Hopes low, stakes high when Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers meet

July 12, 2010

thimphuPerhaps one of the most telling features on the media commentary ahead of a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad this week is the lack of it. Expectations could hardly be lower.

Part of that is the nature of the actors involved. In India, policy towards Pakistan is set by the prime minister’s office, not the foreign ministry. So External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is not in a position to deliver the kind of breakthrough that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh achieved at a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani when both agreed at a meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan in April to try to find a way back into talks broken off by the November 2008 attack on Mumbai. In Pakistan, the army retains a tight grip on foreign and security policy, limiting in turn the kind of concessions that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi might make.

Part of the low expectations come too from the very limited agenda set for the talks - to work out ways of  reducing the huge trust deficit between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Or as the Indian foreign ministry described it in a terse statement on its website:

“In pursuance of the mandate given by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, during their meeting at Thimphu in April, 2010, to the Foreign Ministers and Foreign Secretaries of both the countries to work out the modalities of restoring trust and confidence in the relationship, thus paving the way for a substantive dialogue on issues of mutual concern, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister, Shri S.M. Krishna will visit Pakistan from July 14-16, 2010 for bilateral discussions at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

And they come too from a long and weary history of two countries which have tried, and repeatedly failed, to settle differences dating back to the partition of the subcontinent by departing British colonial rulers in 1947 – and indeed even before that when warring political parties wrangled over whether Muslims needed the protection of a separate homeland or whether they could achieve their political aspirations in a united India.

Over the years, any number of forums and formats have been tried out to find a way towards peace. There’s the formal peace process, known as the Composite Dialogue, broken off by India after the Mumbai attack blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, and yet to be resumed. There’s informal “backchannel diplomacy” – secret talks between special envoys held away from the glare of the media – which came near to a breakthrough on Kashmir in 2006-2007. Then there are “Track Two” talks – conferences held by intellectuals, politicians and retired military officers from India and Pakistan acting in a private capacity without the endorsement of their governments to try to seek common ground.

And equally, over the years, any number of proposals for peace have been put forward, from the “solve-Kashmir-first-and-the-rest will-follow” school of thought to incremental measures like increasing trade, relaxing visa restrictions and improving people-to-people contact in order to build enough confidence to start tackling the more contentious issues.

In the middle of those two approaches, are suggestions that India and Pakistan should try to resolve one of their conflicts which are substantial, but less emotional than the dispute over Kashmir – for example by ending the conflict fought over control of the mountains above the Siachen glacier in the Karakoram mountains since 1984.   That in turn would provide enough of a breakthrough to justify a peace summit between the leaders of the two countries and provide the momentum for intensive talks on resolving Kashmir.

Each one of those options has been tried (India and Pakistan had a tentative deal on Siachen as early as 1989); and each one of them has failed – often because some external event got in the way, from a big militant attack, to a change of government, to a major geopotical upheaval like the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that same year. So what will it take to break that logjam?

At your most pessimistic, you might conclude that both countries tend to make more progress towards peace after major crises. A near-war between India and Pakistan in 2001-2002 led to fresh talks and a ceasefire on the Line of Control dividing Kashmir in 2003 – one that has more or less held to this day. Even the 2008 Mumbai attack led, after an Indian election won in the middle of last year by the Congress party, to a fresh burst of diplomatic activity which eventually dissipated again into mutual recrimination.

If you wanted to find a historical parallel, you might argue that it took two world wars for France and Germany to settle their differences.

Yet neither India nor Pakistan can afford now to wait for a crisis to happen.  Over the last couple of years, Pakistan has faced its biggest existential challenge since 1971 (when then East Pakistan broke away to form Bangladesh); facing a wave of bombings which are gnawing through the country’s heartland Punjab province. Whatever else India might wish on Pakistan, it does not want to see its neighbour disintegrate in ways which would make Islamist militancy even harder to control, and bring the war in Afghanistan right up to its own borders. Add to that the dangers of all-out war between two countries with nuclear bombs, the missiles to deliver them, and a tendency to be over-complacent about how well they know each other — and therefore to misjudge each other’s red lines – and you have the potential for disaster that would make the nine-year Afghan war look like a sideshow.

