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"Kashmir settlement can close battlefront of international jihadists?

India and Pakistan may be close to resolving Kashmir issue and its settlement could offer an international model in resolving conflicts , demonstrating the power of negotiations over violence, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2007 01:14 IST
Arun Joshi

India and Pakistanmay be close to resolvingKashmir issue andits settlement could offer an international model in resolving conflicts , demonstrating the power of negotiations over violence.

A conservative American think tank, “The Heritage Foundation” in its latest report issued on Friday ( January 12, 2007), titled “ India and Pakistan Poised to Make Progress on Kashmir,” has underscored the progress the two South Asian nuclear-powered neighbhours have made on the issue during the past three years.

The report views this prospect in the light of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan that begins on Saturday. It notes that the dialogue holds the promise of the settlement because the dialogue has “weathered the impact of last July’s Mumbai bomb blasts.”

“There are signs that the two sides may be pre¬paring to try to tackle their most contentious issue: Kashmir,” the report written by Lisa Curtis, Foundation’s senior research fellow on South Asia, noted.

She has gone on to suggest:” Settling the Kashmir issue would also close a battlefront for international jihadists and demonstrate the possibilities for resolving conflicts involving Muslim political rights through negotiation and compromise rather than through violence.”

This report has traced the historical reasons of the Kashmir conflict between the two countries- their contrasting view points , the efforts that have been made in the past, especially in 1960s to resolve the issue, “ armed rebellion because of the Indian misrule” and how Pakistan “ quickly stepped in to support militancy” in late 1980s .

But, on the latest developments, it has clearly stated that the threat of terrorism still looms and the peace process was vulnerable to any terrorist strike. It has placed onus on Pakistan.

“If Pakistan takes visible action now to restrict the operations of known terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the chances of the India–Paki¬stan peace process surviving a future terrorist strike increase considerably. On the other hand, if Islam¬abad fails to crack down on terrorist groups oper¬ating on its soil, another major terrorist incident could deal a fatal blow to the peace process”

It has also noted difficulties in implementing the concept of demilitarization. It says that troop’s withdrawal would be difficult to implement “until Islamabad makes a firm commitment to end support for all militant violence in Jammu and Kashmir”. Taking into account the Indian concerns, the report says though “Indian officials acknowledge that infiltra¬tion of militants across the LOC has declined con¬siderably over the past couple of years, but they also note that the infrastructure supporting terror¬ism still exists in Pakistan.”

Referring to the November 26, 2003 ceasefire on borders, Lisa Curtis has observed that despite ceasefire on borders, the “continuing militant violence on the Indian side of LoC makes it unrealistic for India to consider a large-scale troop pullout from the Kashmir Valley.”

But, she has suggested that,”One way to begin a demilitarization process is for Pakistan to support a genuine cease-fire inside Indian Kashmir.”

“A permanent militant cease-fire inside Kashmir now would bolster the broader peace pro¬cess and begin to build the foundation for demili¬tarizing the region.”

The report urges US to encourage “quietly” the peace process.” Now that the Indian and Paki¬stani leaders have demonstrated their vision and commitment to bringing peace to South Asia, Washington should use its close relations with New Delhi and Islamabad to encourage continued for¬ward movement,” the writer concluded, and observed:”To take advantage of this historic opportunity, all sides must work diligently to ham¬mer out the details of an agreement and be willing to take political risks for meaningful progress toward peace.” End it

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First Published: Jan 13, 2007 01:14 IST