India-Pakistan Backchannel Diplomacy – UPSC GS2

Developments in India- Pakistan Relations indicating backchannel diplomacy
Recently, important developments took place between India and Pakistan which suggests the functioning of an ongoing backchannel talk.
  • India-Pakistan agreement to follow Ceasefireat LoC. It indicates coordination at diplomatic level and high-level political approval.
  • Scheduling of the much-delayed Indus Water Treaty talks. 
  • Granting of sports visas.
  • There were no references to Pakistan in electoral speeches by the ruling party.
  • Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)’s silence on U-turn by Pakistan on trade are the other clues.
What is the need for back-channel process in India-Pakistan Relations?
Engagement between India and Pakistan is inevitable due to the following reasons:
  • For Pakistan, the weakening economic condition and the increasing pressure from the Financial Action Task Force to shut down all terrorist safe-havens.
  • For India, a stand-off with the Chinese Army at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and the possibility of a two-front war situation.
  • Geopolitical issue of engaging with Afghanistan will be one of the major reasons for the engagement.
What are the past examples when India engaged with Pakistan through backchannel diplomacy?
  • A channel for peace talks began in 1988 during the Rajiv Gandhi period, supported by Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan. However, the death of Pakistan’s general ended the process without any solution.
  • During the Kargil War, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee employed a back-channel interlocutor to finalize a ceasefire agreement.
  • In 2016, six former Pakistani High Commissioners travelled to Delhi for a Track-II consultation with nine former Indian High Commissioners.

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