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    Folder: The Outcome of the Agra Summit

    Hmm. I'm not sure how this idea of folders work. But I'm going to give it a try nevertheless. I've just started with my little summary of what I think are the most interesting bits and pieces of some of the articles I've been through. I'll add more when I come across them. I understand that much of this is going to be standard cut & paste anyway. Piece of cake.

    Well. The outcome of the summit was certainly not what we would term a heart-stopping surprise. Neither did the subcontinental newspapers. In fact, they pretty much downplayed expectations for the summit between the two leaders prior to their Saturday meeting. We'll start with India. The Telegraph of Calcutta said, "[O]nly somebody completely innocent about the cynical and arcane world of realpolitik will hope that all the issues will be resolved and many years of hostility will evaporate after just one meeting. Past history should dictate that caution prevails over any kind of euphoria."

    We are all well aware of the Kargil episode. Several papers referred to it, recalling when shortly after Vajpayee's last meeting with a certain Pakistani president, the then-Gen. Musharraf dashed hopes of peaceful resolution when he incurred what we all know as the Kargil incident. Which was why after the military coup in October 1999, India refused to cooperate with the new regime. But the Khaleej Times of Dubai notes that, "During the two-year freeze in bilateral contacts, there has been a perceptible recognition in both capitals of the changes that have taken place in South Asia."

    And the Pakistani delegation repeatedly urged that the Kashmir problem should be the summit's "core issue". While India wanted to discuss other issues such as trade to establish trust and confidence before tackling the Kashmir dispute. Which was why the Kashmir Times was encouraged that on his first day in India, Musharraf committed himself to the peace process and stated, "There cannot be a military solution to the [Kashmir] problem." The editorial stated, "These suggest that Pakistan is willing to see the summit as the first step in the right direction. … We should look at this summit … not as something that is 'result-oriented' but only 'process-oriented.' "

    Several papers analysed the leaders' motivations. Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said here: "Pakistan's economy is in a mess, and foreign investors have taken flight. After Kargil, it is clear that any attempt to find a military solution in Kashmir can only invite world condemnation. Yet a medieval minority at home keeps issuing calls for a holy war against India." The Times of London added: "Pakistan can no longer afford the present armed confrontation. Its defence budget is already so high that there is little money left to service its high debts, invest in the crumbling infrastructure, revive trade or to try to alleviate growing poverty." An op-ed in Pakistan's Dawn tried to downplay the notion that relations with India are central to Pakistani diplomacy, listing a series of even scarier disagreements:[list=a]
    "In foreign affairs, apart from the dispute with India, Pakistan remains on a divergent course:
    [*] with the military and economic powers of the Judeo-Christian tradition over its nuclear weapon programme, support to the Taliban and issues concerning "jihadi" militants;
    [*] with the major Asian powers (Russia and China and Japan); and with Iran over support to the Taliban and the Sunni "jihadi" militants;
    [*] with all of these over the reluctance or inability of Pakistan governments to curb the training and export of Islamic militants by seminaries and jihadists groups;
    [*] with several countries in the matter of controlling the narcotics trade."
    [/list=a]

    And Vajpayee's incentive in all this? The Kashmir Times says, "To India, Kashmir may not be the 'core issue,' but it is certainly a very 'sore issue,' whose solution we desperately seek." The Times seems to agree, noting, "For India Kashmir is not the yardstick of all politics. But it is an irritant, an embarrassment and a constraint on India's determination to speed up investment and tackle its vast infrastructure demands." To which the South China Morning Post piled upon yet more agreement:
    • "India has a million-strong standing army, and enough economic muscle to be able to withstand the insurgency in Kashmir. But after the opening up of India's economy, and especially after the May 1998 underground nuclear tests ordered by Mr Vajpayee … it became apparent that India won't be taken seriously as an emerging and responsible world power as long as it is engaged in a backstreet brawl with Pakistan."


    PS: You will need to register with the online South China Morning Post to access the above article. Registration is free.

