Saturday, December 5, 2009

Under The Surface

I am personally glad to see that Indian government has taken a very pragmatic view for solving political problems whether internal or with neighbours. Despite big statements that we will not talk to Pakistan, there have not been many occasions when people have been so optimistic about resolution of Kashmir dispute. The Manmohan Singh/ Sonia Gandhi signature is all over the modus-operandi of this process. The surface appears calm but underneath, a lot of churning is going on.

The first step towards resolution of Kashmir dispute was taken during the meeting of Manmohan Singh with Parvez Musharraf on the sidelines of UN general assembly[1]. Dr. Singh quietly laid down the basic rules of the game that 'maps cant be redrawn.' Surprisingly, Musharraf did not object to the idea but rather worked on it. Even more surprising the was that such a big agreement did not grab the lime light of media. It is believed that India and Pakistan almost came to an agreement on the Kashmir dispute [2] but then events unfolded in Pakistan leading to the oust of Musharraf and ending in 26/11 which robbed the governments of the will to take forward these agreements publicly.

Now quiet talks between the separatists [5] and some say between India and Pakistan [3][4] have proven to be more fruitful than, an all open to media, Agra like event. India has deftly encouraged the moderate leaders of Hurriyat Conference to have faith in the government and has build an international environment for the resolution of the dispute at the same time. The omens are clear. After a long slumber, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) wakes up when Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the chairman of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, meets them and OIC announces an envoy to Kashmir[6]. Thus giving support to Mirwiaz as a leader of Kashmir who can make things move and also bringing the Islamic countries on the table so that the final solution has the blessings of the larger Islamic world and hence making sure that no voices are raised in the name of religion after the matter is settled.

Later, Delhi decides to allow Mirwaiz to go to Pakistan and even China [7] [9] . Many saw the reference to Kashmir problem in Sino-US statement [8] as something harmful for India but it may turn out be even beneficial. China covers almost a fifth of the Kashmir claimed by India. It is also a major partner to the dispute due to its relations with Pakistan. The leverage of China and US with Pakistan can come handy, not to overlook the fact that US has a great interest in solving the dispute [9]. Also it looks like that the Gordian knot of fixing Indian border with both China and Pakistan may have to solved together as both hinge on Kashmir [11].

The Prime Minister is accused to be very unemotional on most of the occasions very unlike Vajpayee. But this very quality lets us move beyond stated positions and predictable public response to any provocation. All we can hope is that these efforts succeed and finally India can look beyond its neighbours.

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