Of India-Pakistan ties and third-party mediation

By Hindustan times

In the midst of the mismanagement of Covid-19 by the central government, and India’s decision to accept foreign aid after 17 years, a development that has slipped under the radar is the choice to accept third-party mediation qua Pakistan — a first post-1972.

In a recent off-the-record interaction with journalists, Pakistani army chief General QJ Bajwa apparently opined that India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed had ostensibly held confabulations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), leading up to the February 25 ceasefire. What was, however, glossed over was the exact role of the UAE in midwifing this interaction?

That role was revealed earlier by the UAE’s ambassador to the United States (US), Yousef Al Otaiba. He avowed that the UAE is indeed mediating between India and Pakistan to help them reach a “healthy and functional relationship”. He further went on to state that India and Pakistan may not become the best of friends but at least “we” want to get it to a level where it is functional and operational and “they” (India and Pakistan) are speaking to each other and there are lines of communication and that’s “our” goal.

Notwithstanding the dripping condescension of a marriage counsellor trying to patch up a rather prickly relationship, Otaiba’s revelations may perhaps be inaugurating a new chapter in the Indo-Pakistani dynamic — direct and overt mediation by a third country.

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