Later emphasizing on building a peaceful neighborhood, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on 06 May, 2014 that his country is committed to engaging India for peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, through sustained dialogue.
"We remain committed to reaching out to India and seeking peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, through a sustained dialogue. We believe the main dynamic in South Asia should be cooperation, not confrontation," Sharif said addressing the concluding session of Pakistan's Envoys Conference, focused on the Middle East.
Exit polls' results of Indian general elections have been announced and almost all pollsters are predicting thumping victory for the NDA. Sure, then in that case Narendra Modi is all set to takeover the charge as country's new PM. It's a welcome news for all his supporters spread all across the country. But should he become the Prime Minister the chances of the Indian Union government taking required steps towards resolution of Kashmir dispute would take the backseat.
First of all Modi is not Atal Bihari Vajpayee though the latter would discuss the issue with his Pakistani counterpart but would not yield even an inch from the stated official position of his party and that of the Indian Union government. So there is change only in style and not much in substances. But the stated position from Modi's side on Kashmir is to abrogate Article 370 calling for full merger of the troubled state with the rest of the Union of India.
Surely, Modi later diluted his stand by suggesting talks with all stakeholders on the issue before taking that crucial decision even if numbers permit doing so in the Parliament. I know for certain that abrogation of Article 370 is not possible without the consent of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Assembly, no matter what the strength of the BJP or for that matter that of the NDA be in the Parliament.
Anyway, Modi would not dilute his stand to that extent that he starts considering negotiating the status of Kashmir with his Pakistani counterpart. For him the undivided state of J&K as it existed before and during the time of the partition of then British India is an integral part of Union of India and the Article 370 and other constitutional provisions granting special rights and privileges to J&K Assembly are completely unacceptable and as per him negotiable and amendable to the exclusive wishes of executives and lawmakers sitting in New Delhi.
Now if he reiterates his pre-poll stand after assuming office, which is more likely than otherwise, then his stated position as a 'pacifist' would be to just maintain the status quo from Indian side. I do not know the Pakistani response then though it can play foul game in the Valley and wherever possible in the state and also in the rest of India. That would be a nasty step and such would complicate security situation in the region. It's almost certain that Modi would stick to his position minimally until up to mid of his term, should he become the Prime Minister of the nation.
As Dobbins himself accepts that there is nothing that the US can do unless and until India not accepts the fruitful nudging if not outright mediation by a third party. Sure, Indian economy is at an advanced stage and Indian officials can easily bargain non-intervention in what they would dub as India's internal matter with offer of investment opportunity into the nation. Also, the worsening of the US-Russian relations along with the rising tension of the US with China would highlight the status and importance of India in the region and around it.
Sharif can do little other than offering olive branch to Indian Prime Minister. There is nothing in the hands of Pakistan to convince Modi-led India to initiate peace talks over Kashmir. But Modi can start serious and genuine talks on all other aspects affecting the bilateral relations between the two estranged neighbors. Such comprehensive talks may include water sharing treaties, Siachin, Sir Creek, trade, security etc. Modi while taking a tough nationalist stand on Kashmir could take a relative conciliatory stand on these issues.
But then Pakistan may not be interested in having talks, without India discussing what as per its view is the core issue between the two nations. I do not think that Modi could be convinced to discuss the status of Kashmir dispute by any mean though he may allow his predecessor's policy of Track 2 diplomacy to continue.
In case, Modi somehow agrees then it would be additional welcome news. But then to hope for this would be to invoke either gods or ghosts or both under normal conditions as they exist as of now or those which can be predicted.
To be honest to Modi it would be a bit difficult thing for him to back down from his nationalist agenda after having successfully run the campaign for the Lower House of Parliament based on core Hindu nationalism. He needs to be answerable to his core support base. The US and even the UK would not have any leverage vis-a-vis Modi-government as they have criticized him too often in the past.
Modi would be a very egoist person and he cannot forget the criticism and opposition of the West that would last even after him getting elected as the Prime Minister of India. The US can hardly put any derivative cost on Modi-led government at such a critical phase in international diplomacy.
Sure, Modi would not agree and the West could not convince him either but the fact is that it is also a truth that without the BJP and its allies in the NDA agreeing to resolve the dispute, it is very difficult to achieve peace in the subcontinent. The other future incumbents in the 7 Race Course would feel political heat if the BJP does not support them in their efforts to seek resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
Now if the BJP vows never to soften its stand and to look Kashmir beyond the sovereignty argument and the rest of Indian polity surrenders to its whims then it would mean permanent bitterness and acrimony in India's bilateral relationship with Pakistan. The South Asia then would be a very dangerous place to be in. Kashmiri people would be very much disappointed then. But even otherwise the situation in Kashmir would be like having a harsh winter if Modi goes by his words.