeting, both India and Pakistan announced they would have a ceasefire along the line of control (LoC), a disputed area that has left dozens of civilians dead and injured.
Reuters reported that both nations have also signaled to hold elections on the other sides of Kashmir this year, which are efforts to normalize their ties and bring an end to decades of bloodshed.
“The two have also agreed to dial down their rhetoric”, the people Reuters spoke to said.
This will reduce Pakistan’s objection to India’s abrogating Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019 while Delhi will in turn would refrain from blaming Pakistan for all violence on its side of LOC, according to Reuters.
Pakistan and India have long blamed each other for revolt in Kashmir,
“There is a recognition there will be attacks inside Kashmir, there have been discussions as to how to deal with it and not let this effort derailed by the next attack,” one of the people told Reuters.
There has not been any grand plan to resolve the 74-year-old Kashmir dispute, rather are trying to resolve tensions and pave the way for a broad engagement, Reuters indicated.
“Pakistan is transiting from a geo-strategic domain to a geo-economic domain,” Raoof Hasan, special assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, told Reuters.
“Peace, both within and around with its neighbors, is a key constituent to facilitate that”, Hassan said.