    ------------------
    Stand upright, speak thy thought, declare,
    The truth thou hast that all may share,
    Be bold, proclaim it everywhere,
    They only live who dare.


    [This message has been edited by Renaissance (edited July 18, 2001).]

    #2
    The Telegraph of Calcutta

    EDITORIAL: LINE OF TALK

    To talk, in diplomacy as in life, is an act of friendship. The very fact that the prime minister of India, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the president of Pakistan, Mr Pervez Musharraf, will sit face to face to discuss problems that affect the relationship between the two countries should by itself give rise to optimism. However, only somebody completely innocent about the cynical and arcane world of realpolitik will hope that all the issues will be resolved and many years of hostility will evaporate after just one meeting. Past history should dictate that caution prevails over any kind of euphoria. All participants and observers will inevitably recall that Mr Vajpayee’s bus trip to Lahore, marked as it was by jubilation, was followed by the Kargil confrontation. It will be further remembered that despite India’s protests and international condemnation, the shadow of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan has not retreated from Jammu and Kashmir. On a longer perspective, it is impossible for either country to forget that Pakistan was carved out of India on the negotiating table. The existence of Pakistan sits uneasily on the history of India and the presence of India looms large on the existence of Pakistan. The past of India denies the present of Pakistan and the present of Pakistan denies the past of India.

    Both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Musharraf will be aware of these vexed issues and more. They will be conscious of the enormous stakes involved in what they say to each other and in the way the negotiating team of one country interacts with its counterpart. Leaving Saturday’s fanfare of protocol and goodwill gestures behind, hard talk will begin in Agra. There appears to be a tendency on the part of Mr Musharraf to push the Agra summit towards discussing only the Kashmir problem. India, on the other hand, recognizes that it has a problem with Pakistan over Kashmir but that cannot be the only — and not even the principal — subject of discussion. This was at the heart of Mr Vajpayee’s letter of invitation to the Pakistani leader. These two contradictory expectations threaten to vitiate the atmosphere in Agra even before the dialogue has begun. Or what is worse, the meeting of the two leaders might be reduced to a dialogue of the deaf in which Mr Vajpayee and Mr Musharraf say their mutually irreconcilable lines.

    Posturing can be the product of confidence as well as of insecurity. Mr Musharraf cannot be una- ware of the fragility of Pakistan’s economic situation and of his own political vulnerability. Mr Vajpayee is better placed and has the support of all political parties in his efforts to secure a lasting peace with Pakistan. Mr Musharraf’s apparent refusal to see beyond Kashmir can be read as a show of arrogance that is based more on sentiment than on realism. He would, however, be seriously in error if he mistakes Mr Vajpayee’s gestures of goodwill as products of weakness. Goodwill is not always prompted by a weak will. A stable relationship with Pakistan which is based on mutual trust will not only transform the political climate of south Asia but might well be Mr Vajpayee’s most enduring contribution as prime minister. The most significant aspect of India-Pakistan relations may well be left out in the Agra summit. The people of both countries, when they are allowed to be free of collective jingoism, want peace and stability. This may be lost in the war of negotiations.

    [This message has been edited by Renaissance (edited July 18, 2001).]

    Comment


      #3
      The Khaleej Times of Dubai

      EDITORIAL: OPPORTUNITY FOR A FRESH START

      AS THE leaders of India and Pakistan prepare to hold talks amid heightened expectations on both sides of the border, their governments have been making conspicuous efforts to inject a sense of realism. The attempt over the last few days to highlight the symbolism of the summit in Agra between Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee does not narrow the space for substance. Rather, it is an unreserved effort to emphasise that there are no easy solutions to their problems, a fact that has been made plain by the disagreement over the status the Kashmir issue should assume on the summit agenda. At the same time, there have been palpable efforts from each side to build an atmosphere conducive to meaningful talks. During the two-year freeze in bilateral contacts, there has been a perceptible recognition in both capitals of the changes that have taken place in South Asia. The realisation that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan has significantly raised the stakes in the regional security situation has been matched by an acknowledgement that deploying huge conventional forces cannot be deemed sustainable over the long run. Pre-summit indications of an evolving consensus on both sides over the futility of the continued militarisation of the Siachen glacier conform to this shift in thinking.

