New Delhi: Pakistan is expected to announce restoration of normal diplomatic ties with India after the Kartarpur Corridor is inaugurated on 9 November, with envoys of both countries likely to resume charge in the new year.
According to top-level sources, Pakistan has been sending out “positive signals” through diplomatic and back-channel talks that it is keen to restore the diplomatic ties that were downgraded by Prime Minister Imran Khan after India removed Articles 370 and 35A, scrapping the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision to downgrade ties was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee, summoned by PM Khan on 7 August just two days after New Delhi’s Kashmir decision on 5 August. The committee had also decided to suspend bilateral trade with India and raise the matter at the UN Security Council.
On the same day, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria was expelled from Pakistan. Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi Moin-ul-Haque, who was expected to take charge in the same month, was also stopped from coming to India by his government.
Days before the downgrading of the ties, however, Bisaria was seen having dinner with Haque in Islamabad on 2 August.
“Neighbours! A wonderful meal and warm chat with Pakistan High Commissioner-designate to India Moin-Ul-Haque. A professional diplomat and current ambassador in Paris, he’s looking forward to getting to India soon. Wished him an exciting tenure!” Bisaria had said in a Facebook post then.
After Bisaria’s departure, media reports in Pakistan stated that India had “lost hope of normalisation of diplomatic ties with Islamabad”.
India still wary of Kartarpur Corridor
The Kartarpur Corridor, which is going to be inaugurated on November 9, is still seen by India as an initiative undertaken by Pakistan Army and not by the country’s civilian government.
On Wednesday, a high-ranking Indian official stated that the very fact that Pakistan did not let the talks on Kartarpur derail, despite soaring tensions, is because the Pakistani Army wants to use the corridor to promote Khalistani elements and get some leverage in yet another border state of India.
The official, however, added that New Delhi will continue to maintain the corridor as a pathway for peace.
“Downgrading of ties does not help anyone. As it is the relationship is in a difficult situation. Kartarpur at least will herald a new beginning and is a positive step for people-to-people ties,” said former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal. “The relationship is otherwise completely blocked. If opening of the corridor helps in restoration of diplomatic ties, then this will been seen some sort of a thaw. And this might also ease up things in terms of tensions over Kashmir.”