The foreign secretaries, or top diplomats, of India and Pakistan have been working hard behind the scenes to pave the way for the talks between their foreign ministers.  More recently, they will have had to work out how to stop the latest flare-up in violence in Kashmir from souring the mood. We will find out this week whether they have come up with an imaginative way forward. Or whether the low expectations are justified. 

(Reuters photo:  Indian and Pakistani prime ministers in Bhutan)

Comments

Rajeev thanks for the link. I remember now I had seen it earlier.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

saif1981:

@Rajeev, I am okay with LOC but Kashmiris would be ‘cheated’. India will have broken Nehru’s ‘promise’ and Pakistan will have violated its ‘concern’ for kashmir’s self-determination. Not quite air-tight logic, i concede but a 3-way compromise nevertheless.”

—My idea for keeping LOC goes along with autonomy to Kashmir; Pakistan do the same. Indian Kashmir is already treated differently than other states (Article 370 and pouring money for development by India). Formal autonomy will not be a big deal for India–Kashmiris stay within India and still control themselves; enjoy the benefits of growing India. Kashmir in Pakistan can do the same.

@Pakistan will have violated its ‘concern’ for kashmir’s self-determination.”
—I am surprised to hear this from you. Saif, where is self-determination for kashmiris in AJK. Who are allowed and disallowed in politics of AJK. Are pro-India and those who want independence of kashmir allowed to survive? Pre-determination (Kashmir stays with pakistan) is so formal that one should not doubt that Pakistan is least concerned about “self-determination” of kashmiris. compare this with Article 370 and the benefits (exclude other factors like “100,000″ killing). if you have not, read UN human rights report on AJK.
http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11156/section  /1

Should India fulfill Nehru’r promise (which in any way is not Kashmir Valley alone) or look at the future of the region? WE need to see long-term also.

@your question about pundits; kashmiri movement was secular, if there is a settlement, I am certain sufi inspired kashmiriyat would welcome their kashmiri brethren. in some sense even the pandits of the vale would compromise as well with an independent kashmir. their security and role in govt. would be guaranteed in a lebanon type setup ?”
–Saif

–Saif, with Kashmiri Pundits driven out of the Valley, where is the “secular” part of the Kashmir movement? The best I can say is the movement has been successfully hijacked by pakistan-based terrorists. The only way is that these terrorists back off and let the movement take its form.

Could you please explain the “Lebanon type set up”?

Independent Kashmir valley (India + Pak Kashmirs) with 90% Muslims (or so…) between India and Pakistan, with Pak having a history of proxy wars over territorial disputes and with issues like Gurdaspur and such ,,,,, is an ideal play ground for future anti-India activity. It is short-sighted option and is pain for all in the region.

There is a deafening silence here on Reuters!

Thanks

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

India will have broken Nehru’s ‘promise’
==
How about Pakistan ideologues not keeping any of the promises they made!

Either you haven’t read partition history and/or conditioned by pakistani (twisted) version of history.

Jinnah/Muslime League claimed minorities will be safe in new Pakistan. They took no effort to stop the ethnic cleansing unlike India, where Congress/ Nehru reassured and asked muslims to stay. Current status of miniscule minority of hinds/sikhs is nothing to write home about.

Jinnah/ML claimed new Pakistan will be a friend and relationship will be like US- Canada. In no time post 14-8-47 Jinnah immediately announced to be desiring of pakistan becoming US lackey. Then one heck of confrontation all the way for 63 years.

What do you think? We are all motivated by self-interest, aren’t we?

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev,

1. How is “irrelevant borders” any different than the status quo or India’s desired outcome. It seems to give India exactly what it wants and the opposite of what kashmiris want according to your own linked report.

2. It would be dishonest of me to say Azad Kashmir is the model for true autonomous democracy. Especially after reading your report’s summary. However, I think your own position sheds some light on the situation. India invests heavily in JK, provides a great deal of autonomy vis-a-vis AJK. Even I admit, India offers better economy, improving living standard, education etc. Yet Kashmiris are still disproportionately more dissatisfied in JK versus AJK. I think the immediate reflex is to say – Pakistan stoked the fire but surely the fire was already there. I was a little taken aback by this statement: (exclude other factors like “100,000? killing). Surely, this is not just a factor that can sanitized by Article 370. My point in bringing this up is not to say, “India bad, Pakistan Good” but to reinforce my case for an independent Kashmir acceptable to Pakistan and possibly palatable to India. Kashmiris have shown us for 63 years, they want their own country. For the Kashmiris, The 100,000+ may be too much sacrifice to settle for anything less than their own country.

