India favours out-of-the-box thinking to resolve pending issues with Pakistan. That is what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to convey in his comments on General Pervez Musharraf’s recently floated four-point formula on Jammu and Kashmir.
Official sources in New Delhi explained at least two elements in the Pakistan President's four-points were culled out of the original Indian peace recipe — no change of boundaries dovetailed with making the Line of Control (LoC) irrelevant to reduce the human cost of conflict.
But this does not mean that New Delhi is gung-ho about other facets of the formula Musharraf enunciated in a recent interview to NDTV. There is no common ground between the two countries on his call for staggered demilitarisation, autonomy or self-governance and joint supervision of Kashmir.
In fact, in the beginning of 2006, then Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran had discounted any joint sovereignty, control, management or supervision of Kashmir. What he had proposed was the possibility of cross-LOC "consultative" mechanisms on issues such as environment, water management and tourism promotion.
Some of these issues are dealt with under the Indo-Pakistan Joint Commission and co-operation between the two sides of Kashmir could be on identical lines, Saran reportedly told his Pakistani counterpart.
The Indian premier spoke on similar lines later in his speech while inaugurating the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service in March. In his Amritsar speech, Singh envisaged a situation where two parts of Jammu and Kashmir could, with active encouragement of India and Pakistan, worked out cooperative, consultative mechanisms to maximise the “gains of cooperation” in solving the region’s socio-economic problems.
“I don’t think what the Prime Minister said while returning from Japan means more than what we have already told the Pakistanis,” a top official told the Hindustan Times.
He said on the question of self-governance, New Delhi had repeatedly draw Islamabad’s attention to the “asymmetry” between PoK and the even more tightly-controlled Northern Areas under Pakistan and the Kashmir on the Indian side, where self-governance has been delivered through elections.
In talks on demilitarisation, India has been more than frank while arguing that the presence of troops was directly linked to cross-border terrorism and the concomitant violence.
The thinning down of forces in the Valley and elsewhere would have to be a “sovereign” Indian decision based on its assessment of the security situation in the state.
Email Vinod Sharma: vinodsharma @hindustantimes.com