Return to the negotiating table

The downward spiral in India-Pakistan relationship seems to be getting ominously out of control. Ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) is a thing of the past now. The latest spate of cross-LoC and cross-international border hostilities between the two countries is consuming precious lives on both sides of the border. At least four civilians were killed on the Pakistani side of Kashmir on Monday, with more fatalities on the Indian side on Tuesday. As what has been emphasized before, this seriously evolving situation could lead to a string of escalations, which might get out of hand. Both India and Pakistan need to understand and acknowledge that there is little or no incentive for the international community for the maintenance of peace in South Asia. Despite New Delhi's hectic efforts in mobilizing global support in its favor, it is now more than clear that the international community for their own preoccupations with the multiple events happening across the globe has shown little interest in paying attention. Similarly, despite Islamabad's sustained efforts in garnering global support to its position on Kashmir, there has been no real and substantive support for its cause either. All this should have dawned to the two countries before too long now. While New Delhi has an immediate task of addressing Kashmir's current situation with substantial political measures, both New Delhi and Islamabad have to engage at the bilateral level to address the external dimensions of the Kashmir issue. Even as the current situation of jingoism and war hysteria might benefit the government in power in Delhi in the upcoming Assembly elections, it is a highly ominous path to take. While there are reasonable indications that Islamabad has handled the strong calls for supporting another wave of armed movement in Kashmir with greater foresight and maturity, it must continue to take that course. It must also provide substantive proposals of de-escalation to New Delhi so as not to leave any room for uncertainty and misunderstanding. The current situation demands a cool-headed and serious attention. There is no alternative to dialogue.

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