19 October, 2020

The Burden Of Popular Optimism

As foreign secretaries of both countries prepare to talk, there is a groundswell of opinion, even in Pakistan, to improve ties

The Burden Of Popular Optimism

JANUARY 3, 1994. The VIP lounge at Islamabad airport was teeming with journalists and officials. The then Indian foreign secretary, J.N. Dixit, and his Pakistani counterpart, Shahryar Khan, prepared to address the press at the end of the seventh round of foreign secretary-level talks. A Pakistani journalist asked Dixit how India would react if Pakistan moved an anti-India resolution on Kashmir at the upcoming UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Pat came Dixit's reply: Pakistan can move as many resolutions as it wishes to. That will not solve the problem of Kashmir, and India can live with resolutions "moved or unmoved by Pakistan".

In a combative mood, Dixit showcased the Indian stand quite succinctly: it would be pointless to battle the Kashmir dispute in international fora. Pakistan had done it for many years. The two countries must talk. He left for New Delhi soon after. And Shahryar Khan announced that foreign secretary-level talks could not be resumed unless India sent out substantive signals on Kashmir. These demands were...



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