India and Pakistan to begin talks but critics are sceptical

The nuclear-armed neighbours have been to war three times since 1947

 

India and Pakistan’s national security advisers are, for the first time, scheduled to hold talks over the weekend in New Delhi in an effort to kickstart the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The meeting between Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval follows an agreement between their respective prime ministers on the sidelines of a regional summit in July in the Russian city of Ufa, capital of Bashkortostan republic.

These deliberations will be taking place against the backdrop of their two armies trading mortar, rocket and small arms fire on a daily basis across their disputed frontier in the northern Kashmir province, which is divided between the two but claimed by both since Pakistan’s independence in 1947.

More than 20 people, including soldiers, paramilitary personnel and civilians, have died in these firefights on either side of the Line of Control over the past few weeks, ratcheting up tension in the region.

Skirmish

Pakistan

Meanwhile, there is widespread scepticism over the outcome of the national security advisers meeting, with a number of Indian and foreign diplomats, security officials and analysts pessimistic.

“After exchanging pleasantries, the two NSAs [advisers] will confront each other with evidence of sponsoring terrorism and armed unrest in each other’s country,” said a senior Indian diplomat, declining to be named.

Perpetrators

India holds Pakistan’s inter-service intelligence directorate responsible for training and sending the 10 gunmen who arrived in Mumbai by boat, and besieged two hotels and a nearby Jewish cultural centre, for nearly three days in November 2008.

Some 165 people, including nine terrorists, died in the strike after which several Pakistanis, under Indian and US pressure were arrested but – to India’s frustration – have been subsequently freed.

India also blames Pakistan for fuelling the Muslim insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir since 1989 that has claimed over 50,000 lives.

Islamabad denies the allegations, but admits it is committed to providing diplomatic and political support to Kashmiri separatists fighting for a Muslim homeland.

Pakistan, in turn, accuses India of backing the enduring separatist movement in its western Baluchistan province, bordering Iran.

India dismisses this accusation, in what has become an endless trading of charges and counter-charges amid escalating violence in both countries.