Posted by saif_1980 | Report as abusive
 

3. Regarding the pandits, I post annoying questions to Kashmiris just as I do here. They tell me that it is the Pandits that are ‘communalists’. They say Pandits want to be with India on the basis of religion with complete disregard for the wishes of the majority which does not want to join islamic republic of pakistan but have their own independent secular country. They also say pandits have collaborated with the security forces to oppress and massacre the kashmiris. You may see this type of discussion yourself in kashmiri forums.

4. Pakistan is not as irrational and hateful as Indians may think. We may have been aggressive (perceived as retaliation here) but it does not extend beyond Kashmir. If kashmir was settled, the state would not engage any kind of harassment as some have suggested. Perhaps a no-war pact would seal the deal.

Thanks.

Posted by saif_1980 | Report as abusive
 

Easy Things Firsts sounds like a good plan if a reasonable and genuine time-line is set to resolve the ‘core’ issues in a somewhat equitable fashion on the basis of compromise.

One thing with delayed negotiations is the danger of what I would call the fourth constituency. This group would be extremists, ultra-nationalists on both sides who will do everything in their power to derail a prolonged process. Other parties disinterested in Pak/India settlement would be China, Western Arms Traders, anyone opposed to a potential South Asian Economic Union.

Posted by saif_1980 | Report as abusive
 

Saif and all:

Saif, thanks for the post. as a response, much of what I will write will be repetion. I will get back to it later if needed.

For now let us move ahead:

1. Let us say Kashmir valley (India Kashmir + AJK) is independent. What stops Pakistan from playing dirty like it did it in the past?

Do these pacts treaties any real mechanism to control covert activities of a neigbouring nation knowing very well how hard it is to nail down Hafeez Sayeed et al with all solid proofs of his gangs involvement in Mumbai 26/11. Is UN strong enough to regulate this, knowing that it looked away when genocides happened in the past.

2. What makes you think that a new nation Kashmir will be free of terrorism when all countries around are soaked in it? It will like a magnet for terrorism, Kashmiris want or not. Are we looking for another Afghanistan like India-Pak play here? Kashmiris are no Afghans. who will watch that LeT and cousins are not in Kashmir.

3. What will stop Pakistan to take over Kashmir? It has tried and done in the past.

4. who will put on leash terrorists from Pak with grander designs?

5. you said “Pakistan is not as irrational and hateful as Indians may think”. I cannnot swallow this. some Pakistanis may no be but Pakistan is. do not take me wrong history does not support you. with all due respect, you can do mental gymnastics but what we have got in Pakistan is a population bred on anti-India hate—(I hope u read the spdi report on mainstream Pak education system). these people will make politicians and army generals. so u can calculate. Kashmir solution will be taken as “we taught these infidels the lesson”. Believe me I am no RSS guy here.

6. what are the Indo-Pak issues other than Kashmir?

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Saif,

“Historical injustice?”

May I delve a bit on this please, because I would like to be clear on the nature of this injustice.

The terms of the Radcliffe Commission which determined the shape of Pakistan were very clear. These terms were not just dictated by the British but were agreed to by the Muslim League and Congress. Albeit in a slip shod manner, but they were agreed upon.

1. Contiguous Muslim dominated areas would be given to Pakistan. Please note the term contiguous. The commission would also take into consideration ‘other factors’ (left undefined and this created problems in Punjab – Gurdaspur being one example)).

2. Areas ruled by Princes etc were given a choice to choose either country or declare independence.

3. The rest was India.

Now the ruler of Kashmir made a choice, after mush dithering. That choice was forced on him by the Pakistani invasion. Pakistani ‘tribals’/invaders what you will, started attacking Kashmir in early Oct ’47. In spite of requests from him, the Indians refused to come to his aid as Kashmir at that time was not a part of India. Finally in the last week of Oct he acceded to India. Once he did that, the state became an integral part of India under the agreed terms of the partition. It was only then that India intervened. These dates can be checked out by anyone.

