April 17, 2005

APRES CRICKET:

New tone in India-Pakistan ties: The leaders of the two countries met Sunday in India to talk Kashmir, bus routes, and trade. (Scott Baldauf, 4/18/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

While both the Indians and the Pakistanis have been remarkably quiet about the content of discussions, those close to the Indian government say that India has begun to press Pakistan to accept the so-called Line of Control as a permanent division of Kashmir. Western diplomats here say this is a sensible solution. India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other (four, if you count the Pakistani incursion of 1999 at the Kashmiri town of Kargil), and neither side is willing to give up territory that was won at significant cost in lives and money.

In the meantime, India has proposed seven "confidence-building measures," including additional bus routes between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, increased cross-border trade, joint promotion of tourism, and cooperation on environmental issues such as forest management. Sunday the two sides agreed to increase transport links, boost business ties, and explore ways to reduce the military presence in Kashmir. [...]

Kashmiri separatist leaders welcome any move that makes life easier for the Kashmiri people. But, they add, bus services do not solve the problem.

"India and Pakistan alone cannot decide the fate of the Kashmiri people," says Yasin Malik, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, a separatist party. "The bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad is a creative CBM [confidence-building measure]. But it is unfortunate. Both India and Pakistan did not bother to take people of Kashmir into consultation in the process."

"If they had been part of the consultation process, this bus process, they would have celebrated," Mr. Malik adds. "It would have been the biggest celebration in Kashmir. Instead, they feel humiliated. If the Kashmiri people will not be a part of the process, then you are pushing Kashmiri youth toward the militants."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2005 6:49 PM
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