Indo-Pakistan Talks 2004: Nuclear Confidence Building Measures (NCBMs) and Kashmir
After six years, in June 2004 India and Pakistan resumed the composite dialogue process that covers eight baskets of issues agreed upon in Male in 1997 between Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and Nawaz Sharif. The eight baskets are Jammu and Kashmir; Siachen; Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project; Sir Creek; Terrorism and Drug Trafficking; Economic and Commercial Cooperation; Peace and Security; and Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in various fields. The last round of talks was held in October 1998 in Islamabad, on Peace and Security, CBMs and Jammu and Kashmir. These were followed by talks during November 5-13 in New Delhi on the remaining baskets. Until 1998, eight rounds of talks on Siachen, six rounds on Sir Creek and nine rounds on Tulbul/Wular project have occurred. The 1998 New Delhi talks generated some optimism and prompted Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to undertake the historic bus trip to Lahore, which culminated in the Lahore Declaration of February 21, 1999. However, the peace overtures proved short-lived as India and Pakistan were locked in a war in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir after armed Pakistan intruders occupied several peaks on the Indian side across the Line of Control (LoC). In October 1999, Nawaz Sharif was overthrown and the Lahore Agreement became another signed document in the history of India-Pakistan relations. The Islamic fundamentalists, especially the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) criticised the Lahore Agreement. The military never recognised it until recently. India and Pakistan also witnessed a failed summit meeting between Vajpayee and Musharraf at Agra in July 2001 which showed the low level of mutual trust and confidence as a result of the Kargil war. India believes that it was an adventure of Musharraf. A shift occurred when Vajpayee made the peace offer in Srinagar on April 18, 2003. Snapped air, rail and diplomatic links were restored as Confidence Building Measures as spadework for bilateral engagements. India made a 12-point peace offer on October 22, 2003. It included bus services between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and between Munabao (Rajasthan) and Kokhrapar (Sindh). In May 2004, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was voted out and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power. Notwithstanding fears in Pakistan that the peace process would be postponed due to the change of government in New Delhi, India and Pakistan held talks as scheduled. Expert level talks were held on Drug Trafficking during June 15 and 16, Nuclear Confidence Building Measures (NCBMs) during June 19 and 20. Foreign Secretary level talks were held during June 27 and 28, 2004. Let us look at the salient features of the talks on nuclear and military CBMs and 'Jammu and Kashmir'.
Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis. Strategic Analysis