India ignores US, says talks with Pakistan only at army level

IndiaThe proposed Indo-Pak DGMOs' dialogue mechanism is yet to take off despite the understanding reached between two Prime Ministers. (PTI Photo)

The United States has asked India to reconsider its stand and accept Pakistan's suggestion to include civilian diplomats in the proposed Indo-Pak DGMOs' dialogue mechanism, which is yet to take off despite the understanding reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York in September.

India, however, is learnt to have turned down the suggestion, which was made during Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh's just concluded visit to Washington, saying Line of Control was a military problem and must be solved between the two armies. Singh, sources said, conveyed that India did not see a "diplomatic role in what was essentially a military issue".

The US argument was that involving Pakistan Foreign Office representatives would strengthen the hands of the civilian government, allowing it greater say in managing the conversation on an issue that till now remains a preserve of the Pakistani military.

In fact, the original proposal from Pakistan was to have a Foreign Office-led affair, with the the two foreign secretaries leading the mechanism on the two sides. When India expressed reservation over this, Islamabad revised its proposal ahead of the New York meeting, suggesting a DGMO (director general of military operations)-level dialogue, with civilian representatives on both sides.

India, however, did not agree. The logic on the Indian side is that the nature of incidents at the LoC — be it beheading of soldiers, cross-border raids or killings by special battle groups — reflect military competitiveness in an area with negligible civilian population and controlled by armies on both sides.

New Delhi's understanding is that it's for the two armies to work out protocols of peaceful behaviour on the LoC, and that involvement of non-military officials would turn this into a diplomatic issue.

This issue was discussed at some length between the PM and Sharif in New York, with the latter trying to underline the importance of having civilian representation in the suggested mechanism.

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