Saturday, June 3, 2023

India says no talks with Pakistan over Kashmir

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Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati
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Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif called for discussions with India earlier this week to address “burning issues such as Kashmir.”

New Delhi, in response to Pakistan’s suggestion to resume talks with India, Said the atmosphere for dialogue is not conducive yet.

 “India’s position has remained clear and consistent. We desire normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in a conducive atmosphere that is free of terror, hostility, and violence,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said during a news briefing on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in an interview with Al Arabiya news channel, called for talks with India Modi to hold sincere talks to resolve the burning issues, including Kashmir.

He said, “My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Modi is that let us sit down at the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues like Kashmir.”

Kashmir remained a burning issue between the two nuclear powers after Pakistan, who have ruled over parts of it since 1947. This issue has become a kind of national pride and strategic one for both sides.

Kashmir Issues 

The Kashmir issue is the legacies of decolonization and the partition of British India into the country of Islamic religion, Pakistan, and Hinduism but a democratic state of India. 

It can be argued that Kashmir has played a significant role in determining both India’s and Pakistan’s foreign policy, and there is no doubt that it has affected every facet of the internal political life of the two countries.

Complete control and access to Kashmir have strategic advantages for both countries. For Pakistan, it would ensure internal “strategic depth” and water security and deny opportunities to India. Since the Indus River passes through the Kashmir part of India to Pakistan and provides water to 2/3rd of the country that the agricultural and cotton industries of Pakistan will demolish.

India’s complete control over Kashmir serves as a land bridge into central Asia, shares a border with Afghanistan, and denies Pakistan a border with China. 

These are why two full-fledged wars, along with several face-offs, have happened since 1947 between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. However, since both India and Pakistan were equipped with Nuclear weapons in 1998, the shape and size of the conflict transformed into low-intensity conflicts such as Kargil in 1999 and another military standoff. As a result, the war brought more misery, poverty, and unemployment to the people of both countries. 

Moreover, on August 5 2019, India revoked the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, which was granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan reacted against the revocation of the Article and called it an injustice.  

The Nuclear Factor in Indo-Pakistan Conflict

The endogenous issue, along with the conflict over Kashmir between Pakistan and India, shapes the national security priorities of both states. The enmity between both countries found its ultimate manifestation in the explosion of the nuclear bomb by India on May 11, 1998, and May 13, 1998, followed by Pakistan on May 28, 1998, and May 30, 1998, in the same year. The explosion drew international condemnation from both countries. 

Pakistan was decisive in acquiring nuclear power and began to seriously pursue its covert nuclear weapons program in the aftermath of the 1971 conflict, which resulted in Bangladesh becoming an independent nation-state.

Based on armed forces and global firepower (2020), it is said that India has always insisted on maintaining a “no first use” nuclear policy. It was estimated to have 150 nuclear weapons as of 2020, but as far as Pakistan is concerned, it refused to adopt a “no first use” and has 160 warheads. Experts believe that the nuclear power of both countries has increased the deterrence mechanism for a full-fledged conventional war, and it is vigilant to avoid conventional conflict.

 Insurgent groups in the Region 

Terrorism is a destabilizing factor in the South Asian Region. The injustice, poverty, and ethnic commonalities can be the primary factors and pave the ground for the Region’s fundamentalism. However, the regional upheaval would not take place without the damaging role of General Zia-ul-Haq, (stated by former Indian Prime Minister I.K. Gujral).

This started with the proxy war against the Soviet Russia invasion of Afghanistan, creating the perfect storm for regional chaos and the strengthening of extremism.

The United States of America and Saudi Arabia backed Zia’s policy. Ahmad Rashid, a Pakistani Journalist, writes: “In the 1980s, the USA was prepared ‘to fight till the last Afghan to get even with the Soviet Union, but when the Soviet left, Washington was not prepared to help bring peace or feed a hungry people. Regional powers took advantage of the US retreat’s political vacuum, saw an opportunity to wield influence, and jumped into the fray”.

Subsequently, the period of state failure led to the birth of other extremist groups in Afghanistan. Pakistan officials consider these viable groups allies who could help them further their regional ambitions and decrease Indian influence in Afghanistan. 

India and Pakistan indulged in an unending conflict over Kashmir for more than seven decades. The people of both countries and the Region suffer from the adversary. On the other hand, expert says that the issue of Kashmir has also been turned into internal electoral politics to divert public opinion from the mainstream issues in the country.

The proposed suggestion also came when Pakistan suffered severely from the financial crisis, increased fundamentalist groups and other internal issues.

Furthermore, the two neighbours are now nuclear weapons powers, making it impossible for them to fight wars like the ones in 1947, 1965, and 1971. However, it can still be the main disputing issue between both sides.

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