India Toughens Stand Before Talks With Pakistan
17 December 2004
The Times of India
New Delhi: As India and Pakistan prepare to go in for the second round of composite dialogue on December 27-28, India proposes to lob the 'resolution' ball right back into Pakistan's court, stating it is not game for a solution envisaging the recognition of Line of Control (LoC) as the border. India's official re-invoking of the 1994 parliamentary resolution that claims all of Kashmir as Indian territory under illegal Pakistani occupation is only the recent evidence of the tough line India proposes to take at negotiations with Pakistan. Hitherto, Pakistan has been the one to publicly object to the LoC as a solution, with even President Pervez Musharraf opposing it. India was left as the perceived owner of a proposal to formalise the LoC as border, somewhat diluting its negotiating effectiveness and making it even sounding defensive against a seemingly robust Pakistani position. The perception was strengthened because India never publicly challenged the widely held view that it was willing to let go of PoK and Northern Areas. But as the foreign secretaries' meeting approaches on December 27-28, India will be firming up its position, taking off from PM Manmohan Singh's statement that laid down the parameters for a peace settlement with Pakistan - no redrawing of India's borders and no more partitioning of the country. This taken together with the UPA government's position that only elected representatives of the state could qualify as 'representatives of the Kashmiris' shows the contours of India's negotiating position. India's tough stance comes as Pakistan has resorted to 'cherry picking' in the peace process. For instance, during the latest round of talks on nuclear and conventional CBMs, there was precious little movement on the former, and absolutely no progress on the conventional CBMs, demonstrating better than ever that the peace process still needs a lot of 'push'.