India Offers Pakistan a Face-Saving Way Forward
Popham, Peter, The Independent (London, England)
IT WAS nicely timed. Two days of ritualistic denunciations and stony stares had given Kazakhstan's first shot at a regional security conference a doomed look. Then, on the final morning - after studiously avoiding even a handshake with Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf - the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
It was a modest proposal for a way to monitor infiltration across Kashmir's Line of Control. "Joint patrolling can be held by India and Pakistan," he told the final press conference. "We want to move from a path of confrontation to a path of co-operation. Once infiltration stops, terrorist camps are dismantled across the border and verification is done, we can consider other steps that will take us towards de-escalation."
This was the first positive idea India has floated for reducing tensions that have led the two nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war. Islamic radicals cross from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir into the Indian-controlled part of the state under cover of Pakistani army fire and with the help of Pakistani military intelligence. India has amassed 750,000 troops on the 1,800-mile- long border and has threatened war unless Pakistan ends the infiltrations.
Publicly, Pakistan denies giving practical support to the infiltrators, though privately it has recently conceded that such support exists. Under enormous pressure from the West, General Musharraf has claimed that "nothing is happening across the Line of Control". And this week, for the first time in the present crisis, India privately agreed that infiltration had recently dwindled.
But the challenge from the Indian point of view is to stop it permanently, and to reach common agreement that it has in fact stopped. Only then, India insists, can de-escalation begin and talks with Pakistan - on the future of Kashmir as well as other issues - recommence.
But who is to say the infiltration has truly ceased? This was …
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Publication information: Article title: India Offers Pakistan a Face-Saving Way Forward. Contributors: Popham, Peter - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 6, 2002. Page number: 14. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.