Nudging India and Pakistan towards peace

September 13, 2008

Barricade of burning tyres in Srinagar/Fayaz KabliOne of the more recurrent themes in U.S. political punditry these days is the need to nudge India and Pakistan towards peace. The theory is that this would bolster the new civilian government in Islamabad by encouraging trade and economic development, reduce a rivalry that threatens regional stability, including in Afghanistan, and limit the role of the Pakistan Army, whose traditional dominance has been fuelled by a perceived threat from India.

So what are the chances of progress? (assuming the latest bombings just being reported in Delhi do not trigger a new downwards spiral)

President Asif Ali Zardari has got everyone talking by promising that there will soon be “good news” on Kashmir. An expected meeting  between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Zardari on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month would also give the two leaders the chance to repair relations soured by the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in July.  

It seems unlikely however, that India and Pakistan can make any real concessions on Kashmir, at a time when the people of the Kashmir Valley at the heart of the dispute have renewed their protests against Indian rule. In Pakistan this would be seen as a betrayal of the people of Kashmir, while in India the government would be accused of caving in to the protests.

Nubra valley, on the road to Siachen/Pawel KopczynskiOne alternative would be to try to resolve the dispute over Siachen, an idea revived this week by Zardari , as a way of building trust and creating an atmosphere to make progress on Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have fought for control of the mountains overlooking the Siachen glacier since 1984, although there has been a ceasefire since 2003. Apart from the troops stationed on the world’s highest battlefield, there is nothing there but snow, ice and rocks (believe me, I’ve been there), and many commanders on both sides have long accepted the region has no strategic value.  Siachen, in the Karakoram mountains, is quite geographically distinct from the Kashmir Valley — it would take you three days to drive from the Kashmiri capital Srinagar to the Indian base camp in Siachen, and then only if you were lucky — and it is a far less explosive issue to tackle.  What has been lacking is the trust and political will to agree a mutual withdrawal.

Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi came tantalisingly close to reaching a deal on Siachen in 1989 when they were young prime ministers seeking a fresh start for the region. With both now assassinated, it will be interesting to see whether their widowed spouses now in positions of power — Zardari in Pakistan and Sonia Gandhi in India as head of the ruling Congress party — try to complete what they started. 


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

India has a clean history, India never invaded any country including pakistan unless otherwise to retailate for an illegal invasion from pakistan. I disagree that pakistan was under militry dicators because of threat from India but i agree the militarty dicators created false impression of Indian threat in pakistan to justify their coup.
US political punditry is a crap, when they cannot themselves be in peace or tollerate with pakistan while they are in different continents, far apart..its very hard for one to imagine India to sit with pakistan for peace talks especially when India waits for time to payback pakistan for terror attack on parliament, attack on Inidan embassy, serial bomb blasts in Indian cities now serial blasts in New delhi. Nobody including united states can ever advocate that pakistan is a peaceloving country and the solution simply cannot be attained with just peace talks and diplomacy with pakistan.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

“Glaciers in the Himalayas provide headwaters for Asia’s nine largest rivers, a lifeline for the 1.3 billion people who live downstream. But healths of these glaciers are now at great risk as these Glaciers are melting with greater rate. The death sentence for Himalayan glaciers brought by Militaries of Arch rivels Pakistan and India,when Indian Army occupied the longest glacier –the Siachen—in 1978.
Melting of glaciers is not only basic cause of sea level rise that triggers various calamities like tsunamis, cyclones and earthquakes but melting of glacial ice is also deregulating climate pattern which results in abnormal rains, flood or drought. There are multifarious causes of melting of glaciers but the case of Siachen and other Himalayan glaciers is different. Unfortunately the world’s longest glacier, Siachen is melting with the fastest rate in the world. The extra ordinary melting of Siachen and other major Himalayan glaciers is due to human activities; particularly by militaries of both Arch rivals i.e. India and Pakistan are responsible.
The melting of Siachen glacier is due to the construction of permanent cantonments on either side of Saltoro ridge by the two arch rivals, heavy air traffic, cutting and melting of glacial ice to develop infrastructure to support troops, dumping of waste, leakages of kerosene oil from 250 km plastic pipeline laid by India throughout the glacier. Military activities are the clear evidence of human influenced warming the world’s largest glacier, which will have serious long-term repercussion on the water resources with climatic changes at regional and global level.
Three decade old territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over Siachen is only causing its melting alone but also causing melting of other Himalayan glaciers. The war over Siachen adversely effect on health of other Himalayan glaciers which are climate regulator and source of the all rivers of the eastern Hemisphere that feed half of humanity. The Glaciers within the Himalayas acts as the controlling body of the regional atmospheric circulation and splits the upper westerly winds in winter into northern and southern branches. The greatest retreat of Himalayan glaciers became noticeable since the mid 1980s when India stared developing infrastructure to sustain its tactical advantage at Siachen.
Astonishingly, India ratified the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty in 1996, to preserve the pristine nature of this remote continent, but ignores to protect the Himalayan Glaciers. Melting of Siachen and other glaciers is now significantly contributing to the rising of the oceans thus looming threat to global community living along the costal area. Keeping in view the importance and role it suggested declaring Siachen and other Himalayan as a GLOBAL HERITAGE”.

