India and Pakistan need to talk without putting preconditions in a bid to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir, the CPI-M has said.

The offer of talks with Pakistan that Home Minister Rajnath Singh has extended should be taken forward, an editorial in the CPI-M journal “People’s Democracy” said.

“But it cannot be conditional … that talks and terror cannot go together. If the National Security Advisors of the two countries can meet and talk, if the DGMOs can confabulate, there is no reason why a broader dialogue cannot be initiated with Pakistan,” it said.

“Just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to arrive at some modus vivendi with President Xi Jinping (of China) at Wuhan, similarly, there is the need for a diplomatic initiative on the Pakistan front,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.

But the editorial warned that people in the Kashmir Valley do not have much faith in the prospects of a political dialogue that could lead to a political settlement.

“This is because the situation in the valley has steadily deteriorated since the Modi government assumed office four years ago,” it said.

“The adoption of a hardline security stance and the use of coercive instruments of the state to suppress popular protests have only given a spurt to militancy which has now been energised by the influx of a large number of local youth.”

Referring to “the deep alienation that the people harbour towards the Indian State”, the CPI-M said: “What is required in order to start a meaningful dialogue is to take steps to restore some degree of trust between the people of Kashmir and the Centre.”

This, it said, would require a set of measures including extension of the current ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, the withdrawal of the use of pellet guns against stone-pelters and release of separatist leaders like Shabir Shah.

There should be an announcement that any excess committed by security forces on civilians would be investigated and prompt action taken, it said.

“If such measures are announced along with a specific offer for holding talks with the separatist leadership, then there is scope for a political dialogue to begin.”