Global Hour

India-Pakistan Relations: Tensions, Multilateral Engagements, and the Role of the United States in Facilitating Constructive Dialogue

The United States has reiterated its support for constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve long-standing disputes. In a press briefing, the US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said that they were willing to support the process in any way that India and Pakistan deemed appropriate. However, he added that ultimately, the decisions would have to be made by the two countries themselves.

The United States, as a key player in the region, has been urging both countries to engage in constructive dialogue and resolve their long-standing disputes. However, the recent developments indicate that the road to peace and stability in the region is fraught with challenges of their own. USA is treading carefully on the issue of the Pakistan relations considering substantial Chinese investments in Pakistan, and a resurgent India flexing its muscle. USA coming in to mediate in Indo-Pak relations has been a constant geopolitical feature, from negotiating Indus Water Treaty in 1960 to offering to mediate on Kashmir issue.

Pakistan has decided to skip the meeting of Chief Justices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) scheduled in New Delhi from March 10-12. The Foreign Office spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, said that Pakistan regularly participates in all SCO activities and constructively contributes to their outcomes. Pakistan is the only country that will be skipping the SCO Chief Justice meeting hosted by India. All other members, including new member Iran, will be attending the meet in person.

India had invited the Pakistani chief justice, but Islamabad took the decision at the last minute not to send the country’s top adjudicator. India has also invited Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for the SCO foreign ministers meeting to be held in Goa in May this year. However, Pakistan has yet to decide whether the foreign minister will attend.

The matter is under consideration, and when the decision is taken, Pakistan will share it with everyone, the Foreign Office spokesperson said. India will also host the SCO summit meeting this year, and it remains to be seen whether Pakistan will send its foreign minister in May or if the prime minister will join the SCO leaders later in India.

The relations between India and Pakistan have been fraught with tension for many years. The recent developments indicate that Pakistan is hesitant to engage with India on a multilateral platform, even as the United States continues to urge both countries to engage in constructive dialogue. It remains to be seen whether the two countries can find a way to resolve their long-standing disputes and improve their relations.

In August 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian-administered part of the disputed region. Pakistan condemned the move and cut off diplomatic ties with India, and the two countries have since been engaged in a war of words, with occasional border skirmishes and terrorist attacks.

India, on the other hand, has been trying to engage with Pakistan on a multilateral platform, including at the SCO and the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) meetings. However, Pakistan has been reluctant to engage with India, citing its concerns over human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The India-Pakistan relationship remains one of the most complex and contentious issues in South Asia. While both countries have shown a willingness to engage in dialogue, there is a lack of trust and a deep-rooted suspicion that needs to be addressed. The involvement of the international community, including the United States and other key players, is crucial in finding a lasting solution to the issue.

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