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ndo-Pak DGMO Talks: PROGRESS IN PEACE PROCESS, By Prof. Arvind Kumar, 1 January, 2014 Print E-mail

Round The World

1 January 2014, New Delhi

Indo-Pak DGMO Talks


By Prof. Arvind Kumar

(Dept. of Geopolitics & Intl Relations, Manipal Univ)  

The Foreign Office in both Pakistan and India need to be proactive in their approach towards fostering and creating the long-desired bonhomie in the New Year. Since Independence, the relations between the two neighbours have always experienced only downs. Pakistan has consistently been working with a single minded aim to destabilize India. New Delhi, on the other hand, has always made a number of attempts to stabilize and normalize its relationship with Islamabad.


In fact, it must be emphasized here that the number of attempts made by India to restore peace in the region in the past decade-and-half in particular signifies its seriousness. However, Pakistan most of the time keeps itself engaged in its State’s policy of cross-border terrorism despite it and has itself now become a victim of such policies over the years.


As is well-known, the situation across India-Pakistan border has never been normal. It has been marred by constant skirmishes, firing across the Line of Control (LoC) and to a greater extent the situation sometime has gone from bad to worse. The behavioural patterns and fundamental goals of Pakistan have never been in consonance with the region’s interest. The peace process has not made any success and by and large it has been stalled.


However, the stalled progress on the meeting between the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) of both India and Pakistan finally saw a breakthrough recently, at least symbolically. The DGMOs of both the countries had not met since 1999. Undeniably, the situation across the Indo-Pak border warranted that such talks at the DGMOs level get resumed.


The Indian DGMO Lt-Gen Vinod Bhatia met his counterpart, Pakistan’s Maj-Gen Aamir Riaz at a flag-meeting centre located at a forward military post near the Line of Control Trade Centre at the Pakistani side of the Wagah border. This has certainly been seen as a significant step towards diffusing tension but apparently there seems to be a lack of consistency between rhetoric and actions on part of Islamabad.


The volatile situation on the LoC has been witnessing a series of violent skirmishes the past year, 2013, that resulted in the loss of lives of the soldiers from both sides. Both New Delhi and Islamabad have repeatedly accused each other of violating the LoC ceasefire agreement reached between the two in 2003. It nearly turns out to be a routine affair.


Apparently, the India-Pakistan DGMOs’ meeting was a bi-product of the interaction between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting at New York in September 2013. During the interactions, it was realized that there had been an intensification of skirmishes across the border. Accordingly, the two leaders had agreed to establish military contacts through the hotline as well as personal meetings to diffuse the tension.


It has been realized by Islamabad and it may only be at the rhetoric level that the cordial relations are in the interest of the people of the two countries. Both the nations assert that the sanctity of the ceasefire agreement between them must be respected at all costs. The DGMO-level talks between India and Pakistan was held mainly to demonstrate a commitment from both sides that maintaining truce along the Line of Control is essential and would be in the interest of the region. Both the countries need to realize with seriousness that there is no alternative to peace. However, the conducive environment and atmosphere especially from Pakistani side would be required to maintain truce across India-Pakistan borders.


There were lot of expectations from the first, long-awaited meeting between the DGMO of Pakistan and India. However, the mechanisms to ensure ceasefire on the LoC were not critically reviewed. These do exist but a commitment from the Pakistani side was needed especially in the context of maintaining the sanctity of the LoC. This was the first time that DGMOs from the two nuclear-armed neighbours held face-to-face talks. One brigadier from each side and three lieutenant colonels were also present at the meeting.


The DGMOs talks should have emphasized on the specific issues and subjects of contention in India-Pakistan relations especially from the border security point of view. The critical examination of the ground reality would have helped in finding ways to strengthen the mechanisms to ensure ceasefire on the LoC.  In fact, it could have been significant and vital to revisit some of the subjects of Indo-Pak relations and constant skirmishes at the border.

The two joints statements that were issued talk about being constructive and forward-looking. However, these forward looking moves can only be realized when Pakistan is serious and genuinely committed about it. There is certainly a responsibility from both sides to maintain peace across the region.


The larger issue between India and Pakistan, mainly dealing with terrorism needs to be addressed if any of these constructive talks are going to yield the desired results. Islamabad cannot afford any more to keep repeating the past mistakes of promoting terrorism. It has to address these issues for its own benefit and security. Undeniably, over the years, Pakistan has become a victim of its own State’s policies and in that respect it requires to address and make an unequivocal commitment that it would be seriously interested in getting rid of this growing menace.


Undoubtedly, Indo-Pak relations need to see a quantum shift in the approaches from both sides. Unless and until, Pakistan genuinely believes in normalization of relationship with India, nothing tangible can be expected and such talks will be seen as ‘talks for the sake of talks’. On the other hand, if India desires to evolve a mutual understanding with Pakistan, it too needs to accommodate Pakistan’s interests in the region. India-Pakistan relationship can prosper only when there is a growing realization of each others’ importance and significance in the region and among the comity of nations. Will 2014 witness a welcome change? --- INFA


(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)




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