      Considering that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation had to postpone its summit indefinitely in late 1999 because of the difficulty in getting Vajpayee and Musharraf share the platform, New Delhi and Islamabad have indeed come a long way. To be sure, even the most spirited optimist would not expect the two leaders to come out with instant solutions in Agra. Their boldness in reaching out to each other has to be viewed against the vicissitudes in India-Pakistan relations and the constraints rooted in domestic political realities. A candid appraisal of this wider picture, however, must not preclude the two leaders from coming out with an invigorating approach to dealing with bilateral problems. The challenge for Musharraf and Vajpayee is not only to begin seeking a peaceful resolution to these problems but, more importantly, to ensure that the process of dialogue continues. Both leaders can make their task easier by encouraging greater contacts among politicians, businessmen, artistes, musicians, scientists, journalists and technocrats, among other influential sections of society. If Musharraf and Vajpayee could formalise in Agra a clear framework for continuing the dialogue process, they would be taking a significant step towards the new beginning people in both countries are fervently looking forward to.

      Comment


        #4
        The Kashmir Times

        EDITORIAL: HOPE AMIDST DESPAIR

        Seldom have we looked forward to any meeting with so much of expectation. Seldom, as the day came nearer, did darker clouds of despair cast their shadow on the prospects of its success. The beginning was certainly hopeful--both the tone of Vajpayee’s letter of invitation and the promptness with which Gen. Musharraf accepted it. While Vajpayee showed his willingness to discuss Kashmir along with many other issues "to traverse the high road to peace", Musharraf too responded by asserting that he would be coming to India "with an open mind". Then, the rebuke he administered to the rabid fundamentalists at home and the series of measures against the Jehadis that he initiated confirmed his bonafide in our eyes as a sincere man of peace. Then, suddenly the hawks on both the sides of the border became noisy. While we went out of our way to declare repeatedly that the status and territory of J&K are not negotiable and that Kashmir is only one among so many issues, like trade, narcotics, Sir Greek etc, to be discussed. Islamabad too began emphasising the centrality of Kashmir in all Indo-Pak discussions. This verbal controversy was worse confounded by the letters that the APHC leaders wrote to Vajpayee and to Musharraf seeking a meeting with each of them. We suddenly became hyper-sensitive to their presence at the tea to be hosted by the Pak High Commission. Islamabad, of course, has its own compulsions and decided to go ahead with the invitation as well as with a closed-door meeting with them. While Pakistan still swears by her commitment to support the anti-Indian elements in Kashmir, morally, politically and diplomatically, our home minister was quick to point out that a plebiscite should be held in Sindh also to find out what the majority there want now. Thus the ding-dong battle went on through the media almost till the hour Gen. Musharraf took off from Islamabad airport. So, when both the guest and our prime minister appeared a little tense after their first meeting in the morning, many concluded that all was lost.

