There is a considerable amount of truth in the statement that the Kashmir issue has always been an obstacle in the way of peaceful and brotherly relations between Pakistan and India. Historically speaking, Kashmir was a predominantly Muslim state under the rule of Hindu Maharaja. However, it failed to cede to either Pakistan or India and became a disputed region which brought about unceasing animosity and bone of contention between the two states. The dispute has always diverted the attentions of both countries from core issues of real significance compelling them not to invest in the people who remain deprived and poor. It would be quite pessimistic to describe that even in the 21st century Kashmir is still a real hot potato between two countries providing them the excuse to carry on the enmity and maintaining their bellicose.
There is no denying the fact that talks have been arranged at numerous occasions to come to a workable solution of the Kashmir issue, but nothing concrete has been achieved. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Swaran Singh, the Indian foreign minister held many rounds of talks in 1962. These talks are beautifully described as “expectations without results”. Ayub Khan, the president of Pakistan demonstrated his anxiousness for bridging the gulf between two countries and come to some sort of negotiated settlement between the two countries. In this backdrop, the delegations met and talks held between the two people as mentioned above. However, the talks were anticipated by many as a futile exercise owing to unremitting hostilities and ideological differences between the two sides.
In 1962, India had to accept a humiliated defeat in Sino-Indian territorial conflict and the embarrassing situation for India made the environment conducive for talks between India and Pakistan. During the Sino-Indian war, the western powers hold Pakistan from pressurizing India for talks which might have been on her terms, provided India an opportunity to do the necessary homework.
First round of talks was set to be held in December 1962, in Rawalpindi. India came up with a plan that they would give some 1500 sq miles of Kashmir valley to Pakistan. But, unfortunately, the talks failed due to the provisional agreement between China and Pakistan that earned criticism from India. The issue was that India claimed territories on Chinese side of Line of Control.
The time for second round of talks was January, 1963. Now the nature of disagreement between the two sides was intellectual. Pakistan was talking of partition based on population while India came up with more workable plan of rational distribution of Kashmir valley. The gap was bridgeable but lack of sincerity from both sides caused unfavorable environment resulting in failure of talks.
Once again the clouds of mistrust disappeared and a narrow window of opportunity was opened up. This time Karachi was the negotiating place where talks were held in February 1963. Suddenly, the calamity once again returned in its worst form, when Indian ambassador for Pakistan went to Calcutta before the opening of next session of talks with papers in his hand titled Kashmir, which clearly indicated that India perceived foreign involvement in the issue. But before joining talks Indian delegation formerly sent letters that discarded any Anglo- America proposal. They got map of Kashmir with them, and were ready to cede more than 1500sqmiles but Pakistan claimed whole the Kashmir valley. For the time being talks ended in smoke.
For the fourth time they met in Calcutta on 12 march 1963. It was obvious that the parties are hard to reconcile, keeping in view that the Indian foreign minister had announced temporary postponement which was resented by U.S and Britain. U.S.A left no stone unturned to pressurize India to stick to talks. Because it was perceived that once they went away the issue will remain unresolved for decades. U.S.A even threatened India of grave consequences, but vain.
In real terms, both sides lacked sincerity and trust. It was understandable that only the ‘give and take policy’ was feasible, but they greatly disregarded this phenomenon and stuck to their stands. Truly, they were not ready to move from their ossified and calcified positions. In the same way, the role of foreign powers further muddied the water and widened the gap between India and Pakistan. Hence talks failed to achieve the desired results.