Imran Khan wants dialogue over Kashmir. Here’s what India has to say

By Elton Gomes

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Monday, called for talks with India to resolve the Kashmir issue. Khan’s remarks came a day after six civilians died when an explosive went off at an encounter site in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.

“Strongly condemn the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris….by Indian security forces,” Khan said in a tweet.

Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party seems keen to make progress in its relations with India. A reason for this could be Pakistan’s crippling financial crisis. The lack of dialogue between the two countries could mean that Pakistan faces a risk of isolation from its neighbours. Things might be looking up a bit, especially after PM Khan was able to secure an aid package worth $6 billion from Saudi Arabia

In a separate statement, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the international community should take note of the countless human rights violations in Kashmir.

In his victory speech after the July elections, Khan said that his government would like to resolve all disputes with India, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks.

How did India respond?

India slammed Khan’s tweet and called his comments “deeply regrettable”. The Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “Instead of making comments on India ‘s internal affairs, Pakistan leadership should look inwards and address its own issues,” the Indian Express reported.

“Pakistan would serve the interest of the people of the region by taking credible action against all kind of support to terrorism and terror infrastructure from all territories under its control, rather than supporting and glorifying terrorists and terror activities against India and its other neighbours. Pakistan’s deceitful stand on dialogue, while supporting terror and violence, stands exposed to the whole world,” Kumar said, Live Mint reported.

India summons Pakistan official over the death of soldiers along LoC

India, on Tuesday, summoned a senior official of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. India called the senior official to protest over the deaths of three of its soldiers during an infiltration bid by alleged Pakistani militants in the Sunderbani sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistan High Commission official was summoned to the MEA and a demarche was made. “It was informed that two Pakistani armed intruders have been killed by the Indian security forces during the ensuing firefight and the government of Pakistan should take custody of the dead bodies of its nationals,” the MEA said, according to a PTI report.

India, Pakistan foreign ministers’ meet cancelled

Earlier in September, both India and Pakistan showed signs of reaching a truce after agreeing to hold a meeting of foreign ministers in New York. However, India called off the meeting after alleging that the Pakistan army had killed some of its security personnel on the border.

After a high-level meet held in the Ministry of External Affairs, it was decided that India would not be engaging with Pakistan.

“It is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office,” MEA spokesperson Kumar had said, Dawn reported.  “Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless.”

Imran Khan and India-Pakistan relations

India and Pakistan have been involved in three wars since the end of the British rule in 1947. Two wars were fought over Kashmir, the vast Himalayan territory that is claimed by both.

Initiating peace talks with New Delhi has been an uphill task for Pakistani leaders, particularly since the military enjoys significant control in decisions related to foreign and defence policies.

Many analysts opine that former PM Nawaz Sharif’s decline was due to his strong advocacy for better ties with India. Khan’s anti-India statements led many to believe that India-Pakistan ties could suffer under his leadership. However, Khan now seems to be advocating peace and dialogue as the only way forward.

Experts say that the extent to which Khan can influence Pakistan’s foreign policy will solely depend on what is acceptable to the country’s military.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

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