Tensions continue to escalate between India and Pakistan, after recent remarks from Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the peace talks between the nations was on hold in the wake of Mumbai attacks. His Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi has expressed regret about Mukherjee’s remarks but insisted that he was optimistic relations between the two nations would improve soon.
Last month's attacks in Mumbai killed over 170 people
The attack on India’s financial hub Mumbai last month has proven little short of disastrous to diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan. The peace process, initiated in 2004, seems to have been put on the backburner, as Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters earlier this week, “There is a pause in the composite dialogue process because of the attack on Mumbai and we expect Pakistan to fulfil its commitment”.
Relations between India and Pakistan have witnessed many ups and down over the past decade. The two nuclear-armed neighbours came to the brink of war in 2002 following an attack on the Indian parliament a year before by militants, India accuses of having Pakistani links.
Ties could only start warming up after several rounds of negotiations and after the two sides pledged to seriously embark on a peace process.
But last month’s attacks in Mumbai have changed the scenario once again. Indian officials claim the attackers were trained on Pakistani soil and sent by a Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT.
Pakistan asked to do more
New Delhi now insists relations with Pakistan will not improve unless Islamabad takes firmer action to stamp out the militants on its soil.
Promising co-operation, Pakistan launched a crackdown on an Islamist charity suspected to have links with LeT and arrested scores of its activists. But many in India see Pakistan’s response as mere sham.
If you remember, after the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, Pakistan did the same thing, some camps were raided, it put certain people under house arrest and after two months they were released. That’s why India is asking them to hand over certain militants, who are using Pakistani soil to launch attacks on India,“ explains D Suba Chandran, an expert from New Delhi based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
Talat Wizarat, an expert on South Asian affairs at the University of Karachi insists Pakistan’s efforts shouldn’t be underestimated:
“People in Pakistan are blaming the government, saying that India has not provided proofs and despite that Pakistani government is taking actions against these people.“
The five year old bilateral talks, also known as the composite dialogue led to improvement in people-to people contacts and the boosting of road and rail links. Though there was hardly any progress on contentious issues such as the disputed border region and differences over the region of Kashmir, the atmosphere was calm.
Wizarat warns if the peace process halts the damage will be huge for both countries. “In this kind of environment one little thing can lead to bad repercussions and that will be very unfortunate”.
Amid brewing diplomatic tensions, the leadership in India have once again ruled out that they will pursue any military confrontation.