        By then, of course, a few signs of hope had started emerging. The Pak High Commission came out with a statement that President Musharraf had been mis-quoted, and that he had never stated that the Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration are irrelevant. Both the visiting president and their High Commission later said that, although they believed in the centrality of the Kashmir problem and that the LoC can never be an acceptable border, they were prepared to discuss other questions, also. Already in their first short meetings they have discussed the issue of Indian POWs and criminals, like Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan. In fact, many who accompanied the select group to Raj Ghat saw a sigh of hope when the distinguished visitor wrote there in the message book, "Never have the requirement of these ideals more severely felt than today, especially in the context of India-Pakistan relations". True, the APHC leaders attended the tea-party as on all such earlier occasions, but discerning eyes did not fail to note that this time not they alone--as earlier--but even the sole CPM leader of J&K, Yusuf Tarigami, was present there. Although many dignitaries, especially of the NDA, boycotted the tea-party, because the APHC leaders were present, many others were inclined to treat it as a non-issue, as Jaswant Singh himself had first referred to it. By the time the guests were coming out of the dining hall in our Rashtrapati Bhavan the atmosphere was certainly more relaxed. President Musharraf, in his post-dinner speech, not only reiterated his commitment to Indo-Pak peace, but also encouraged every one present there by repeating that "there cannot be a military solution to the (Kashmir) problem". This came as a sweet note of peace from one who had been demonised for two years as the real architect of the Kargil conflict. He also said that past grievances and suspicions should not and cannot hold us hostages, when we go out together in quest of peace. To the media personnel present there he said that he was looking forward the meeting on the 15th with ‘lots of hope’, while his entourage has given hint that their president would invite our prime minister to return his visit to Pakistan, to carry forward the negotiations which cannot be concluded at Agra, and that there might be joint communique, which few expected or expect even now. These suggest that Pakistan is willing to see the summit as the first step in the right direction, and that is all that sane peace-loving people all over the world desire. Hope, by now, both President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee, assisted by their chosen few officials and colleagues, have reached some agreement to meet again, to continue the dialogue through official channels, and promote people-to-people contact to strengthen the process of peace. We should look at this summit, held virtually in the shadow of the world’s most majestic monument of love, not as something that is ‘result-oriented’ but only ‘process-oriented’. If our Air Chief Marshal had not saluted the visiting president, as a tit-for-tat for Gen. Musharraf not being present there to salute Vajpayee at Lahore then it was certainly in bad taste. Not being present was probably bad, which the Pak prime minister should have taken note of, but to be present and yet not to salute, solely because it is not mandatory, is certainly worse. It is good neither for the success of the summit, nor for our image as a civilised people.

        Comment


          #5
          The South Morning China Post of Hong Kong

          SCORESHEET OF HISTORY FAVOURS SUMMIT FAILURE

          With India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf meeting for the first time as leaders tomorrow, at a summit in Agra, site of the Taj Mahal, India's Ministry of External Affairs put out a mimeograph on the highlights of previous such Indo-Pakistan meetings.

          The scoresheet listed no less than 48 summits between the two hostile South Asian nations in the past 54 years. It's not as if they haven't met and talked often enough to sort out their problems.

          The first meeting in August 1947, just days after the subcontinent was partitioned by the British into two independent nations, was called to discuss the critical situation arising out of the wholesale massacre of Hindus and Muslims on both sides of the newly-created border. This was followed by another summit in November of the same year, after irregular Pakistani forces occupied parts of Jammu and Kashmir state.

          Since then, the two countries haven't stopped talking about Kashmir. But the trouble is, they haven't stopped fighting over it either.

          India and Pakistan have gone to war three times, while for more than a decade, New Delhi has been embroiled in a low-intensity conflict with Pakistan-backed armed insurgents in the Kashmir Valley. Thousands of civilians have died during this period, and the beautiful Himalayan region has been ravaged.

          India has a million-strong standing army, and enough economic muscle to be able to withstand the insurgency in Kashmir. But after the opening up of India's economy, and especially after the May 1998 underground nuclear tests ordered by Mr Vajpayee - which were followed by copycat explosions by Pakistan - it became apparent that India won't be taken seriously as an emerging and responsible world power as long as it is engaged in a backstreet brawl with Pakistan.

          So Mr Vajpayee launched his peace offensive. In February 1999, he and then Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration, affirming that the two governments "shall intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir" and work towards "confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at prevention of conflict".

          But even before the hurrahs had died down, this confidence went up in smoke. Pakistan tried to grab Indian-held territory in Kashmir. A bloody battle ensued in Kargil, and Mr Sharif lost his job. After General Musharraf seized power in Pakistan in October 1999, India turned intransigent, seeing the new boss in Islamabad as the real architect of the Kargil misadventure.

          It has taken Mr Vajpayee a long time to come to terms with General Musharraf, and invite him for dialogue. The past few years have been a learning process. Compared with Lahore, there will be an important difference in the way Mr Vajpayee scrutinises his rival in Agra. With memories of Kargil etched in his mind, he will be less sanguine now.

