Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Composite Dialogues between India and Pakistan: Challenges and Impediments

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Composite Dialogues between India and Pakistan: Challenges and Impediments

Article excerpt


India-Pakistan relations are passing through testing times. Since 1947 these two neighboring nuclear states have failed to resolve issues that are obstacles to normalizing relations. Both India and Pakistan have long lasting unresolved issues. During decades of political engagement, they have tried various formats of negotiations: structured and non-structured, and people-to-people. However, they have failed to resolve even a single bilateral dispute. In the past there were moments, like in 1963, 1992, and 2007 when, after successful rounds of talks, the two countries were on the brink of sealing a deal over Kashmir valley.1 However, unwilling to accept a changed reality, both sides continue to blame each other for the failure of talks. In a decision to move beyond their conventional forms of negotiation in 1997 India and Pakistan agreed to have a "Composite Dialogue" instead of issue-specific negotiations. This new format also met with a series of failures, though it also has a few significant achievements to its credit.

Instead of learning from past failures and improvising, these states try to "move on." Yet, instead of actually moving on, their dialogue continually concludes with a sour note and bitter memories. Whether they do not want to learn from past or resolve their bilateral disputes is a complex question; unless they learn from past failures, improvise negotiation processes, and prepare to make some bold decisions, their disputes will remain unresolved.

This paper is an attempt to look into composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. It will survey the status of progress made on issues under the composite dialogue. The current Indian Prime Minister Narcndra Modi's government has a different policy toward Pakistan than its predecessor. Since Modi assumed power, both countries have brought their forces to high alert on their borders. Provocative statements by Prime Minster Modi and his ministers have increased tensions in South Asia and have created a war-like situation on borders.

The actions of China have also irritated India, and Indian leadership openly criticized Chinese investment in Pakistan. China and Pakistan have close economic tics, and the Chinese president's visit to Pakistan was perceived as a security threat by the Indian government, which openly criticized Pak-China economic agreements.

India-Pakistan both claim legitimate rights in Afghanistan. After 9/11, Afghanistan became an important country strategically and politically. India and Pakistan both supported Afghanistan but each with different interests. After NATO's departure, both India and Pakistan have their security agencies (ISI & RAW) protecting their respective interests in troubled state. Pakistan is playing a critical role in bringing Taliban and the Afghan government to the conference table, and this might irritate India. However, this paper will focus on the challenges and impediments responsible for failure of the series of bilateral dialogues between India and Pakistan.


According to Oxford Advanced English Dictionary, dialogue is a formal discussion between two groups or countries, especially when they are trying to solve a problem, or end a disagreement. Prior to 1997, India and Pakistan were engaged in issue-specific dialogues. They attained very few successes: the Nehru-Liaqat pact between then-Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lai Nehru and Pakistan's Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan was signed in 1950, the Indus Water Treaty under the aegis of the World Bank was signed in 1960, and the two countries agreed to exchange of information about nuclear weapons in 1988. On the Kashmir dispute, issue-specific discussion brought moments in 1954, 1963, 1972, and 2 0 072 when the a deal was almost completed, but derailed by the actors, who were ultimately unwilling to abandon or modify their claims over the Kashmir valley.

Overall, bilateral dialogues between India and Pakistan did not progress in a positive direction. …

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