Why Pervez Wants Troop Pullout From Parts Of J&K
15 September 2005
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: A secret four-decade-old negotiation between India and Pakistan, pushed and directed by the United States and United Kingdom, may hold the key to the question as to why Pakistan wants an Indian military pullout from Kupwara and Baramulla districts. According to Pakistan's ambassador to the US, General Jehangir Karamat, after raising the issue in his talks with President George W Bush, President Pervez Musharraf made the proposal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday as well. Reports from New York would indicate that the suggestion, which has mystified officials, found little favour with Singh who said progress in J&K can only take place if there was complete cessation of infiltration and violence. Of all persons, Karamat, a former army chief, would know that the primary militant infiltration routes into the Valley run through these districts and the proposal would be unacceptable to India in the present ground conditions of J&K. Actually, the Pakistani demand could hold a hint to a line that Pakistan intends to pursue in its current negotiations on J&K. This is a partition of the Valley, which will give these two districts to Pakistan. While Indian and Pakistani documents on the six rounds of negotiations that took place between them in 1963 remain classified, declassified American papers suggest that at one point India was willing to consider giving the 'north-west' part of the Valley to Pakistan. The Indian position was summed up in a memo from US Secretary of State Dean Rusk to President John F. Kennedy on April 25, 1963: 'Indians have not been willing to go beyond minor border adjustments barring apparently to the extent of an offer of the northwestern third of the vale to Pakistan.' By this time, five rounds of talks had taken place between the two sides, including the offer of a 'bazaar level' deal to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru by US ambassador J.K. Galbraith for US military aid in exchange for Indian concessions on partitioning the Valley. Nehru, who had earlier been willing to make minor concessions, apparently exploded in rage because the US upped the demand to include Srinagar district as well and that more-or-less ended the process. After six rounds of talks in May 1963, both India and Pakistan concluded that the Valley should not be partitioned, and no agreement could be reached. In the present context, India insists that there can be no redrawing of boundaries along religious and ethnic lines and Pakistan maintains that the Line of Control as an international border cannot be a solution. Pakistan may be considering an offer involving an administrative division of the Valley with the 'soft border' arrangement as a means of satisfying its own public opinion. Where that leaves the Kashmiris is quite another thing.