          In an odd sort of way, this became apparent in the days leading up to the summit, as New Delhi announced a series of unilateral measures, including the proposal to allow Kashmiris to cross the Line of Control for the first time since 1947 to meet relatives and friends on the other side. Mr Vajpayee's pre-summit peace fusillade was unprecedented. But its objective seemed clear - deny General Musharraf the opportunity of claiming a technical victory at Agra by trumpeting some minor gains on the peace front.

          Mr Vajpayee's message to General Musharraf seems to be that he knows his Pakistani counterpart is keen on dialogue with India in order to gain national and international legitimacy, but Agra will be a test of his potential as a budding statesman: if he really wants to improve relations with India, he will have to go beyond Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir.

          After seizing power, General Musharraf has gone through his own learning process. Pakistan's economy is in a mess, and foreign investors have taken flight. After Kargil, it is clear that any attempt to find a military solution in Kashmir can only invite world condemnation. Yet a medieval minority at home keeps issuing calls for a holy war against India. The United States, Islamabad's traditional patron, is decidedly impatient. Is General Musharraf strong enough to get Pakistan back on the tracks, so that the world can stop worrying about a nuclear holocaust in South Asia?

          Compared with Mr Sharif, General Musharraf has an obvious advantage while negotiating with India: he doesn't have to look over his shoulder and wonder what the military brass is thinking. In fact, General Musharraf has positioned himself as arguably the most powerful military ruler Pakistan has ever had.

          Moreover, after years of misrule by Mr Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's political leadership stands discredited, while business leaders are lobbying for peace with India to help restore investor confidence in the country.

          The mood in New Delhi was guardedly optimistic until Pakistan's foreign office issued a statement late last week accusing India of "rape and repression" in Kashmir. The timing of the statement was unfortunate. Along with this, General Musharraf insisted on meeting Kashmiri secessionist leaders in New Delhi, provoking an orchestrated outcry from leaders of Mr Vajpayee's ruling coalition.

          Maybe all General Musharraf hopes to achieve through such gestures is symbolically demonstrate that he will not compromise on Kashmir, thereby expanding the domestic political space available to him for negotiating with India. Maybe all Mr Vajpayee is trying to do with the unnecessary fuss over Mr Musharraf's meeting with Kashmiri secessionist leaders is to guard his right flank against Hindu nationalists opposed to conceding even an inch on Kashmir. Whatever their motives, what will ultimately count now is how the two leaders get along when they meet.

          Rifaat Hussain, Islamabad's pre-eminent strategic affairs expert, says this: "There's so much distrust and suspicion on both sides, that unless Vajpayee and Musharraf meet, nothing will be clear."

          The least the two leaders can do now is signal their commitment to improving relations by agreeing to meet again. For when it comes to the crunch, there is no better way of learning how to become good neighbours than by talking.

          [This message has been edited by Renaissance (edited July 18, 2001).]

          Comment


            #6
            The Times of London

            MARBLE AND CONCRETE

            India and Pakistan can gain from the Taj Mahal summit

            Since 1972 when India and Pakistan last went to war leaders of the two countries have held face to face talks on the subcontinent only five times. The last time was two years ago, when Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Indian Prime Minister, took a bus to Lahore to revive cross-border links and steady nerves after the two countries’ nuclear tests. Three months later hundreds of heavily armed forces, supplied and trained by Pakistan, poured into the icy heights at Kargil in Indian-controlled Kashmir, all but triggering another full-scale war. Delhi felt betrayed. Pakistan was humiliated. And within months Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani Prime Minister, was overthrown by Pervez Musharraf, the general who organised the Kargil infiltration and who is now arriving today in the heavily protected city of Agra to pose with Mr Vajpayee in front of the world’s most famous monument to love.

