If reports in sections of the Pakistan media are to be believed, the JIT from Pakistan, which arrived with some fanfare to probe the Pathankot air base attack, has said that the attack was something of a false flag operation carried out by India to ‘malign Pakistan”. The report, slated to be submitted to Pak PM Nawaz Sharif, even apparently says that “Indian authorities had prior information about the terrorists” and that the murder of a Muslim NIA officer in UP (who was part of the Indian investigation into the attack) showed that the “Indian establishment wants to keep the matter under wraps.” This might seem extraordinary, but is quite in keeping with the respective positions of India and Pakistan on terror acts within their own, and each other’s, countries. And this only goes to show that instrumentalities like joint investigations and collaboration on combating terror remain mutual hoodwinking, with both sides fully in the know of such mutual deceit. Which, in turn, begs the question: unless and until Kashmir is discussed with a view to its resolution, forms of violence and terror are unfortunately likely to continue.
How does one apportion blame in that case? Not to put too fine a point on it, New Delhi has been seeking to obfuscate the reality and draw new ‘red lines’. Simply, India has been seeking to draw the contours of talks even before any talks are held. For example, in 2014, an Indian MEA spokesperson had, in an interview, suggested that meeting Hurriyat leaders was a “new red line” New Delhi was drawing on engagement with Pakistan. Given all the facts of the Kashmir dispute – from UN resolutions to the history of the insurgency – it seems plain obstructionism to arbitrarily decide on ‘new red lines’. This is not how disputes are settled.
We remain far removed from even basic agreement on resolving Kashmir, the root cause of almost all current strife between the south asian neighbours. So, overall, this is a diplomatic and strategic cat-and-mouse game, where the prospect of talks is like the carrot dangling before two donkeys. Add the key issue of the relevance of the pro-freedom camp and, even larger than that, the actual aspirations of the people of Kashmir and it becomes clear that ignoring Kashmiris will ensure all talks about talks come to naught, and peace will continue to elude our part of the world