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April 16, 2018

Pakistan looking to keep the Kashmir pot boiling


New Delhi, April 16: With tensions in Jammu and Kashmir boiling over in the past few weeks, the recent truce between India and Pakistan after a diplomatic row could fizzle out without any substantive engagement between the two countries.
According to sources here, Islamabad's decision to delay visas for a team of medical experts and also Pakistan Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif’s decision to call off a meeting with Indian envoy Ajay Bisaria this week were both attempts by Pakistan to keep unrest in the Valley smouldering.

Bisaria had an appointment with Shehbaz for Sunday but the meeting was cancelled by the CM at the last moment and without officially giving any reason. Bisaria was forced to call off his visit to Pakistan Punjab after that. In a tweet on Thursday, Shehbaz had accused India of "worst human rights violations" which, he said, must prick the world’s conscience. Indian officials here expressed strong disapproval over the manner in which the meeting was cancelled just before Bisaria was to leave for Lahore.

India had earlier also sought visas for a team of doctors and medical experts to allow them to visit Pakistan and examine mentally unsound Indian prisoners. These Indian prisoners have been awaiting repatriation since the two countries arrived at an understanding last month for their release.

Bisaria had discussed the issue in his recent meeting with Pakistan NSA Nasser Janjua. Pakistan, however, is yet to issue visas to the doctors. "It seems Pakistan wants to keep the Kashmir pot boiling allowing nothing to shift the focus away," said an official here. Pakistan PM Shahid Abbasi had raised the same issue with UNSG Antonio Guterres in a meeting last week accusing India of inflicting "atrocities" on Kashmir.

In his meeting with Janjua, Bisaria had said that the 2 countries had immense potential to improve their relationship and cater to each other’s needs. It has been India’s view since the 2 countries amicably resolved the issue of harassment of diplomats by reviving a 1992 Code of Conduct that small issues like visits by medical experts, trade representatives and also exchange of prisoners be facilitated first. Bisaria had told Janjua that these were small steps which the 2 countries could take to move towards normalcy before addressing major outstanding issues.

With Pakistan likely to go to polls in July though, the Indian side isn’t expecting any big breakthrough in bilateral ties. The government believes that Pakistan still hasn’t done enough to check cross-border terrorism and that in these circumstances there cannot be any substantive dialogue with Islamabad. While India wants small steps first, Pakistan, despite the prevailing political uncertainty, is insisting on "comprehensive and meaningful dialogue".

Courtesy: www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com




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