July 27, 2016

Non-Official Dialogue between India and Pakistan: Prospects and Problems

Last updated: September 3, 2008


Aqil S Shah

Published by Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ACDIS Occasional Paper series
August 1997

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The past three decades have seen an acceleration in the involvement of non-official groups in the resolution of deeply rooted interstate conflicts. In South Asia, non-official efforts between India and Pakistan have intensified since 1990. Initiated by the United States Information Service (USIS) in Islamabad and New Delhi, the process has picked up momentum over the years, and at present there are more than forty such initiatives operating in South Asia.

This paper assesses the collective impact of these non-official contacts between India and Pakistan and the major constraints upon the dialogue process. The role of former officials in track two diplomacy (the Neemrana Dialogue) and that of the younger generation (Summer School) in contributing to a future peace process is discussed in detail. These are critically evaluated in terms of their utility and their flaws, and strategies to make these and other initiatives more meaningful are discussed.