Where then is the ‘historical injustice’?

Kashmiris feel let down by Nehru’s broken promise.

Saif, it was not Nehru who broke a promise. It was Pakistan that failed to keep a commitment made to the UN –

That commitment was to withdraw all troops/tribesmen and Pakistani nationals, not resident to Jammu and Kashmir.

India was to keep the minimum force required to maintain law and order.

Thereafter conditions for the plebiscite were to be met and it was to be held.

I think you will agree that Nehru did not break a promise but could not keep his promise. Pakistan never withdrew its troops or nationals and hasn’t done so to this day, Saif this is the history of this problem.

Nehru was unable to fulfill his promise is also open to discussion in India. It has been argued that the original idea of a plebiscite was given by Mountbatten and jurists have maintained that the Governor General was not empowered to give such a commitment. However, let that pass, because he couldn’t have done so without consulting the India Govt.

I think the real issue is, in my opinion, the one that is the breaker. Pakistan is a country created by Jinnah’s insistence on a Muslim nation. The bedrock of India’s basis is that it is for all regardless of religion. This is the real stumbling block. Much as India’s secular credentials get tested time and again, it has by and large maintained its secularity. Remember there are still almost as many Muslims in India as there in Pakistan. And according to the National Sample Survey, growing at 14%. There are aberrations but people do live freely without persecution, much as Pakistanis here may find it hard to believe.

This brings me to another point. Rajeev mentioned the fear of an independent Kashmir becoming a pawn in the hands of all its neighbours, not just Pakistan. That is just one aspect- albeit a big concern. To me the wider ramification of an Independent Kashmir is the problems that Indian Mulsims will have to bear up with. We are secular but there is fundamentalism too. Anyone who thinks there will not be a backlash on innocents is living in cuckoo land.

An independent Kashmir has other ramifications too – haven’t the people of Balochistan expressed similar views? I am not saying this as to score brownies. I really mean it as a painful fallout of Kashmir for Pakistan itself.. Will Pakistan be able to contain what is a surge for Baloch freedom? On what grounds? The Baloch turmoil is as old as Kashmir too. They too will claim historical injustice.

The most basic issue, to me as I said earlier, is the foundation on which our two countries have based their existence. It seems as impossible as tryong to converge two parallels.

Again I repeat, even though it has very few takers here, it is only through people getting to know each other better and benefitting from the exchanges between them that an atmosphere may eventually be created where the rulers on both sides are assured of support from their own people. Think about it.

We cannot create solutions here. We can however create conditions wherein people themselves will accept that there has to be give and take. We started off saying lets think up solutions without government – we cannot. We have to make conditions where the governments can be emboldened to tackle the issues in a spirit of give and take.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

For those who have read through my whole essay above, I can only salute your patience. I found it a bother to even proof read it! ;)

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

Saif,

You make many good points.

> 1. How is “irrelevant borders” any different than the status quo or India’s desired outcome. It seems to give India exactly what it wants.

That’s the way it would appear, but to be fair to India, remember that its position has moved from “we have rights to ALL of Kashmir” to “OK, you keep what you have and we’ll keep what we have”. It is actually a compromise. Both India and Pakistan started off by claiming ALL of Kashmir. India is now moving to the midway position. Pakistan still sticks to the ALL position.

> 2. It would be dishonest of me to say Azad Kashmir is the model for true autonomous democracy. Especially after reading your report’s summary. [...] Even I admit, India offers better economy, improving living standard, education etc. Yet Kashmiris are still disproportionately more dissatisfied in JK versus AJK. I think the immediate reflex is to say – Pakistan stoked the fire but surely the fire was already there. [...] Kashmiris have shown us for 63 years, they want their own country. For the Kashmiris, The 100,000+ may be too much sacrifice to settle for anything less than their own country.

