Indo-Pak back channel parleys gather steam
New Delhi, October 25
The back channel parleys assume significance in view of the upcoming Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks here on November 14 and 15. Such informal interactions often shape official agendas.
Some plus and minus points have emerged in these talks.
A plus point is that the Pakistanis are no longer playing the broken record of harking back to UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, a big diplomatic no-no to New Delhi.
Another plus point is that Pakistani interlocutors do not talk of independence of Kashmir.
A minus point is that the Pakistani negotiators do not want Gilgit and Baltistan to be included in the scope and parameters of talks on Kashmir.
The Indians are not game to this and they are not willing to let go even that part of Jammu and Kashmir which Pakistan had illegally ceded to China in 1963.
Another irritant discussed at the back channel talks is the modus operandi for implementing the Indo-Pak agreement for running an inter-LoC truck service.
As per the understanding reached between the two neighbours, the truck service was to start from July 2006.
Pakistan has not responded to a list of 70 businessmen.
Until this list is finalised, the truck service cannot start.
Indian and Pakistani interlocutors have had several rounds of back channel talks earlier this month in Jammu and Kashmir, where the two sides stuck to stands taken by their respective governments.
The Indian interlocutors focused on the need for evolving a cooperative mechanism and micro-managing resources at district levels.
The Pakistanis harped on joint control of the pre-1947 Jammu and Kashmir, an oft-repeated proposal of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
A problem that has often sprung up during these talks is that there is hardly any difference between informal interlocutors and official delegations from the two sides.
Another point of variance that has emerged at the Indo-Pak back channel talks is that leaders of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) are insistent on visiting Pakistan before the Secretary-level talks.
This issue is like a sore thumb to New Delhi. The Indian interlocutors see the new demand as a red flag and are not agreeable.
More informal talks are likely to take place on this issue soon.