Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security and Strategic Policy, disclosed in an interview with Karan Thapar that India displayed a desire to hold a conversation with Pakistan. He added that we support any conversation that moves us forward. However, he also emphasised that there are three parties to the dispute: Pakistan, India and a principal party called the Kashmiris. The only thing that matters is the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

We wholeheartedly welcome the efforts of Dr Yusuf to include the Kashmiri leadership in the talks. The people of Kashmir will welcome any talks between India and Pakistan as long as the genuine interest of the people of Jammu & Kashmir is the part of process of negotiations. They steadfastly maintain that tripartite talks are the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue that has dominated the South Asian region for over 73 years. This constructive position is held despite the outrage caused and the indescribable suffering inflicted on them, by the barbarities of the Indian occupation forces.

The people of Kashmir want to emphasise that as the dispute involves three parties—the governments of India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir who are the most directly affected—any attempt to strike a deal between two parties, without the association of the third, will fail to yield a credible settlement. Looking at the contemporary history of South Asia, it is abundantly clear that bilateral efforts have never been met with success. The agreement between India and pro-India Kashmiri leaders, like Sheikh Abdullah, failed because they sought to bypass Pakistan. Similarly, the agreements between India and Pakistan, like the Tashkent Declaration and Simla Agreement, failed because they sought to bypass the Kashmiri leadership. All these attempts only prolonged the dispute, leaving the basic issue unsettled and resultantly, preserved the stalemate. Although the Simla Agreement of 1972 is irrelevant to the Kashmir dispute, it did visualise a ‘final settlement’, but failed to put forward a concrete course of action towards determining Kashmir’s status by the will of its people.

No longer can the mere conversation between India and Pakistan defuse the situation. It is a matter of record that during the 72-year long history of dispute, India has merely used the façade of talks to evade settlement and ease internal or external pressure. In 1962, when India was facing grave difficulties because of the war it had launched against China, it agreed to a round of ministerial talks only to delude two eminent emissaries sent by the United States and Great Britain. The six seemingly serious sessions were simply an exercise in futility. After the end of the 1965 war, when the Security Council had committed itself to address the underlying cause of the India-Pakistan conflict—which was none other than the Kashmir dispute—Indians secured the support of its ally, the former Soviet Union, and the tacit acquiescence of others to help consign the dispute to limbo as far as the United Nations was concerned. Today, India is again in confrontation with China on one side and with Pakistan on the other. We earnestly hope that the Indian government’s message to Pakistan pertaining to a ‘desire for conversation’ will not be one more step in a direction to sabotage the talks through diversionary tactics.

Dr Moeed Yusuf’s approach is based on pragmatism when he said that there can be no progress in talks if they are not accompanied by practical measures, like the release of all political prisoners, reversal of the military siege in Kashmir, pulling back the Domicile Law that changes the demography of Kashmir, ending human rights violations and a stop in the propagation of Indian state terrorism.

In the past, India refrained from discontinuing human rights violations even while announcing its intent to talk. It has to be told, in an understandable language, that peace cannot be held nor can it be continued so long as terror reigns over Kashmir and India remains at war with the Kashmiris.

The people of Kashmir believe that the conversion of turning the Line of Control (LoC) into an international border is a non-solution. Such an idea is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Kashmir. They fought against the status quo and as Dr Moeed Yusuf said, “LOC is a problem and cannot become a solution.”

We hope that the Secretary General of the United Nations maintains and intensifies his watch over the situation in Kashmir and is not lulled into the belief that India and Pakistan will initiate any meaningful dialogue over Kashmir unless there are some mediatory initiatives by an impartial third party. The third party could be the United Nations itself or a person of an international standing who could be delegated by the UN to bring all the three parties together.

The policy that aims at merely defusing the situation, whatever that may mean, and not encouraging a credible settlement has not paid in the past. It is likely to do even less now.