That certainly seems to be the case. I personally believe that the terrorism angle is preventing India from letting go. Letting go now would feed the perception that India has yielded to threats. I would really like to see a relaxed atmosphere for a few years, then a solution can be worked out without anyone appearing weak or otherwise losing face.

>3. Regarding the pandits, I post annoying questions to Kashmiris just as I do here. They tell me that it is the Pandits that are ‘communalists’. They say Pandits want to be with India on the basis of religion with complete disregard for the wishes of the majority which does not want to join islamic republic of pakistan but have their own independent secular country. They also say pandits have collaborated with the security forces to oppress and massacre the kashmiris. You may see this type of discussion yourself in kashmiri forums.

I agree things don’t seem clear-cut, and there are always two sides to every story. I can’t help thinking that “irrelevant borders” is a very real solution to this dilemma.

> 4. Pakistan is not as irrational and hateful as Indians may think. We may have been aggressive (perceived as retaliation here) but it does not extend beyond Kashmir. If kashmir was settled, the state would not engage any kind of harassment as some have suggested. Perhaps a no-war pact would seal the deal.

Judging from your writings, I am confident that this attitude probably describes your own position. Unfortunately, we have also seen the statements of rather extreme people. The fear among many Indians is that Kashmir may not be the end of hostility but the beginning of further blackmail. As DaraIndia says, we need to foster a more tolerant attitude on a people-to-people level, then our governments will find the courage to do the right thing rather than take extreme positions.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

1. Let us say Kashmir valley (India Kashmir + AJK) is independent. What stops Pakistan from playing dirty like it did it in the past?

A) I believe this is based on a faulty assumption that Pakistan has designs on the rest of India. This is equivalent to phobia in Pakistan of ‘atoot tang’. Remember, Pakistan did not protest over junagarh, hyderabad except for comparisons to kashmir.

Do these pacts treaties any real mechanism to control covert activities of a neigbouring nation knowing very well how hard it is to nail down Hafeez Sayeed et al with all solid proofs of his gangs involvement in Mumbai 26/11. Is UN strong enough to regulate this, knowing that it looked away when genocides happened in the past.

A) This is a tough one, I will come back to it.

2. What makes you think that a new nation Kashmir will be free of terrorism when all countries around are soaked in it? It will like a magnet for terrorism, Kashmiris want or not. Are we looking for another Afghanistan like India-Pak play here? Kashmiris are no Afghans. who will watch that LeT and cousins are not in Kashmir.

A) The assumption is Pakistan/India will be friends and perhaps allies if our core issues are settled. I think it is arrogant for us to think of kashmiris as incapable of self-governance. Even if your fears came to fruition, India could easily place a million soldiers around AJK-KV to protect herself. To support the little state, we could make Srinagar the Brussels of South Asia where we are mutually vested in its prosperity.

3. What will stop Pakistan to take over Kashmir? It has tried and done in the past.

A) Paksitan’s invasions were attempts to ‘recover’ DISPUTED territory. In my scenario, Kashmir would be an independent country recognized by the United Nations. Pakistan has a very good record of respecting soverign states.

4. who will put on leash terrorists from Pak with grander designs?

A) That’s what our assumption is based on. Pakistan destroying the terrorist apparatus.

5. you said “Pakistan is not as irrational and hateful as Indians may think”. I cannnot swallow this. some Pakistanis may no be but Pakistan is. do not take me wrong history does not support you. with all due respect, you can do mental gymnastics but what we have got in Pakistan is a population bred on anti-India hate—(I hope u read the spdi report on mainstream Pak education system). these people will make politicians and army generals. so u can calculate. Kashmir solution will be taken as “we taught these infidels the lesson”. Believe me I am no RSS guy here.

A) The government has been combative but the people are quite friendly. Pakistanis extended tremendous hospitality to Indian cricket fans several years back. To get rid of the infidel-hating beards, why not help Pakistan get there?

6. what are the Indo-Pak issues other than Kashmir?

A) Water is the only other major issue. Everything else is an opportunity.

Posted by saif_1980 | Report as abusive
 

Saif and all:

I think it boils down to looking at the situation in reverse way: What are the pre-requisites for peacefully addressing Kashmir issue and mutual peace in Indian/Pak?

