Friday September 17, 2021

EU urged to play a role on Kashmir

Islamabad : Renowned British historian Prof Ian Talbot urged the Government of Pakistan to explore its relations with the European Union for facilitating a dialogue with India on Kashmir.

Prof Talbot was speaking at a webinar organised by Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) here Wednesday.

Prof Talbot, however, said that any external actor could only facilitate a dialogue process for which there was a will on both sides. He was of the view that the EU could no longer pass on the responsibility related to issues like Kashmir to Great Britain and British external influence which had diminished since Brexit.

The author of ‘A History of Modern South Asia and Pakistan: A New History’ regretted that the immense potential of South Asia was held hostage to India-Pakistan rivalry. Terming Kashmir the core issue and flashpoint in the relations between India and Pakistan, he called for its resolution. He also termed it multidimensional and multi-layered and, thus, difficult to resolve.

Prof Talbot urged greater involvement of Kashmiris in any dialogue process on the future of Kashmir and alleviation of their plight to help in easing some of the fixed stances on the Indian and Pakistani sides. “Any resolution has to be acceptable to the Kashmiris,” he said. However, he expressed his concern over the lack of trust and political will in the two capitals to move past the status quo on Kashmir.

He was of the view that the volatility in India-Pakistan relations had increased since the coming into power of the more belligerent BJP government in India and some other developments in the region like the uncertainty arising out of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Indo-Chinese border tensions, and the Indo-US partnership for containment of China. He urged Pakistan to take the initiative in resolving outstanding disputes with India, especially Kashmir.

Commenting on August 5, 2019, actions of the Indian government on Kashmir, Prof Talbot was of the opinion that India had created an untenable situation for itself as well as the people of Kashmir with those changes. He called for creating conditions for India and Pakistan to work together on common challenges such as climate change, pandemic response, etc. “There has got to be opportunities for working together to get past the longstanding divides,” he added.

Nadeem Riyaz, President, IRS, regretted the stalemate in the India-Pakistan relations, especially after the revocation of the special status of Kashmir under the Indian Constitution. He reiterated that Pakistan desired cordial relations with all its neighbouring countries including India. He lamented, however, that the political will to resolve disputes with Pakistan was lacking on the Indian side.

Dr. Shaheen Akhtar from National Defence University and Dr. Salma Malik from Quaid-i-Azam University also spoke on the occasion.