            The Taj Mahal meeting has not come about because of a new trust between India and Pakistan. But a combination of circumstances has persuaded each leader to make another attempt at solving one of the world’s most intractable territorial disputes and to warm, where possible, the present glacial relations between the two countries. Pakistan can no longer afford the present armed confrontation. Its defence budget is already so high that there is little money left to service its high debts, invest in the crumbling infrastructure, revive trade or to try to alleviate growing poverty. Its new defence doctrine is one of “minimum credible deterrence” and it can no longer aim to match India’s forces.

            President Musharraf also needs a breathing space to push through the reforms by which he says his military Government will be judged. Many are costly, controversial — especially on women’s issues — and have aroused the ire of Islamic nationalists who care nothing for the World Bank, international standing or technological progress and see all issues through the prism of a Muslim jihad to regain Kashmir. Already these elements, exacerbated by the extremists in Afghan refugee camps in the north, have begun to “Talebanise” the Army; Mr Musharraf can neither defeat them nor accede to their demands and must therefore show progress on Kashmir by other means.

            For India Kashmir is not the yardstick of all politics. But it is an irritant, an embarrassment and a constraint on India’s determination to speed up investment and tackle its vast infrastructure demands. Mr Vajpayee wants better overall relations with Pakistan, including trade, nuclear security, anti-terrorism and tourist links. This is vital in improving India’s relations with both America and China. And although the meeting will be dominated by Kashmir, he is determined that it will not focus solely on the row generated within India by the insistence of Kashmiri separatist groups in the All Party Hurriyat Conference to be represented at Agra.

            Because of the history of suspicion, the interests of extremists on both sides in keeping the dispute going and the predictable pre-summit hardening of positions, few people expect a breakthrough this weekend. Previous attempts have foundered simply in the setting of the agenda. But it ought to be possible to devise a formula for talks without compromising either side. With enough goodwill, other gains might follow, maybe a nuclear understanding, troop disengagement in the Siachen Glacier, water-sharing agreements, frontier delineation and controls on terrorism and drugs. That would grace the Taj’s beauty with real achievement.

            Comment


              #7
              The Dawn of Karachi

              EDITORIAL: LOOKING AT THE AGRA PROSPECTS

              In the run-up to the Musharraf-Vajpayee summit political comments in Pakistan have been marked by both excessive optimism and abundant caution in regard to the Kashmir dispute. Among the optimists, three schools of reasoning have emerged.

              The chauvinist view is that India's offer has been motivated by weakness, originating from its government's and army's failure to militarily quell the decade-old freedom movement. The globalist view takes note of India's Security Council and big power ambitions that are perceived to require an early end to the Kashmir problem. It takes further note of international pressure for the two countries to agree on conflict-resolution measures.

              There is also the economic view, which assumes that the compulsions of development have overtaken those of diplomacy and also that Pakistan's economy will benefit greatly from trade with India.

              Those advising caution believe that without movement on Kashmir, which remains "the core issue", there is little meaning for Pakistan to have talks with India or for progress in wider areas of bilateral relations. This is the egocentric view, based on the premise that all interested parties, including India, share some of Pakistan's viewpoint in the matter and also its larger world vision.

              This egocentric view forms the preponderance of influential opinion in Pakistan, as evidenced in the recent briefing for Gen Musharraf by several retried chiefs of army staff, former foreign ministers and secretaries and leading intellectuals. They have reiterated the popular one-point agenda that only if the "core issue" is tackled will there be a positive momentum for the resolution of many other bilateral problems.

              When Gen Musharraf assumed charge in October 1999, another high-powered body of economists and establishment luminaries convinced him that a one-point agenda of tackling bank loan defaults would initiate a sequence of events that would not only solve many governance problems but would also step up economic revival.

              The impracticability of this advice was soon exposed. At state level, even singular problems are multi-dimensional. The best way to solve such problems remains the tested method of breaking them into component parts and tackling each aspect separately.

              Similarly, in the present situation, while there is no denying a linkage between Pakistan's foreign policy and its economic problems or of the need to lower tensions with India, it will be counter-productive to persist in a one-point agenda as the source of this linkage. This becomes necessary because the geopolitical picture has changed and so has Pakistan's position in the regional context. Its diplomatic and financial exigencies are multi-dimensional and multi-directional.

