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Peace sans preconditions

Pakistan must abandon its 'unrealistic hopes' in making Kashmir a precondition to bilateral cooperation with India.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 13:23 IST

Pakistan's military leadership should abandon its "unrealistic expectations" in making the Kashmir solution a precondition to bilateral cooperation with India and prevent its "hardliners" from undermining the ongoing peace process, says a think tank.

"It will take many more years of talks and the participation and support of elected governments in both states before the dialogue process can yield a Kashmir solution.

Indeed, the two nuclear-armed states should focus efforts on stabilising their cold peace," the Daily Times quoted the latest study by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG).

It has recommended that India reach an understanding on troops reduction on the Siachen Glacier, dubbed the world's highest battlefield, to prevent the Pakistani hardliners from subverting the peace process.

India would itself stand to gain from this, it says.

An "asymmetry" in the perceptions of India and Pakistan on how to further the peace process, the ICG says, has stymied the talks.

Indian policymakers want to move slowly, hoping that an improved bilateral environment will help create the conditions for negotiating the most contentious issues, including Kashmir.

In contrast, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has repeatedly made it clear that the composite dialogue's fate rests on movement towards resolving the Kashmir issue.

It has stressed that confidence-building measures (CBMs) on improved communication links and people-to-people contacts could help create the necessary environment but their impact largely depends on political will to implement them in both spirit and form.

"Kashmir-related CBMs such as the border crossings and trade would win India and Pakistan the goodwill of Kashmiris in the areas under their control but if these CBMs are subverted, the gain will be short lived," it has warned.

The international community could aid in overcoming mistrust by providing technical assistance for verification and compliance.

It notes that the ceasefire has held and the process survived thus far, even in the face of "grave provocations".

This should not lull the international community, in particular the US, into believing that a war is no longer possible.