Posted by Dr. Moosa | Report as abusive

There are 3 options:-
1) Kashmir goes to Pakistan (India will never agree to that)
2) Kashmir goes to India (Pakistan will never agree to that)
3) Kashmir becomes independent which is what kashmiris want (both India and Pakistan will never agree to that)
I dont think talk/dialogue is going to do it as all parties have such divergent views, you can only negotiate if there is something common among the parties.

Best solution for Pak: keep the wound festering hoping for a revolution from within and for secession.

Best solution for India: keep the status quo and hope that Pak becomes so weak internally that they disintegrate themselves.

Pak had the upper hand till 9/11 but India currently is on top and will likely pressurize Pak into negotiating a “settlement” which will not solve anything but will get the “issue” off the table. Game theory 101.

Posted by Sohail in Srinagar | Report as abusive

Kashmir is not a problem,it is Pakistan since its birth.Now world has seen their home grown terrorist camps targeted previously to India but now they have spread across the world.
The real problen is pakistan and its existence,Pak has been ruled more by military dictators that the democratically elected leaders.Pak was never stable and didn’t leave the world in peace.Its becoz of their on evil deeds.Greed for Kashmir and weired intention to divide india.Fortunately they hasn’t been sucessful in the later but world peace is at great risk becoz of Pak nuke proliferation. and Terror export.No country in the world is safe from pakistani terrorists.
Now the world has realised this fact and recent US missile attack in Pak is signal to this.we need to disfunction pak ISI and military as soon as possible and handover the Pak to international peacekeepers.India can play a vital role in bringing Pak into democratic mainstream coz of its(India) long experience in dealing with pakistani terorist and well understanding of the region.One more important thing,Madrasas and Mosques need to be distroyed since it has been proved that most of the terror camps are being run from there.
I guarantee after this no one will mention there were ever kashmir problem.
Pakistan must be ruled by international forces to keep the world in peace.

Posted by Kumar | Report as abusive

macdonald,hmmmmmmmmmm,no wonder the article reads like a two pence hamburger.Dumb to the core, just visiting the Himalaya’s doesn’t makes a person any wiser than viiting Timbuktu!

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Dialogue is what has been going on till date, achieving and signifying nothing. primarily because of insincerity ,mostly from Indian side as the rhetoric of integral part never dies down ,so what if this integral part is manned by nearly a million troops, so what if bullets to keep this integral part are cheaper than blood, so what population of this integral part is terrorized every day by men in uniform, so what this integral part is a killing field where a stone gets a bullet. this is short story of this world’s most beautiful (prison) integral part
Zardari will be greeted, pampered and what not? obviously kept in good humor too , by the Indian establishments ,till the day he vanishes . Then starts the fresh repetitive cycle of dialgue from ground zero and the story goes on…61 years have passed India has been able to maintain the status quo ,in a view that one day the uniform will outnumber the inhabitants so that integration stands complete hence they no longer would be compelled to assure themselves with the integral part Verbose

Posted by Riyaz | Report as abusive

As far as I understand, there can be no peace until Kashmir issue is solved or unless they become mutually dependent on each other for one thing or the other, for e.g. economy.
And I don’t see anything happening on either front.
Kashmir issue can not be solved cause three parties want three different things (as already pointed out by Sohail)
The other option is then to make the LOC the international boundary, which Kashmiris will find difficult to accept.
So may be the Kashmir is divided into Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir. Kashmir either becomes independent or goes to Pakistan, Jammu and ladakh stays with India.
I see neither of these things happening.
So in the end it comes down to maintaining status quo which means no peace in the valley for years to come.

Also, it is amazing the one of the most aggressive country in recent history (read USA, what with its preemptive war policies) expects India, which doesn’t meddle with others affairs to be in peace with a country which is known to provided a safe haven to terrorists.. Ironic isn’t it?

