New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) Terrorism remains the biggest hindrance to ties between India and Pakistan, the Parliament’s standing committee on External Affairs has said and recommended that New Delhi adopt a National Security Framework if a solution has to be found.
“The enduring aspect of the India-Pakistan relationship has been the persistence of mutual antagonism, mnistrust and conflict,” the Committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, a former junior External Affairs Miniser, said in its report tabled in parliament on Friday.
“However, the larger truth that makes this relationship important for both the sides is the geographical contiguity of the two countries and long shaped history,” it said.
It mentioned that the relationship has witnessed many ups and downs through four wars, numerous ceasefire violations and crises.
Stating that peace between the two sides remained elusive despite numerous efforts for dialogue, it said: “The biggest hindrance in smooth ties between India and Pakistan has been Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy to destabilise India in general and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular. There is a growing realisation among the international community about Pakistan being the epicentre of terrorism in the world.”
According to the report, Pakistan’s strategy of deniability and claiming equivalence as victim of terrorism appears nothing but an alibi for its inaction.
“Pakistani sponsored terrorism is not only a major threat to India but also to the entire region,” it said.
Another reason for the continued hostility and suspicion between the two sides is the competing and conflicting territorial claims.
“While Siachen and Sir Creek are unsettled territorial disputes, Pakistan’s unsupported claim to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been constant irritation to successive Indian governments,” the report said.
It also referred to Pakistan’s deep state – a reference to its army and the ISI – and said it has vested interests in the continuation of the proxy war.
“The military establishment’s self-interest remains the key factor behind the continuity in hindrances to peace,” it stated.
Another major impediment has been inadequate economic, cultural and civilisational links.
“Instead of expanding people-to-people contacts through visa relaxation, religious tourism, music, sports and arts, there has been contraction in cultural exchanges between people-to-people in all spheres of their lives,” the report said.
Stating that the absence of a structured dialogue was another stumbling block, it said that though the two sides agreed in 2015 to have a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, the Pathankot terrorist attacks last year put it on hold. It said both sides needed to internalise the lessons from the past and act accordingly.
It also referred to the growing nexus between China and Pakistan for the problems in the region.
“The growing nexus between China and Pakistan in the form of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), increasing military, nuclear and missile development cooperation as well as the prevention of UN sanctions on Pakistani sponsored terrorist outfits is adding to the complexity of the security dilemma in the region,” the report said.
“Parts of the CPEC pass through PoK, which is part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that is under illegal occupation of Pakistan. This has added to the security and sovereignty concerns off India.”
In its road map for the future, the report said that “a quick solution between the two over their post-Independence conflicts appears unlikely, until the various implements to their relationship are not addressed”.
“It is now widely acknowledged that bilateral dialogue in accordance with the Shimla Agreement, reiterated in the Lahore Declaration, is the only agreed upon way to address all bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir,” it stated.
It also said that the onus was on Pakistan to act upon its 2004 commitment of not allowing its territory to be used against India.
“Despite the gloomy predictions about the inevitability of antagonism between India and Pakistan, the Committee is of the strong view that if proper diplomatic channels are taken by both the countries to address the present stumbling block (absence of structured dialogue and if there is more cultural and economic engagement, there is a hope of conflict resolution,” the report stated.
The Committee recommended that the Indian government adopt a a National Security Framework that would spell out the country’s overall strategy and approach.
“The Framework should impart a much needed and coherence and synergy to our policy vis-a-vis Pakistan,” the report said.
“Once this is done the Committee feels that there is a need to widen and deepen cultural, sporting and economic engagement, which in turn would create a more favourable environment for the resolution of bilateral political disputes.”
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