              Although Kashmir remains the core issue with India, relations with India are no longer central to Pakistan's diplomacy. This becomes clear when the contentious diplomatic issues, the effects of reduced tensions with India on Pakistan's economy and the likelihood of international pressure for the settlement of the Kashmir problem are taken into account.

              In foreign affairs, apart from the dispute with India, Pakistan remains on a divergent course: (a) with the military and economic powers of the Judeo-Christian tradition over its nuclear weapon programme, support to the Taliban and issues concerning "jihadi" militants; (b) with the major Asian powers (Russia and China and Japan); and with Iran over support to the Taliban and the Sunni "jihadi" militants; (c) with all of these over the reluctance or inability of Pakistan governments to curb the training and export of Islamic militants by seminaries and jihadists groups; (d) with several countries in the matter of controlling the narcotics trade.

              A major concern among Pakistan's friends and allies remains their apprehension that internal political instability can create conditions whereby jihadist organizations can gain strength and take control of the state and incite rebethen in Muslim countries in the region by means of infiltration of jihadists. These hypothetical concerns, originating in bad governance and the rise of religious militancy in the country have assumed an aspect where strictly internal matters have become inter-linked with external concerns.

              In regard to the economy, three aspects need to be mentioned. First, there should be no expectations of any decrease in defence expenditures. Lowering of tensions with India, even a settlement on Kashmir, do not necessarily mean a lowering of defence preparedness. On the contrary, increased allocations will be required for both the nuclear weapons programme and the conventional forces simply for reasons of maintenance and basic technological advancements.

              Second, at the macro-economic level, the issue of defence expenditures is dwarfed by the major negative factor of debt servicing, the adverse balance of trade and dependence on capital inflows. These factors have multilateral origins and have no nexus with the bilateral Kashmir issue.

              The accumulation of Pakistan's huge external and internal debt is the result of years of corruption, mismanagement and faulty planning and development priorities, not just high defence expenditures. The debt servicing and capital inflow problems have become aggravated by the economic sanctions imposed by the US after the 1998 nuclear tests.

              Third is the motivation of trade with India. There is a belief that open bilateral trade will be of great benefit to Pakistan, which will gain access to a market of one billion people as opposed to one of 140 million for India. This is good in theory. In actual fact, Pakistani industry being inefficient, under capitalized and suffering from a chronic deficiency of professional management will not be able to take advantage of the new opportunities.

              The main beneficiaries will be either the trading interests of the existing powerful business groups or the multinational companies that already have a strong presence in both countries and can be expected to synergize their operations, perhaps by closing down their manufacturing operations in the smaller Pakistan market, as many have already done. It can also be argued that Pakistani consumers might benefit from lower prices and a wider product choice, but in the existing and projected forex reserves position, the economy cannot afford yet another adverse balance of trade relationship.

              There exists of course no realistic basis to expect international pressure or third-party mediation being applied in a manner favourable to Pakistan in respect of Kashmir. The position of the global majors is well known; none support the 1948 UN resolutions as a basis for a solution of the conflict, nor are they inclined to support Kashmiri aspirations so long as these remain linked to a religion -based nationalism. The OIC pays lip-service to the issue, but little more.

              The adjoining influential Asian powers - Russia and China - through the forum of the Shanghai 6, also lean towards the status quo. They view with disfavour the prospect of a Sinkiang-bordering Kashmir, seething with armed jihadists, becoming independent or part of a Pakistan, whose several recent governments have not been to control religious militancy within its existing borders.

