ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has formally invited India to secretary-level talks on Kashmir.The Foreign Office said in a statement that Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry called on Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale on Monday afternoon and handed over a letter to him that was addressed to his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The letter is an invitation to Jaishankar to visit Pakistan for talks on the Kashmir issue that has been the bone of contention between Pakistan and India for the last several years.
According to the Foreign Office, the letter highlights the international obligation of the two countries, Pakistan and India, to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions.
Dr Saeed Ahmed Rid, faculty member at the Quaid-i-Azam University, told Daily Times the environment was surely not ideal for any dialogue considering the spat between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a SAARC conference in Islamabad and the recent exchange of barbs between Pakistani and Indian leaders over Kashmir. “But I hope it still can take place because the [Narendra] Modi government is under a tremendous internal pressure over the situation in Kashmir,” he said.
“The pressure from the Congress and even saner elements in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is increasing on Modi to put some ointment on the bleeding wounds of Kashmir. The Modi government badly needs to show they are doing something for Kashmir. They will surely not say to their domestic audience that they are going to talk about the future of Kashmir with Pakistan because it will mean giving up to the pressure of Pakistan. But they can tell the domestic audience that they are going to talk about the Pakistani infiltration in Kashmir and demand an end to it as a precondition for any progress on talks,” he said.
“I shall not be surprised if the secretary-level talks resume and during the talks both sides agree to revive the composite dialogue that was stalled by the Pathankot airbase attack. Moreover, I can foresee ground being prepared for Modi attending the forthcoming SARRC summit in Islamabad,” Rid said.
“As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, we dedicate this Independence Day to the independence of Kashmir,” Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit said at the flag-hoisting ceremony at the mission on Pakistan’s Independence Day on Sunday. Three days ago, Pakistan suggested an exclusive dialogue with India on Kashmir after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Azad Kashmir belonged to India.