India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension in Kashmir, Reuters quoting top intelligence officers from people with close knowledge reported.
According to the report, the two governments have re-opened a back channel of diplomacy aimed at a modest roadmap to normalising ties over the next several months.
Kashmir has long been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, both of which claim all of the region but rule only in part.
“Officials from India’s Research and Analysis Wing, the external spy agency, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence travelled to Dubai for a meeting facilitated by the United Arab Emirates government,” Reuters reported.
Ayesha Siddiqa, a top Pakistani defence analyst, told the news gathering agency, “she believed Indian and Pakistan intelligence officials had been meeting for several months in third countries.”
Adding that there have been meetings in Thailand, in Dubai, in London between the highest level people.
According to Reuters, it was after the January meeting that the two countries announced that they would stop cross-border shooting along the Line of Control (LoC).
Both sides have also signalled plans to hold elections on their sides of Kashmir this year as part of efforts to bring normalcy to a region riven by decades of bloodshed.
“There is a recognition there will be attacks inside Kashmir, there has been discussions as to how to deal with it and not let this effort derailed by the next attack,” one of the people told Reuters.
There is as yet, however, no grand plan to resolve t Kashmir dispute. Rather both sides are trying to reduce tensions to pave the way for a broad engagement, all the people Reuters spoke to said.
“Pakistan is transiting from a geo-strategic domain to a geo-economic domain,” Raoof Hasan, special assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, told Reuters.
“Peace, both within and around with its neighbours, is a key constituent to facilitate that.”