The Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Gautam Bambewale delivered the message of Delhi’s willingness to talk in response to the invitation by the foreign secretary of Pakistan, Aizaz Chaudhry to his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar. However, India is hoping to keep the focus of talks only limited to the issue of cross border terrorism, on the other hand aim of Pakistan is to start the dialogue with the Kashmir issue.
But looking at the recent strained relations and the fact that both countries have mooted a very different agenda for potential discussions, there seems grim hope of positive outcome from this initiative. If both states are unable to be on the same page regarding the agenda of dialogue then it seems hard that process would be a step forward to ease the existing bilateral tension.
It is a welcoming move that backdoor diplomatic channels are operating and creating chances for bilateral talks. But both countries need to take a step forward and initiate dialogue on all the bilateral issues one after another. There is need to work on trust building in the initial process which would build the atmosphere to talk on other serious issues. Currently it seems that both countries are more focused on scoring political points, stance of Pakistan to indulge in talks centered on the Kashmir dispute sends signal domestically that government is challenging India and on other side India pushing for cross border terrorism to please anti-Pakistan sentiments in the country.
If either side tries to exclude the other’s central concern from bilateral talks, it will not get anywhere near its core policy objectives. But it is reality that Kashmir dispute remains fundamental between the two countries.
If both states are unable to be on the same page regarding agenda of dialogue, success chances seem grim.