February 2005 News

CIA Analysis And Indo-US Relations

9 February 2005
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak

Jammu: Strange - significant at the same time - is Islamabad's unwillingness to challenge some murmurs in Pakistan that PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is not Kashmir. These murmurs also seek redefine the 1947-48 history - one, PoK is occupied largely by Punjabi speaking people and Gujars, and, two, the real Kashmiris reside in India's Kashmir valley. Do the authors or protagonists of these loaded murmurs want to suggest that the Kashmir valley is the problem and, thus, the solution should centre around this and not PoK? True, India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has already convinced Pakistan President, Gen. Parvez Musharraf, that he is committed to a solution on Kashmir and that he is prepared to reach an agreement on this sooner than later. But Gen. Musharraf will have to admit and he will have to give up his larger ambitions for Jammu and Kashmir and work out a compromise that brings Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) into the scope of the solution as well. And the coin's another side: No need for New Delhi to assume that Gen. Musharraf is so desperate that he requires a solution to the Kashmir problem more than India does. It will be imprudent to assume that Gen. Musharraf cannot survive without a solution to the Kashmir problem sooner than later. New Delhi will have to acknowledge Gen. Musharraf's improved skills. In plain language, he has the option to go international and draw the world community back into Kashmir by generating violence that cannot be ignored. True, Pakistan has a powerful lobby inside the Valley of Kashmir. But Islamabad will have to accept that the greatest mistake it will make is an overestimation that it can make India bleed to a point where it has no option but to resolve the Kashmir issue. India has the ability and strength to meet any threat or challenge to its territorial integrity. Equally important is the fact that in Pakistan only the very extremist opinion still talks of accession of Kashmir. The larger majority of Pakistanis have been found willing to go along with any solution which does not go against India. The one solution that an the two countries can think of is a rough soft border. In this connection, greater emphasis will have to be laid on the need and relevance of reopening the Srinagar- Muzaffarabad road first and then of resuming human and vehicular traffic on the Jammu-Sialkot road. Islamabad has reservations, and hence, its demand for visa-free bus service between Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. India insists that passengers must carry passports. But Islamabad fears that it would be tantamount to accepting the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border. Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, is for confidence - building measures (CBMs) on Kashmir. And while highlighting business contacts between his country and India, he does want Islamabd to take note of the merits of New Delhi's insistence on passports for the passengers commuting between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. Kasuri is not off the mark when he says that in concrete terms India and Pakistan are not making much progress, not just on Kashmir but even on other issues. But he and his boss, Gen. Musharraf, cannot gain by ignoring India's concerns regarding the existence of terrorist training camps, launch pads, communication linkages across the Line of Control (LoC), and other terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan. New Delhi may not have a fool- proof policy on Jammu and Kashmir in the given situation. But the Manmohan Singh Government is quite clear on terrorism, which, it insists, has to be abandoned and cannot be made a condition on India fulfilling 'this or that'. It is an issue of major concern which, new Delhi says, will be addressed. Indeed, the Indian stand is that confidence building measures and people-to-people contacts are integral to finding mutually agreeable solutions on issues such as Jammu and Kashmir, which have bedevilled relations between the two countries. At a time when Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khurshid Kasuri, was quoted as saying that 'in concrete terms we are not making much progress, not just on Kashmir, but even on other issues,' the Government of India did not see eye to eye with the allegation that the peace process is stalling. In fact, New Delhi maintained that dialogue was on course and progressing well. To suggest that New Delhi must engage Islamabad in spite of the provocations might look like a weak-kneed policy. The policy will come under the charge that it will embolden the leadership in Pakistan to further intensify cross-border infiltration. This criticism, however, misses the central point that Pakistan remains the biggest strategic challenge to India.


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