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India-Pakistan Dialogue: Promoting Multi-Track Diplomacy.

Byline: Shariful Islam

From history, it is observed that, the colonial masters provided independence to the independence seeking countries but with lingering issues so that they are always in a state of conflicts. In international politics, it is so-called divide-rule policy which works as means in upholding interests of the big powers. Unfortunately, South Asia is not an exception of it's. South Asian countries got independence with some unresolved conflictual issues like border sharing disputes, water sharing disputes etc. Unresolved Kashmir issue is a case in this regard. But, isn't time has come to resolve the crisis? This article tries to explore that why India-Pkistan needs to promote multi- track diplomacy? This also looks into the achievements of multi-track diplomacy in minimizing the gaps/ differences between India and Pakistan.

Track-II, Track-III channels provide a ground for debates and discussions in order to provide contributions to policy design, policy implementation and policy monitoring in the government level to resolve not only the common but also the bilateral problems. In this backdrop, People-to-People connectivity is of utmost importance between India and Pakistan. We are stuck here with the age-old idea of national security. We need to focus on person-to-person connectivity since when interdependence reaches a critical mass and when people on both sides have regular and direct communication; it becomes difficult for the politicians to reverse this flow.

Relations between Pakistan and India may be accurately defined in terms of enduring rivalry compounded by images of each other as enemies so that zero-sum calculations become the basis of decisions where the "other" is involved. And, it is seen that, very often formal diplomacy broke down between these countries. Unfortunately, very often these countries are not even in speaking terms.

So, the failure of the Track-I process to bring about a resolution of the Indo-Pakistan conflict in the last six decades has led to the opening up the Track-II, III channel of diplomacy. As the Track-I process broke down following the aftermath of the Kargil war and the 2002-2003 military stand-off, citizen diplomacy so called Track-II, III gained significance. So, Track-II, III channel is also imperative in war time when state level interaction/ cooperation remains at a stagnant state.

In this backdrop, it is pertinent to refer that over the past three decades, as governments in India and Pakistan have developed nuclear weapons, pursued a ruinous arms race, fought wars, and fomented one crisis after another, activists in the two countries have mobilized to make the case for peace and cooperation (Zia Mian 2012). An amazing people-to-people dialogue has taken shape and is emerging as an important new social movement in India and Pakistan.of 25 people from the two countries meeting together in Lahore, Pakistan. By providing an opportunity to thousands of concerned citizens of India and Pakistan to develop a basic understanding of each other, it has been involved in efforts to stop the official policies of demonization of the 'other'. (Asma-ul-Husna Faiz 2007).

In these days, its joint convention, held alternately in Pakistan and India, is the largest regular gathering of citizens of the two countries. The conventions bring together many hundreds of people from India and Pakistan to discuss ways to eliminate nuclear weapons and reduce military spending, settle the Kashmir dispute that has led the countries into three wars, tackle religious fundamentalism and terrorism, and prevent education systems from promoting a national identity based on hostility towards the neighbor across the border.

Allahabad Decleration (2011) of the PIPFPD is one of the greatest achievements of Track II diplomacy. The 8th Joint Convention of the Pakistan India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) held in Allahabad from 29-31 December 2011, note with concern that the relationship between India and Pakistan has deteriorated since the last convention, which took place in New Delhi from 25-28 February 2005. The past seven years have seen the Mumbai terror attacks and a continuing assault on Pakistani sovereignty by NATO forces headed by the United States.

Against this backdrop, it has become incumbent on the peoples of the two countries to restore India-Pakistan friendship and revive the cooperative relationship that prevailed twelve years ago. The Convention pledges to reinforce democracy, ensure socio-economic justice and defend the security as well as the right to life and livelihood of the peoples of the two countries.

The Forum is of the firm opinion that the problem of Kashmir must be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people on both sides of the Line of Control. One of the most positive developments in this convention was the substantial presence and active participation of members of the political class and civil society from all parts of Kashmir. The working group on Kashmir specifically demanded an immediate end to the violation of human rights on all sides; unrestricted travel across the Line of Control; opening of communication channels and travel routes; the enhancement of trade relations and people to people contacts with an emphasis on students and youth; the demilitarization of both Kashmirs; an immediate withdrawal of forces from Siachen and its declaration as a peace zone; and the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The working group also recommended the establishment of a joint forum for peace and democracy of the peoples of both Kashmirs.

The writer is student of Deptt of International Relations, South Asian University, New Delhi.
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Author:Islam, Shariful
Publication:The Diplomatic Insight
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Aug 31, 2012
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