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The year that 2014 was for Indo-Pak ties

Ties plummeted with cross-border firing claiming at least 20 lives on both sides.

By: Press Trust of India |
December 29, 2014 12:49:26 pm


Indo-Pak ties nosedived in 2014, as the deadly border clashes, cancellation of talks and a war of words dashed hopes of any headway towards peace even as Pakistan witnessed a series of terror attacks, the most brutal being the massacre at an army-run school in Peshawar this month.

Ties plummeted further with clashes at the Line of Control as cross-border firing between the two sides claimed at least 20 lives on both sides. Both sides blamed each other for the start of fight.

As Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took over in June 2013, his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh was left with less than a year in office which prompted Pakistan to delay peace overtures till India’s 2014 general elections, which were won by Narendra Modi with a resounding mandate.

In a goodwill gesture that took many by surprise, Modi invited SAARC leaders, including Sharif, for his swearing-in ceremony as the Prime Minister in May this year.

The Modi-Sharif meeting in New Delhi was the high point of bilateral ties this year as they asked their officials to plough the ground for peace.

Following up on the meeting, the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries were scheduled to meet in August in Islamabad. But just before the meeting, India cancelled the talks after Pakistan’s envoy in India Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatists ahead of the dialogue.

The UN General Assembly’s annual meeting in New York often provides a good neutral venue for the leaders of two countries to meet but the bitterness over the cancellation of Foreign Secretary-level talks dashed hopes of a rapprochement.

Sharif, in his speech at the UNGA, asked the UN to play a role in resolving the Kashmir dispute while Prime Minister Modi in his address asked Pakistan to stop terrorism, as the verbal duel soured ties.

A window of opportunity for revival of talks came in November when both Modi and Sharif visited Nepal to attend the regional SAARC summit. But the summit did little to better ties as the first day saw cold vibes being shared between the two leaders.

The only glimmer of hope at the summit came at the end when the two leaders shared a warm handshake and exchanged smiles.

However, the pleasantries failed to break the deadlock over talks with both countries maintaining that they are willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue provided the other side takes the initiative.

In early December, India slammed Pakistan’s support to UN-designated terrorist and Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and his proscribed Jamaat-ud-Dawah, saying this was “nothing short of mainstreaming of the terrorism.”

India’s reaction came after Pakistan government provided logistical support to a two-day congregation in Lahore which was organised by the JuD.

Pakistan says there is no case against Saeed and that he is free to move in the country as a Pakistani national.

The Kashmir Valley was rocked by four terror attacks in a day in December by militants who stormed an Army camp in Uri leaving 11 security personnel, including a Lt Colonel, dead and killed two civilians in Tral.

India said the militants came from across the border, an assertion rejected by Pakistan.

Towards the end of the year tragedy struck Pakistan as the Taliban militants killed 150 people, mostly school children, in an attack on an army-run school in Peshawar.

Sympathy for the victims’ families poured in from across the globe along with condemnation of the gruesome attack.

Modi was seemingly touched and picked up the phone to talk to Sharif. He condoled and offered help in fighting militancy.

But the positive environment vanished within 24 hours when a Pakistan court granted bail to 2008 Mumbai attacks key planner Zaiur Rehman Lakhvi, stunning not only India but also many Pakistanis, who wondered at the timing of his bail.

Pakistan acted fast to control the damage and before Lakhvi was freed, he was detained under a law which empowers authorities to detain a person who could endanger public peace. The government also decided in principle to challenge the bail in a high court, but failed to do so in practice as the higher courts closed for a two-week winter break.

On the economic front, the two sides failed to make any headway towards complete normalisation of trade and Pakistan is reluctant to give Most Favoured Nation status to India.

The same was true about efforts to liberalise the visa regime under agreement of 2012 as its full benefits have not been allowed to reach the people.

The frosty ties were also reflected on the sports field with Pakistani hockey players going into a frenzy after defeating India in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar, making obscene gestures towards the crowd.

Also, the Pakistan Kabaddi team launched an official complaint that match referees were biased and played a role in their loss to Indian Kabaddi team in the fifth Kabaddi World Cup final last week.

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