- Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended the restoration of high commissioners between Pakistan and India in each other’s capital, as per an official handout from the NA Secretariat.
- During a briefing on the foreign minister’s recent visit to India, the committee emphasized the minister’s participation in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, which served to reaffirm Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace, security, economic prosperity, and connectivity.
- In response to the Indian Foreign Minister’s remarks on cross-border terrorism, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto condemned unilateral and illegal measures by states that violate international law and Security Council resolutions, highlighting their contradiction with the objectives of the SCO.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended on Wednesday that Pakistan and India should restore high commissioners in each other’s capital, as per an official handout issued by the NA Secretariat. The committee, chaired by Mohsin Dawar, was briefed on the recent visit of the foreign minister to India. It emphasized that the minister’s participation in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace, security, economic prosperity, and connectivity.
During the briefing, it was highlighted that bilateral relations between member states are not discussed on the SCO platform. However, in response to the insinuating remarks made by the Indian Foreign Minister regarding cross-border terrorism, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto condemned the “unilateral and illegal measures by states in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions,” which contradict the objectives of the SCO.
The relationship between Pakistan and India has long been characterized by tensions and conflicts. Unfortunately, recent developments have witnessed a significant deterioration in diplomatic ties between the two neighboring nations. Both countries have taken steps to downgrade their diplomatic relations, exacerbating the already strained atmosphere and posing potential risks to regional stability.
Pakistan and India have a complex history marred by territorial disputes, cross-border conflicts, and ideological differences. Over the years, numerous attempts have been made to improve relations and foster dialogue. However, the downgrading of diplomatic ties signifies a setback in these efforts and raises concerns about the prospects of peaceful coexistence.
Downgrading of Diplomatic Ties
Expulsion of High Commissioners: One of the most visible signs of the deteriorating relations between Pakistan and India was the expulsion of high commissioners from both capitals. This decision was taken as a response to alleged acts of espionage and other hostile activities by diplomatic staff. The expulsion not only hampers direct communication but also limits the scope for engagement and dialogue.
Suspension of Bilateral Dialogue: The suspension of bilateral dialogue channels further contributes to the downgrade in diplomatic ties. Platforms that previously facilitated discussion and negotiation on crucial issues, such as the Composite Dialogue and the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, have remained dormant. The absence of meaningful talks reduces the chances of resolving disputes and finding common ground.
Reciprocal Travel Restrictions: Another aspect of the diplomatic downgrade is the imposition of reciprocal travel restrictions on diplomats. Visa limitations and reduced mobility hinder the ability of diplomats to engage with counterparts, attend meetings, and fulfill their diplomatic responsibilities. These restrictions impede the fostering of mutual understanding and hinder efforts to de-escalate tensions.
Reasons for Downgrade
The persistent instances of cross-border violence, including ceasefire violations and terrorist attacks, have significantly strained relations between Pakistan and India. Both countries have accused each other of sponsoring terrorism and have engaged in retaliatory measures. These escalations have fueled mistrust and hardened positions, making diplomatic progress challenging.
The lack of trust and the absence of sustained dialogue between Pakistan and India have been major impediments to improving relations. Historical grievances, divergent national narratives, and unresolved disputes, such as Kashmir, have hindered the establishment of a conducive environment for diplomacy. As a result, mutual suspicion and animosity persist, hampering any potential breakthrough.
Domestic political considerations in both countries have played a role in the downgrade of diplomatic ties. Public sentiment, nationalism, and electoral dynamics have influenced policy choices, making it difficult for leaders to pursue conciliatory approaches. Political pressures and the desire to appear tough on security issues have overshadowed the importance of diplomatic engagement.
Implications and the Way Forward
The downgrade in diplomatic ties between Pakistan and India carries significant implications for the region. It further complicates efforts to address longstanding disputes and undermines the potential for cooperation on issues of mutual concern, such as trade, counterterrorism, and regional stability.
Analysts say both countries must demonstrate political will, engage in sustained dialogue, and prioritize conflict resolution to restore diplomatic ties. Confidence-building measures, such as the resumption of comprehensive dialogue, enhanced people-to-people exchanges, and increased cultural cooperation, can help rebuild trust and pave the way for constructive engagement.
The international community also has a role to play in encouraging dialogue and promoting peace between Pakistan and India. Regional stakeholders, including neighboring countries and international organizations, should facilitate dialogue processes and provide support for conflict resolution efforts.