General Studies Paper 2
Context: A former Special Envoy has confirmed in his book that the agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, was ready to be signed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President General Musharraf. But, the stand-off in Pakistan with the judiciary and the 26/11 attacks in 2008 has halted its progress.
What are some facts about the proposed agreement on LoC?
- The agreement proposed a “4-point solution” and a “14 point set of guidelines” for any settlement between the two countries. It includes free flow of trade, ending cross border terrorism, respect for human rights, and bringing down military presence on both sides of the LoC.
- The Line of Control has to be respected like a normal border between the two countries.
What is the current situation of the bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan?
- A series of terror attacks,from Mumbai to Pathankot and Pulwama has spoiled the relationship. The reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, and the amendment to Article 370 have made it difficult for any Pakistani leader to propose a restoration of ties.
- There are no political contacts at any level, no trade, no direct travel links and no High Commissioners in each other’s countries.
What are the steps taken by the current government for the normalisation of relations with Pakistan?
- Prime Minister continued to seek engagement with Islamabad even after the several setbacks,
- Backchannel talks are believed to run between National Security Adviser and Pakistani intelligence. It focuses on preventing hostilities. The LoC ceasefire agreement of 2021 was the result of it.
- The two sides have also discussed measures that would lead to the restorationof statehood and elections in J&K, the reappointment of High Commissioners and the restoration of visas and people-to-people ties.
- These include initiatives such as the Kartarpur Corridor and the proposed Sharda Peeth Corridor across the temple in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’s Neelum Valley.
- The next step would be to revisit the nearly ready agreement of 15 years ago.
Do the recent moves by the Indian government on J&K have an impact on relations between India and Pakistan?
- New Delhi’s moves to revoke J&K’s special status and Statehood did not change the basis for a settlement of the J&K dispute. Article 370 was always a temporary provision, and diluted over the decades. It was never recognised by Pakistan. Article 35(A) has had little to no effect in changing demography thus far.
- The move on gender parity in property inheritance had already been implemented in 2002. The move related to downgrading the State to a Union Territory will be reversed.
What is the way forward for India in its relationship with Pakistan?
- Unjust arrests and a continuing security crackdown on politicians and civil society in J&K should be stopped. There is a need to relook at measures like internet bans and a stringent lockdown, targeting of journalists and human rights violations.
- There is a need to end cross-border terrorism from Pakistan that the people of J&K, have suffered from for decades.
- Despite the precarious situation within J&K, the LoC has been more or less stable for more than half a century. Any military operation by either India or Pakistan to reclaim the other side is unlikely to make much headway.
- Pakistan is facing internal crises.China at the Line of Actual Control is a bigger challenge for India. So, India needs a more stable Line of Control.
- Revisiting the agreement on LoC about a decade and a half ago is eventually the only way forward.