India-Pakistan intelligence leaderships holding backchannel talks?

India-Pakistan backchannel talks are being held between the intelligence leaderships of the two countries, according to Dawn newspaper of Pakistan

Apr 26, 2021

India-Pakistan backchannel talks are being held between the intelligence leaderships of the two countries, according to Dawn newspaper of Pakistan. 

Quoting sources, the usually authoritative Dawn said India had preferred that quiet negotiations take place at the intelligence level, instead of through a political platform.

New Delhi proposed that the two countries start talking on all outstanding issues side by side instead of lumping them together in a composite dialogue.

Islamabad consented to India’s suggestion.

Unidentified sources told the paper that India had approached Pakistan in December 2020 with an offer to reduce tension and suggested backchannel talks on all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir,.

According to information coming out from official quarters, the top Pakistan leadership discussed the Indian offer and decided to explore all avenues for a peaceful settlement of conflicts by engaging in quiet talks.

 “It is an opportune time for us to take a strategic pause,” the report quoted a Pakistan official as saying.

“We need a break from the cycle of violence and focus on domestic issues,” the official said,

According to the report, the recent moves constitute a major policy initiative towards normalization of ties and reflect the changing dynamics in Islamabad and New Delhi whereby those advocating greater engagement have begun to dominate those who espoused a hardline and hawkish approach within decision-making circles.

There appears to be a newfound clarity in the Pakistani leadership about pushing for a fresh round of engagement with India after a dangerous round of hostilities.

Towards that end, Pakistan seems willing to explore outstanding issues separately.

The backchannel dialogue hit a bump recently when the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Pakistan’s federal cabinet decided to allow import of sugar and wheat from India, but failed to get the cabinet not.

Fresh information suggests that initial backchannel contacts between the two neighbors took place in 2017 after Indian officials quietly conveyed to the Pakistani intelligence and military leadership to initiate a dialogue.

The report said the then Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had given the nod for the backchannel negotiations, which then continued at a gradual pace.

However, it was in December last year that the talks went into a higher gear. Since then, a number of confidence-building measures have been taken, including a ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC), according to the report.

The Pakistani military leadership wants a greater push for peace in South Asia, the paper said.

“War has never produced a solution and two nuclear powers cannot afford a conflict,” said an official quoted by Dawn.

The Pakistani leadership seemingly prefers “strategic patience” amid a realisation that ‘active borders’ that witness constant low-level conflict are a major drain on the economy at a time when Pakistan needs to strengthen its financial muscles.

Sources say the Pakistani leadership is now firmly committed to resolving conflicts and achieving normalization in the region, the paper, which is often not out of sync with official thinking, said. 


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