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June 2, 2022
Indo-Pakistani Talks Advance

William Huntington

Pakistan and India are nearing final agreement on a proposal to reduce the risk of nuclear accidents or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. According to a joint statement produced at the most recent round of talks on nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs) in Islamabad April 25-26, the two nations “held detailed discussions on the draft text” of the proposal presented by India and “agreed to work towards its finalization,” possibly as early as July.

Subsequently, on April 27 India and Pakistan turned to discussing conventional CBMs and agreed to seek new accords on a number of issues, including finalizing a set of rules governing those sections of their border not in dispute. These rules would address such concerns as the setback distance for construction of facilities on either side of the border. Although most of the boundary between India and Pakistan is recognized as a legitimate international border by both sides, certain areas, most notably Jammu and Kashmir, are disputed.

Further, the two countries agreed to enhance the existing agreement barring the development of new defensive works along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, establish rules for holding meetings between sector-level military commanders, and finalize an agreement on the expedient return of “inadvertent line crosser(s).”

In addition, Pakistan presented India with a draft text on the prevention of incidents at sea.

Nuclear negotiators are set to meet again soon. Pakistani Additional Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tariq Osman Haider, who led the Pakistani delegation, was quoted by Reuters April 26 as saying that “finalization of the [nuclear] agreement would take place during the next round of foreign secretary-level talks in New Delhi in July.”

However, even as CBM talks continue, Pakistan’s National Command Authority in May said it will not only maintain its missile program but further improve its strategic capability. Islamabad claimed it was reacting in part to the pending U.S.-Indian civil nuclear deal and its potential effect on regional stability.

Four rounds of nuclear CBM discussions have taken place since 2004 as part of the “composite dialogue” framework set up between the nations to resolve contentious issues. There have been three rounds of similar conventional talks.

As recently as 2002, India and Pakistan deployed significant numbers of troops along their border during a confrontation stemming from Indian accusations that Pakistan had aided terrorist attacks on its territory. (See ACT, April 2002.)