I have concerns about the viability of any solution on K-issue. Many will have similar concerns. It requires that India and Pakistan get along well. I personally do not trust Pakistan at this point—and the feeling is mutual I am sure. As has been suggested by Dara, Ganesh and yourself, India-Pak–economy/trade, people to people contact, all sorts of links need to open up, student exchange programs begin need to start—-without compromising security; hostilities in any fashion must stop–be that issuing those inflammatory statements from either side or the use of non-state actors. Media must not be used as a medium to express concerns. Set up some mechanism.

So all of the above is not a “pre-condition” in negative term as politicians spin it. It is to facilitate the solution.

Pakistan needs to be clear about who really rules the country. This is not anymore a domestic issue since PA pulls strings to control politicians and they cannot do a thing without asking PA. This has been a huge hurdle except when Musharraf was President and the backchannel talks started. All positive gestures by Pak politicians for India have been ridiculed by PA.

@It seems to give India exactly what it wants and the opposite of what kashmiris want according to your own linked report.”
–NOt true, as others pointed, that is not what GOI’s position. AJK, GB, Shaksgam valley, Aksai China all are disputed and GOI officially claims them including L. Why Musharraf-Singh/Vajpayee were working on borders irrelevant solution? What was their basis? I think it was more out of what is practical. If India and Pakistan are unwilling to lose territory, the next best solution is what the back channels offered. May be I am mixing reality with dream (smiling).

@ I was a little taken aback by this statement: (exclude other factors like “100,000? killing). Surely, this is not just a factor that can sanitized by Article 370.”
—I am not approving or ignoring killings. My idea was to compare the constitutional status of Kashmiris in India and Pakistan in the absence of other factors. Let us always keep in mind that “100,000+” killings are the result of proxy war by Pakistan and IA action—India alone cannot be blamed for it as the propaganda is. Except for 1987 when GOI rigged the election, nothing of the sort happened later on. Election rigging is not restricted to Kashmir it happened in other Indian states in the past. Not anymore anywhere due to better voting system in place. Compare with AJK where in all 63yrs it is Islamabad that selects who will rule AJK and who will stay out. In Indian JK, Separatists boycott the election, not banned by India. So that was my point.

@3. Regarding the pandits, I post annoying questions to Kashmiris just as I do here. They tell me that it is the Pandits that are ‘communalists’. They say Pandits want to be with India on the basis of religion with complete disregard for the wishes of the majority which does not want to join islamic republic of pakistan but have their own independent secular country. They also say pandits have collaborated with the security forces to oppress and massacre the kashmiris. You may see this type of discussion yourself in kashmiri forums”
—–That Hindus left their native place due to terrorism is not restricted to Kashmir. It happened earlier in Punjab. Hindus living in smaller towns with not enough security migrated out of state or to bigger towns. My family stayed back but some of my relatives had to migrate. GOI did not collaborate with Hindus to move them. Sikhs do not blame Hindus for migrating. THis has been an allegation against K-Pundits that they disappeared overnight from valley because GOI planned this thing and that they collude with authorities. This is the worse thing that can happen when one is victim and is not considered a victim but an aggressor. How can I tell this K-Pundit girl I know of that Pundits are communal after she lost her mother and brother to violence by so-called “freedom fighters” (assumption is Pak-based terrorists or Kashmiris: I pick Pak-based terrorists since Kashmiris are not that cruel) and father was permanently mentally disabled, their house burnt in Sringar.

i do not go to many K-forums but I am sure this is unending discussion. Whether Pundits are communal or Muslims did not support Pundits enough, the point is neither supports that K-movement is secular. The displacement of half million K-Pundits killed the secular part of the movement. How many will go back to independent Kashmir is any body’s guess. In the absence of diversity, the Kashmir will not be the same. Where is the Kashmiriyat.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

So India’s position is to make LOC the international border.
I am not completely against this but where does this leave the Kashmiris? I imagine they would now be at odds with both Pakistan and India. They have paid the same price for independence that so many other nations have, including Pakistan, India from the british, Bangladesh from Pakistan, Afghanistan from Russia, Vietnam from china/france/usa. Will Kashmir be the hateful, resentful chechnya of south asia?