              Comment


                #8
                The Economist of London

                AGGRAVATION IN AGRA

                Jul 17th 2001
                From The Economist Global Agenda

                An argument about the disputed province of Kashmir has marred the first summit meeting between India and Pakistan in two-and-a-half years. But the talks were not a complete waste of time

                THE talks were never going to be easy: India and Pakistan had not held a summit since early 1999, and had spent some of the time since embroiled in a nasty border skirmish. The pair have fought three wars in the 54 years since independence and have recently added nuclear arms to their military arsenals. Given the potential for a devastating conflagration between the two foes, many onlookers viewed it as a blessing that they so much as met and talked. But they did not do much more: late on July 16th, unable even to agree on a final communiqué, Atal Behari Vajpayee, prime minister of India, and General Pervez Musharraf, self-appointed president of Pakistan, broke off their summit in Agra, a northern Indian city.

                At first, everything seemed to be going better than could have been expected. The atmosphere was reported to be convivial. Pundits swooned with excitement when the two leaders agreed to sequester themselves in several hours of one-on-one talks, and to extend the summit for an extra day. But in the end, one critical issue divided them: Kashmir, a disputed territory largely controlled by India in apparent defiance of the wishes of its Muslim majority.

                Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir

                During the talks, Kashmir held all else hostage. Before the summit, India had floated the idea of opening extra border crossings between the two countries, and optimists had speculated about an agreement to build an oil pipeline from Iran to India, through Pakistan. Some sort of military understanding, to lessen the chances that a border shoot-out might escalate into nuclear war, was also on the wish-list. But in the end, Pakistan’s (quite reasonable) emphasis on Kashmir seemed to thwart these initiatives. It even blocked a pro forma statement at the end of the summit, if the Indian press is to be believed, when Indian delegates objected to a turn of phrase that cast Kashmir as a central issue, and insisted on a reference to “cross-border terrorism”, which was unacceptable to Pakistan.

                Yet Pakistan cannot afford to let the question of Kashmir lie. Anything that smacks too obviously of acceptance of the status quo would mark an effective victory for India, and a deep humiliation for Pakistan. Although India demands the return of chunks of Kashmir held by Pakistan and China, it in fact already possesses the most fertile and populous parts of the state, including the eponymous vale. Despite its rhetorical claim to the entire territory, India would surely be happy to accept the existing “line of control” (which divides its slice of Kashmir from the Pakistani one) as a formal border.

                Pakistan, on the other hand, balks at such a prospect. On the last occasion the two countries held a summit, in 1999, something close to setting Kashmir to one side in the interests of the wider relationship was tried; it proved so deeply unpopular within Pakistan’s powerful military (the chief of staff at the time was a certain General Musharraf) that just three months later, Pakistani soldiers backed a guerrilla incursion into Indian Kashmir, scotching the détente.

                Fear for the future

                The failure of the Agra summit raises fears that history might repeat itself. Over the past few days, some 90 people have died in Kashmir in clashes between separatist militants and Indian troops. Pakistan’s support for the militants ebbs and flows according to its wider relations with India. Smarting from the failure of the summit, and convinced that India is not ready to begin serious discussions on Kashmir, Pakistan may once again up the military ante.

                On the other hand, both sides seem genuine in their desire for progress, and the two leaders have agreed to meet again, in the autumn, in Pakistan. India knows that it cannot afford a complete breakdown in its relations with Pakistan. America, which pushed hard for a summit, has enthralled the former with the offer of close friendship. But America has also made it clear that India cannot take up the place it thinks it deserves as a regional superpower while it is still fighting a running battle with its neighbour. All sorts of goodies, from increased foreign investment to a seat on the UN Security Council, might come into prospect if the threat of war were removed. India has shown faints signs of moderation, both in its pre-summit sweeteners and in its recent offer to talk to representatives of Kashmiri groups it used to consider too militant to touch.

                Pakistan, too, really wants a deal—as long as it can be presented as something short of a sell-out. It, too, has shown some flexibility, moderating its once non-negotiable demand that Kashmiri militants be included in three-way talks. General Musharraf is under even greater American pressure than India is, thanks to the far more parlous state of Pakistan’s economy and, in particular, its dependence on financing from the IMF. At the back of his mind—as at that of every upper-crust Pakistani—is the fear that the brand of militant Islam their country is sponsoring in Kashmir might one day return to haunt them.

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