India-Pakistan peace overtures greeted with skepticism

Two nuclear powers are working on a roadmap for long-term peace and a possible solution to Kashmir dispute

SRINAGAR: Several recent peace overtures between India and Pakistan have been widely hailed by both pro-India and pro-freedom groups and experts in Indian-administered Kashmir, but with a dose of skepticism.

On February 25 this year, India and Pakistan agreed to honor a border cease-fire the two countries had signed in 2003, but which both accused each other of violating countless times since then.

Dozens of people have been killed and scores have been injured in cross-border firings that have been the most intense in the past 17 years since August 5, 2019, when India scrapped the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Along with the cease-fire agreement, media reports suggest that the two nuclear powers are working on a roadmap for long-term peace and a possible solution to the 73-year-old Kashmir dispute. Officially, both countries have yet to issue a statement about any such dialogue.

In Kashmir, where a raging anti-India insurgency has completed 30 years, the Hurriyat Conference, a pro-freedom grouping of several political parties, on Tuesday, welcomed “the shift towards good neighborly relations between the two countries” and stated it is ready to support such initiatives.

However, the Hurriyat said in a statement that such efforts “would not bear fruit until an atmosphere free of fear, repression, and human rights” is allowed to flourish. Releasing political prisoners, stopping arrests and killings during counterinsurgency operations could be such facilitating steps, it said.

The National Conference, the oldest pro-India political party that has got flak for stamping the controversial accession between the pre-1947 Jammu and Kashmir state and the Indian Union, said any political move that would end the strife in the region is welcomed.

“At this stage, it is too early to say anything definitively. Until some concrete changes on the ground do not materialize, one can only hope for a better outcome,” Imran Nabi, the party’s spokesman, told News Agency.