Five things we expect from Khurshid when he meets Aziz

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is meeting Pakistani Prime Minister’s security advisor Sartaj Aziz today.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is meeting Pakistani Prime Minister’s security advisor Sartaj Aziz today. His meeting comes after the separatist faction of Jammu and Kashmir’s meeting with the convoy.

Khurshid issued a statement regarding the said meeting asserting that it will affect the dialogue process between the two countries. Given his apprehensions and country’s hope, here are five things that we expect Khurshid to convey to Mr Aziz:

1.    Border security: Khurshid will definitely be discussing the recent border skirmishes that took place in Jammu and Kashmir. He must emphasize the point that such incidents, especially after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s declarations of bettering ties with India, are going to b a game-spoiler for pro-peace forces on both sides of the border. This point becomes all the more important as Aziz wields considerable influence on security related matters in the Pakistani establishment.

2.    Kashmir and separatist sentiments: With Aziz having chosen to meet Hurriyat leaders before Khurshid; the issue of Kashmir can figure in the talks. For some time in the recent past, the Pakistani government had chosen to sideline the Hurriyat in favour of strengthening the bilateral peace process. Aziz’s meeting with the Hurriyat; and the aggressive stance adopted by Syed Ali Shah Geelani thereafter, changes that line of engagement. In an explosive statement, Geelani has talked of not ruling out the gun for a solution to Kashmir. It is imperative that Khurshid records India’s strong displeasure with this development.

3.    Mumbai attacks: Khurshid must also emphasize the glacial pace at which the Mumbai attacks trial is progressing in Pakistan. Indian diplomacy has to its credit that it has not let the matter die down and has confronted Pakistan with hard-facts that cannot be ignored. India has also tactfully presented these facts on international forums and definitely isolated Pakistan on this. US President Obama also probing Pakistan on this issue during Sharif’s recent US visit underscores that India’s diplomatic efforts have borne fruits. Khurshid should definitely press on this issue; and also make Aziz aware of the sentiment of frustration that prevails in India. This sentiment of frustration is further exacerbated by venomous speeches that elements like Hafiz Saeed are time and again allowed to spew.

4.    Afghanistan: The emerging situation in Afghanistan should also find a place on Khurshid’s list, when he meets Aziz today. With ISI’s deep links with various factions in Pakistan, it is going to be one of the most strategic players in Afghanistan when US forces withdraw in 2014. India must apprise Pakistan of its interests in post 2014 Afghanistan; and express its willingness to work together on all efforts that lead to stability, peace and development in Afghanistan.

5.    Bilateral trade: The issue of bilateral trade, which has immense potential to enhance bilateral ties, is often thrown in the background due to other ‘hot’ issues. The Pakistani establishment, or at least sections thereof, clearly understands that boosting trade with India is crucial to their devastated economy.  Khurshid should express India’s willingness to expand trade; but at the same time it is also important to iterate that trade and terrorism just can’t go together.

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