One of the reason, I want peace between India/Pak is so that we can get out of the clutches of our military. I have great admiration, respect and love for our troops in the trenches in safeguarding and defending our country, I just don’t like our generals running our government & cricket boards.

Regarding ‘historical injustice’, someone stated that it was a Pakistan problem not an India problem. Given our post-colonial history, I can understand India’s indifference to pakistan’s grievances whether they are legitimate or frivolous. I disagree though that it should be of no concern to India in the context of peace-negotiations. The sense of injustice ,in my opinion, is the most powerful emotion there is. Any settlement would require India to take these sensitivities of Pak & Kashmiris into consideration.

Posted by saif_1980 | Report as abusive
 

As I posted before Pakistan ideologues never kept their end of the bargain. For 63 years,  it has always been the story of Pakistan striking alliances with big powers to harass India.  In addition to providing massive aid, and military gadgets& weaponry used against India, USA was providing cover to Pakistani terrorism not only in JK but in other states of India.

Kashmir issue is residual project of TNT. India cannot accept TNT, this doesn’t mean India is not interested in peaceful and prosperous Pakistan with its current borders.  Indian muslim ambassadors who proudly represent India at UN and in Muslim countries have pointed this out repeatedly over 63 years. Rafiq Zakaria (Representative of India at UN and father of CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria) describes an incident at the UN in 1965, where he read a poem about why Kashmir will be /should be part of India, and ZA Bhutto angrily misbehaving towards him and walking out.

Nice exchange of ideas. We can continue to work on resolving problems without redrawing borders.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive
 

@So India’s position is to make LOC the international border.
—saif1981

–Saif this is pretty much what the backchannel talks was about between Ex-Pres Musharraf and ex-Indian PM Vajpayee and later on with PM Singh.

With Musharaf’s exit, Pakistan now has shifted its stance to older one.

@ Any settlement would require India to take these sensitivities of Pak & Kashmiris into consideration.
Posted by saif_1980

—First off let us not talk about pak and Kashmiris in the same breath about sensitivities–perhaps u did not mean that way. Let us keep 2 sensitivities separately and there is a India’s sensitivity too who got attacked few times over Kashmir. But I think Indian position is taken for guaranteed.

So autonomy was an idea to take care of the sensitivities. The world is not perfect. Autonmous Kashmir is much better than no Independent Kashmir.

There are unaddressed concerns of India as mentioned earlier if Kashmir becomes an independent nation.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Saif,

To continue the discussion which seems to be making progress :-) , you said:

> So India’s position is to make LOC the international border.
I am not completely against this but where does this leave the Kashmiris?

OK, this may be a naive position, but there may be many phases to the resolution to the problems of Kashmiris.

In the first phase, there is a significant cooling of political and military tension between Pakistan and India on account of the border agreement. That should stop the terrorist support that so angers India and Indian public opinion. This would be a prerequisite to subsequent phases.

In the second phase, we may see the relaxation of border controls when the terrorist threat abates. Then citizens on either side may freely cross over to the other country for business or pleasure. Gradually, the terms of these visas could be extended and even cover permanent residency, e.g., citizen of Pakistani Kashmir and permanent resident of Indian Kashmir and vice-versa.

In the third phase, cross-border property rights (especially for Kashmiris on either side) may follow. In this phase, Kashmiris do not yet have full self-determination other than free elections to their respective state governments, but the two parts of Kashmir are no longer divided in the sense of restrictions on travel, business, residency, property ownership, etc. This is the “irrelevant borders” phase which is the most that people seem willing to concede today.

In the fourth phase (and I admit this will be the most difficult), if irrelevant borders are not deemed sufficient freedom and Kashmiris on both sides still wish for independence, the two democratic nations of Pakistan and India may agree to hold a plebescite and withdraw from their sides. This scenario is unthinkable in today’s context, but who knows what changes in mindset will come about after a decade of peace?

> One of the reason, I want peace between India/Pak is so that we can get out of the clutches of our military. I have great admiration, respect and love for our troops in the trenches in safeguarding and defending our country, I just don’t like our generals running our government & cricket boards.

