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Why did India and Pakistan hold secret talks in Dubai?

NEW DELHI (CU)_Government officials from India and Pakistan secretly met in Dubai in January, with the aim of calming military tensions in the disputed region of Kashmir, sources with knowledge of the matter have revealed.

Back in 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew Indian-ruled autonomy of Kashmir, following the suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in the conflicted territory. The move sparked outrage in Islamabad, weakening diplomatic relations between the two neighbours.

Nevertheless, over the recent past, the two governments have opened talks aimed at normalising relations, as part of which top intelligence officials from both countries travelled to Dubai for a meeting facilitated by the government of UAE. Other sources say that the two nuclear-armed rivals may have held talks in London and Thailand as well, although these meetings have never been publicly acknowledged.

Kashmir has long been a subject of conflict between the two neighbours, both of which claim the entirety of the region, but rule only in part. Nevertheless, both countries have their own reasons to seek reconciliation. India for instance, has found itself in a border-standoff with China since last year, and therefore does not intend to extend its military interventions to the Pakistan-Front.

On the other hand, Islamabad is dealing with economic difficulties and therefore cannot afford growing tensions on the Kashmir border for a prolonged period. Moreover, with US troops set to withdraw from Kabul later this month, Pakistan also has to stablise its Afghan border.

Hence, experts claim that it is better for Delhi and Islamabad to talk, and even better to do so quietly, behind closed doors, rather than in a glare of publicity. Nevertheless, it is believed that these discussions would not go far beyond basic management of tensions, which in itself is welcomed in a region where countries have failed to maintain satisfactory diplomatic relations.   

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