The Kashmir peace that was not to be
It is now emerging India and Pakistan came within semicolons of inking an agreement resolving the Kashmir dispute in 2007.
The proposed agreement came unstuck not because of ill-will on either side but because of the fall from power of General Pervez Musharraf.
Former Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri mentioned the near-agreement recently in a TV talk show on CNBC.
Kashmiri leaders had said as much, and more, earlier.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had told a Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid, Srinagar, on March 2, 2007, that “the demilitarisation of the two sides of Jammu and Kashmir would form part of an overall Indo-Pakistan package on Kashmir as the two countries have agreed on this and it is likely to be announced within the next six months.”
The All Party Hurriyat Conference chairman had made this claim soon after his visit to Pakistan where he interacted with then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and leaders of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
It was not to be. An article in the New Yorker says that in March 2007, as the two countries were discussing plans for a historic summit, Musharraf became embroiled in a public feud with his country’s Supreme Court.
This triggered off a series of events that led eventually to Musharraf’s ouster.
Internal developments in Pakistan had put obstacles in the dialogue process, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a speech in Akhnoor near Jammu on April 25, 2008.
The 26/11 Mumbai attacks have now placed further obstacles to the proposed peace plan.
The intention was to have a soft border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir that would allow people on both sides to move freely across. This would pave the way for eventual de-militarisation of the region, and greater autonomy without redrawing of borders.