Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
from India Insight:
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a senior Kashmiri separatist leader, has urged Saudi Arabia to use its influence and bring India and Pakistan closer to solve the decades-long conflict over the disputed Himalayan region.
Farooq arrived in the Kingdom last Thursday to perform the Umrah pilgrimage and his visit, two weeks after the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is being considered significant.
Farooq is chairman of Kashmir's moderate separatist alliance -- the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
Saudi Arabia has old and close ties with Muslim Pakistan and has also been mentioned as a possible mediator in any political settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where India and Pakistan have been battling for influence since long.
from India Insight:
The Indian government has for the first time offered amnesty to hundreds of Kashmiris who had crossed over to the Pakistani part of Kashmir and are now willing to surrender and return home.
Thousands of Kashmiris have slipped into Pakistan-administered Kashmir for arms training since an anti-India insurgency broke out twenty years ago.
There is a time and a place for everything and back in the days of the Obama election campaign the idea that progress on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan could help turn around the flagging military campaign in Afghanistan looked plausible. The argument, much touted by Washington think-tankers, was that Pakistan would not turn against Afghan Taliban militants on its western border as long as it believed it might need to use them to counter India’s growing influence in Afghanistan, and as long as it felt the need to keep the bulk of its army on its eastern border with India.
Even in the middle of last year, when Pakistan and India made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to revive peace talks which had been frozen since the attack on Mumbai at the end of 2008, the possibility of a “grand bargain” from Kashmir to Kabul still carried some resonance.
from India Insight:
One of the world's longest-running separatist insurgencies, one that has killed tens of thousands of people in Kashmir, completed two decades last month.
The strife-torn region witnessed a period of relative calm, but a recent spate of rebel attacks is a grim reminder of the tensions in Kashmir at the heart of enmity between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.
Pakistani cricketers, the press and ordinary people are livid about their players’ exclusion from India’s Premier League , the game’s most lucrative tournament played out before a vast television audience. Eight Indian teams that take part in the tournament bid for players from around the world, doling out large sums of money. But nobody bid for the 11 Pakistani players on the list, includng some who were part of the Pakistani squad that won last year’s World Cup Twenty20 tournament, the three-hour version of the game that the IPL is also played in.
It’s not that they were not good enough. They are some of the best the game has to offer. It’s that the people who own the teams fear the Pakistani players may face dificulties getting visas or that tensions between the two countries, already rising, could make things dificult for them So why put money on them ?
from Afghan Journal:
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is heading to India, and one of the things Washington is looking at is how can regional players such as India do more in Afghanistan. "As we are doing more, of course we are looking at others to do more," a U.S. official said, ahead of the trip referring to the troop surge.
But this is easier said than done, and in the case of India, a bit of a minefield. While America may expect more from India, Pakistan has had enough of its bitter rival's already expanded role in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Indeed, Afghanistan is the new battleground on par with Kashmir, with many in Pakistan saying Indian involvement in Afghanistan was more than altruistic and aimed at destabilising Pakistan from the rear. Many in India, on the other hand, point the finger at Pakistan for two deadly bomb attacks on its embassy in Kabul.
A nearly 24-hour gunbattle this week between militants and Indian security forces in the centre of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is a powerful reminder of the tensions in the region at the heart of enmity between India and Pakistan. Two people were killed along with the two militants - one of whom was described by police as a Pakistani - in the biggest attack in Srinagar in two years. Hundreds of people, who had become accustomed to relative calm after years of separatist violence, had to be rescued from nearby buildings.
The attack itself might or might not turn out to be an isolated incident. But what is troubling is that it took place within the context of a deterioration in relations between India and Pakistan.
When President Barack Obama suggested in Beijing last month that China and the United States could cooperate on bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and indeed to “all of South Asia”, much of the attention was diverted to India, where the media saw it as inviting unwarranted Chinese interference in the region.
But what about asking a different question? Can China help stabilise the region?
The Pakistani Taliban are warning the Pakistani military that it faces a fight in Waziristan tougher than Kashmir where the Indian army has struggled to quell a 20-year armed revolt.
It must be a rather bitter irony for the Pakistani army to be dealt such a warning from an umbrella militant group, several of whose members it once nurtured to fight the Indian army in Kashmir.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has held out an olive branch to Pakistan by renewing an offer to talk, while also calling on it to take action against militants operating from its territory. India’s Press and Information Bureau has the excerpts of a speech delivered in Kashmir. in which Singh held out “a hand of friendship” to Pakistan. It’s worth reading in detail because it was clearly carefully prepared, endorsed politically by Congress president Sonia Gandhi who accompanied the prime minister, and according to The Hindu newspaper. an attempt to advance the peace process with Pakistan.
India and Pakistan, he said, had made progress in peace talks started in 2004, and had been able to open up trade and travel across the Line of Control (LoC), the ceasefire line dividing Kashmir. “These are not small achievements given the history of our troubled relationship with Pakistan.”