AIRLINK 78.61 Increased By ▲ 5.08 (6.91%)
BOP 4.65 Decreased By ▼ -0.02 (-0.43%)
CNERGY 4.03 Increased By ▲ 0.02 (0.5%)
DFML 36.48 Increased By ▲ 0.39 (1.08%)
DGKC 88.25 Increased By ▲ 1.70 (1.96%)
FCCL 22.29 Increased By ▲ 0.31 (1.41%)
FFBL 30.15 Increased By ▲ 0.14 (0.47%)
FFL 9.18 No Change ▼ 0.00 (0%)
GGL 9.92 Increased By ▲ 0.06 (0.61%)
HASCOL 6.11 Decreased By ▼ -0.14 (-2.24%)
HBL 105.00 Decreased By ▼ -0.01 (-0.01%)
HUBC 137.50 Increased By ▲ 0.05 (0.04%)
HUMNL 10.65 Decreased By ▼ -0.10 (-0.93%)
KEL 4.64 Increased By ▲ 0.15 (3.34%)
KOSM 4.00 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.25%)
MLCF 37.13 Increased By ▲ 0.43 (1.17%)
OGDC 119.19 Decreased By ▼ -0.21 (-0.18%)
PAEL 23.98 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.04%)
PIBTL 6.07 Increased By ▲ 0.02 (0.33%)
PPL 114.05 Increased By ▲ 1.55 (1.38%)
PRL 23.17 Increased By ▲ 0.36 (1.58%)
PTC 12.20 Increased By ▲ 0.30 (2.52%)
SEARL 59.05 Increased By ▲ 0.65 (1.11%)
SNGP 61.98 Increased By ▲ 0.87 (1.42%)
SSGC 9.76 Increased By ▲ 0.11 (1.14%)
TELE 7.67 Increased By ▲ 0.12 (1.59%)
TPLP 9.48 Decreased By ▼ -0.06 (-0.63%)
TRG 63.72 Increased By ▲ 0.62 (0.98%)
UNITY 26.85 Increased By ▲ 0.05 (0.19%)
WTL 1.30 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.78%)
BR100 7,583 Increased By 39.5 (0.52%)
BR30 24,238 Increased By 202.6 (0.84%)
KSE100 72,797 Increased By 207.9 (0.29%)
KSE30 23,213 Increased By 76.4 (0.33%)

NEW DELHI: Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, people with close knowledge of the matter told Reuters in Delhi.

Later that year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir's autonomy in order to tighten his grip over the territory, provoking outrage in Pakistan and the downgrading of diplomatic ties and suspension of bilateral trade.

But the two governments have re-opened a back channel of diplomacy aimed at a modest roadmap to normalising ties over the next several months, the people said.

Officials from India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the external spy agency, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) travelled to Dubai for a meeting facilitated by the United Arab Emirates government, two people said.

The Indian foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Pakistan's military, also did not respond.

But Ayesha Siddiqa, a top Pakistani defence analyst, said she believed Indian and Pakistan intelligence officials had 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," she said.

'IT IS FRAUGHT'

Such meetings have taken place in the past too, especially during times of crises but never been publicly acknowledged.

"There is a lot that can still go wrong, it is fraught," said one of the people in Delhi. "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," one of them said.

Both countries have reasons to seek a rapprochement. India has been locked in a border stand-off with China since last year and does not want the military stretched on the Pakistan front.

China-ally Pakistan, mired in economic difficulties and on an IMF bailout programme, can ill-afford heightened tensions on the Kashmir border for a prolonged period, experts say. It also has to stabilise the Afghan border on its west as the United States withdraws.

"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 war on the frontiers of Kashmir.

"...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."

DIALLING DOWN THE RHETORIC

Following the January meeting, India and Pakistan announced they would stop cross-border shooting along the Line of Control (LoC). That ceasefire is holding, military officials in both countries said.

Both sides have also signalled plans to hold elections IN Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) and Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K) this year as part of efforts to bring normalcy to a region riven by decades of bloodshed.

The two have also agreed to dial down their rhetoric, the people Reuters spoke to said.

This would include Pakistan dropping its loud objections to Modi abrogating Kashmir's autonomy in August 2019, while Delhi in turn would refrain from blaming Pakistan for all violence on its side of the Line of Control.

These details have not been previously reported. India has long blamed Pakistan for the revolt in IIOJ&K, an allegation denied by Pakistan.

"There is a recognition there will be attacks inside Kashmir, there has been discussions as to how to deal with it and not let this effort derailed by the next attack," one of the people said.

There is as yet, however, no grand plan to resolve the 74-year-old Kashmir dispute. Rather both sides are trying to reduce tensions to pave the way for a broad engagement, all the people Reuters spoke to said.

"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 neighbours, is a key constituent to facilitate that."

Comments

Comments are closed.