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  Opinion   Edit  25 Jul 2017  India-Pak talks: No scope for third party

India-Pak talks: No scope for third party

Published : Jul 25, 2017, 1:33 am IST
Updated : Jul 25, 2017, 1:38 am IST

Islamabad needlessly makes a noise about foreign intervention but well knows what the result of that might be.

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah (Photo: PTI/File)
 Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah (Photo: PTI/File)

In Kashmir, even senior politicians occasionally say things in order to remain relevant. Such outbursts are generally tilted against the Centre. Part of the reason is that they believe such a stance would go down well with the public in an area where alienation is high, and sympathy for next-door “Muslim Pakistan” not unknown in pockets that usually get mixed up in supporting insurgent behaviour.

Sometimes, there may be another reason — the perception of threat from “the gun”, or a political leader’s sense of being targeted by terrorists. To appease such elements, an “anti-India” observation may be made.

We cannot be sure which was the case when former chief minister Farooq Abdullah recently advised that either the US or China could be asked to mediate to settle the Kashmir question with Pakistan.

It was surprising that such a seasoned political leader (of any party) should be saying something so amateurish which is contrary to the long-settled Indian view that India and Pakistan must discuss any problems between them — including Kashmir — bilaterally, and not seek third-party mediation, including that of the United Nations (in the light of experience).

This understanding is at the heart of the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration, although from time to time Pakistan pretends these do not exit and gives an open call for foreign mediation, which amounts to foreign meddling. Domestically embattled Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, in fact, made the same appeal to the international community recently. By implication, then, Mr Abdullah is guilty of peddling the Pakistani line (in respect of which the Chinese were recently solicitous, confronted with a military standoff with India in the Doklam area).

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was quite right to put Mr Abdullah right. Omar Abdullah, the senior Abdullah’s son and also a former CM, criticised Mr Gandhi on Twitter, defending his father’s right to “free speech”. It will be interesting to see if the younger Mr Abdullah will shoot a bolt at Mehbooba Mufti, the current CM, also. Unlike Mr Gandhi, she is as homegrown a Kashmiri as the Abdullahs, and therein lies the significance of her repartee to the senior Mr Abdullah.

The CM referred to the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. Expressing herself graphically, she pointed out that wherever the US had intervened — she mentioned in this context Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria — had proved to be thumping disasters. For months, Ms Mufti had done or said things that were unhelpful or unpopular. But what she has said now are wise words. Not only should Mr Abdullah take note, but also Pakistan. Islamabad needlessly makes a noise about foreign intervention but well knows what the result of that might be. If Pakistan can rid itself of military rule, it can be sure that bilateral talks will bear fruit.

Tags: farooq abdullah, nawaz sharif, rahul gandhi, india-pak talks, muslim pakistan