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India – Pakistan Dialogue: 28 Meetings since 2012, but little progress on ground

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India Pakistan dialogue process is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. The National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks were called off at the last minute. Data reveals that 28 meetings took place between India & Pakistan since 2012, while there has been little progress on ground.

The National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks between India & Pakistan were supposed to take forward the discussions held in Ufa (Russia). The proposed NSA level meeting is now called off.  Data available with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) indicates that quite a few meetings (28), at various levels were held between India & Pakistan. But there is little to show in terms of real progress on ground.

The Resumption of Dialogue in 2011

India suspended the dialogue process with Pakistan in 2008 after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The composite dialogue process resumed with formal agreement in 2011 between the two nations. Since March 2012, 28 official interactions took place between officials at various levels from both the governments.

Under the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, India and Pakistan have committed themselves to building peaceful and cooperative ties, and to address outstanding issues through a peaceful bilateral dialogue. According to the MEA, India has consistently conveyed to Pakistan that a meaningful dialogue requires an environment free from terrorism and violence.

Number of meetings since 2012

There have been 28 meetings between India & Pakistan at various levels. Six of these meetings have been at the Prime Ministerial level, three at the Minister level, 5 at the Secretary level, 3 on the sidelines of the SAARC meetings and rest between other dignitaries.

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InteractionVenueDateDetails
Then Prime MinistersSeoul27-Mar-12Met briefly on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit
Then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh met President of Pakistan H.E. Mr. Asif Ali ZardariNew Delhi08-Apr-12During the Pak President’s private visit to the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer
Then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh met President ZardariTehran30-Aug-12On the sidelines of the NAM Summit
Meeting between then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh And Prime Minister Nawaz SharifNew York27-Sep-13On the sidelines of UN General Assembly Session & discussed bilateral relations
Meeting between PM Modi & Prime Minister Nawaz SharifNew Delhi27-May-14During the visit of SAARC Heads of State/ Government during the swearing-in of the new government
Meeting between PM Modi & Prime Minister Nawaz SharifUfa, Russia10-Jul-15On the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

 

Issues discussed during these meetings

Multiple issues have been discussed during these meetings ranging from Terrorism to trade. Border related issues, Water issues & Fishermen related issues were also discussed during these meetings. While Terrorism is an agenda item in most meetings, border related issues were discussed in three meetings, trade related in four meetings, water issues in four meetings and humanitarian issues like release of the captured fishermen in one meeting.

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No Improvement in Trade

While quite a few meetings have taken place between the neighbors, there seems to be very little progress on ground. While hundreds of cease fire violations continue to take place each year, trade between the two countries has hardly improved.

The total value of trade (Exports & Imports) between India & Pakistan was $2.37 billion dollar in 2010-11. This has gone down to $1.94 billion in 2011-12 after the dialogue process resumed. The value of trade increased to $2.61 billion in 2012-13. It further increased to $2.7 billion in 2013-14. It again went down to $2.35 billion in 2014-15.

The share of the trade between India & Pakistan has never crossed 0.5% of India’s overall trade volume. It was 0.4% in 2010-11 and went down to the lowest of 0.2% in 2011-12. In 2014-15, it was a paltry 0.3%. Much smaller countries than Pakistan have better share of trade with India.

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The Silver Lining – Release of Fishermen

The silver lining of the dialogue process has been the release of fishermen lodged in jails by both the countries. Just before the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India, Government of Pakistan released 150 Indian fishermen in May 2014. India on the other hand released 97 Pakistani fishermen in July & August 2015.

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