Posted by Aman | Report as abusive

Kashmir issue or no Kashmir issue, the problem will be there as far as the Pakistan and Radical muslims are there. Kashmir is just an excuse. These people don’t have any constructive work to do and their religion is everything for them. Today i visited a Muslim area in India and it was a massive shock to see such a filthy area. Small kids were everywhere. Why can’t these people have an agenda of upliftment of themself and provide their kids with good education and economically stable instead of taking over the nation by produing more kids and leaving them to work for themselves since young age?. People like these are the threat to the whole world and some thing needs to be done to educate them.

Posted by Sudhir | Report as abusive

People like these are the harmless reality of the whole world and some thing needs to be done to un-educate the educated morons like yourelf. Consult a pychatrist.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

As long as extrimist to believe on there religion than economic growth and coexistance, India and Pakistan will have hard time to solve Kashmir issue…..Practically Pakistan have more extremist at this moment……In india they do exists but good thing is that still not enough motivated to start “Hindu version of Jihad”

Posted by Shri | Report as abusive

Mr. India you sounds to me like a Mr. Pakistani. Just verify yourself. You go to Goripalya in Bangalore which is a 100% muslims area and check how filthy that area is. You go to any slum in Bangalore you will find Majority Muslims there. Isn’t it true that Muslims have a higher birth rate than Hindus in India?. I am not a radical Hindu. I want just want to see my country as a developed nation free of unscrupulous elements and terrorists so that peace can prevail and economic development to continue.

Posted by Sudhir | Report as abusive

Pakistan is a world problem which has created unrest in indian kashmir for decades.pakistan terror factories are producing more and more terrorist to kill innocent hindus in kasmir and declare kashmir as a muslim state.Tens of thousands of hindus has been killed by these coward pakistani muslim terrorists.Hundreds of thousads of kashmiri re living outside kashmir in refugee camps.kashmir has become a muslim majority vally without any hindu ,this vally is being changed in to taliban.
There won’t be any peace on earth withouth complete destruction of pakistan.This terrorist state is heavily engagged in terrorists production and their export throughout the world to kill innocent people.We need to destroy Pakistan in order to establish peace in the world ,thats only way to bring peace back in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s army,isi,mosques and madrasas and the mosques need to be eliminated to ensure world peace .US recent attack on pakistan is a good start in this direction.
Evils must be destroyed.

Posted by Kumar | Report as abusive

The filth of Goripalya that repulses you is a reflection of your own inner filth – intolerance, false sense of superiority(sic), violent thoughts, xenophobia etc. etc. I can go on endlessly & all this filth is of your own choice, whereas the poor of India bear it out of no choice, administrative failures & the apathetic approach of people like yourself.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive


Ok Pakistani, Goripalya and other slums in Bangalore are paradise on earth and i have a filthy n sick mind. You didn’t deny that you are a Pakistani nor that Muslims are producing more kids than Hindus in India and not providing majority of them with education and decent chilhood. Why is that when every bomb goes off in Indian cities that some mujahideen lowlife guy sends an e-mail in the name of your god Allah and claim responsibility?. This futher strengthens the belief and stereotypes against Muslims. Sudhir is my real name and why don’t you come with your real name?.

Posted by Sudhir | Report as abusive

Pakistan is a wrong name for the separatist Indian state(soon to be declared a terrorist state)it should be called Papistan henceforth. But the type of prejudices that are recently being voiced by many in India have the same deadly potential to erode India’s credentials & lead to it’s further disintegration,so don’t fall prey to hate propaganda & jingoism.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

@ Sudhir,
Let me clarify that I am a Hindu. So you don’t blame me. :)
Now the filth you saw exists in all the slums. India is anyways not the cleanest of the country.
So saying Muslims are filth is wrong. Imagine there are 180 million Muslims in India and they chose to stay here when Pakistan was created, that says a lot. I have interacted with a few of them and they seem normal to me at least the educated class. And if you say they are a problem for this country then just stop and ponder.. ain’t your extremist views a threat for this country? Practically you can’t remove all the 180 million people from here.
I don’t believe that all Muslims are bad if they were India would have been dead twice by now.. even if 1% are bad then that is 1.8 million.. imagine so many bombs.. do you really believe there are so many bombs??
Also, this topic was not Muslims but Pakistan. Stick to the point my dear.

Posted by Aman | Report as abusive

Only in peace would both countries prosper

Posted by Lec Neli | Report as abusive

WoW, Lec Neli, What a unique,brilliant idea! lol

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

Bismillah-E-Rehman-E-Rahim, Sab Hindu bhaiyo ko bhi Ram-Ram,

Terrorists O Terrorists,






insallah humari fatah aur hindustan ke dushmano ki shikast hogi !!!

Allah hafij

Julfikar Ali on behalf of all Delhi Muslims
New Delhi

Posted by Julfikar Ali | Report as abusive