This is true of any party that has no accountability, and we see shades of this in every country including India. The PA is no exception, and it will be necessary to rein them in. Only you Pakistanis can do it, and we should all pray for a gradual strengthening of democratic institutions in Pakistan. (I’m not being smug here but sincerely hopeful.)

> Regarding ‘historical injustice’, someone stated that it was a Pakistan problem not an India problem. [...] Any settlement would require India to take these sensitivities of Pak & Kashmiris into consideration.

As Rajeev says, the sentiments of Pakistanis and Kashmiris are probably quite different and shouldn’t be clubbed together. The sentiments of Kashmiris probably revolve around independence and resentment against foreign oppression (whether Indian or Pakistani). The sentiments of Pakistanis probably revolve around the loss of Bangladesh, a sense of being cheated out of Kashmir, Indus water sharing and a dozen other smaller issues.

Yes, these will have to be addressed.

And again, as Rajeev pointed out, India has its share of sentiments too, mainly the feeling that we have put up with sustained provocation of a kind that would have caused any other country in our place to retaliate and annihilate our tormentor, i.e., that Pakistan is immensely lucky to have India as its constantly-provoked neighbour and not Israel, China, Russia or the US. Those are not countries that forgive provocation the way we have done (Compare India’s response to 26/11 (Mumbai), the Dec 3 attack on parliament and other attacks with Israel’s policy of “disproportionate response” towards all its enemies, China’s 1979 response to Vietnam’s “provocation”, Russia’s treatment of Georgia and the US response to 9/11). Pakistanis may disagree with this view (many may like to think it is weakness or fear rather than restraint) but we are talking about India’s *sentiments* here, so you should try and validate them even if you don’t agree!

I am sure many mutually conciliatory statements will be made by both sides if and when a border agreement is finally reached, so the sentiments on all sides may be assuaged. In most arguments, people want validation of their feelings as much as they want a settlement. I’m sure that will be part and parcel of any peace package.

Let’s stay optimistic.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

I think we have consensus that normalization of relationship will require more people to people contact, an effort at decreasing/eliminating misunderstanding.

I must add that in general electronic journalists (the bloggers) have played negative role so far (there are some genuine exceptions here). In my opinion, they are people with biases who have a handle to spreading the misinformation to large numbers of gullible audience who take their word as a fact. I look at them having a public rally and telling lies or spinning facts into the context of India-Pak relationship. This will require that spreading the misinformation about a country is stopped. Temptation is great but rewards are zero and rather this is waste of time and is so counterproductive. All these blogs need to keep overall broader picture in mind not just the short-term.

We need more fire extinguishers than more fuel. Blogs can pick whatever they want. This is not to say that the facts should be buried under the pile of political correctness.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh:

@And again, as Rajeev pointed out, India has its share of sentiments too, mainly the feeling that we have put up with sustained provocation of a kind that would have caused any other country in our place to retaliate and annihilate our tormentor, i.e., that Pakistan is immensely lucky to have India as its constantly-provoked neighbour and not Israel, China, Russia or the US. Those are not countries that forgive provocation the way we have done (Compare India’s response to 26/11 (Mumbai), the Dec 3 attack on parliament and other attacks with Israel’s policy of “disproportionate response” towards all its enemies, China’s 1979 response to Vietnam’s “provocation”, Russia’s treatment of Georgia and the US response to 9/11). Pakistanis may disagree with this view (many may like to think it is weakness or fear rather than restraint) but we are talking about India’s *sentiments* here, so you should try and validate them even if you don’t agree!”

—Ganesh: To that Pakistanis reflex would be to say that India would have done the same as the USA, Russia, China and Israel except that that Pakistan is no Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Vietnam and Palestine.

However, the fact that India did not wage war against Pakistan, especially even when Pakistan did not have nukes (and India did) supports your statement.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Thank you gentlemen, I have learned a great deal from you. Thanks for helping me understand your point of view. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we don’t hurl insults at each other.

Best Wishes.

Posted by saif_1980 | Report as abusive
 

Saif1980:

I wish there was more participation from Pakistan. Thank you to you and others for keeping the discussion on track. Hope to see you around.

Take care!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Saif,

Thanks to you too. Your non-partisan overture is what made this friendly exchange possible in the first place.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

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