Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How to move out of the line of fire

JULY 15, 2001 was a remarkable day in the history of India-Pakistan relations. Pakistan's President Parvez Musharraf was on his maiden visit to India. He was to meet India's then Prime Minister A V Vajpayee the next day in Agra and issue a joint statement which would mark a thaw in relations between the two estranged neighbours.

Delhi was steeped in a discernible excitement and the 24-hour TV news channels went into overdrive speculating on what was going to result from this summit.

The two leaders met in Agra but the "Agra Declaration" was never signed. General Musharraf abruptly left India. A historic moment passed without being grasped.

What followed was an "eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation" between India and Pakistan on the border in 2002. Notwithstanding Gen Musharraf's overtures for "peace" with India on numerous occasions later on, not much progress was made and, after 911, his focus switched to the war on terror with his friend, United States President George W Bush.

Now that the clouds of war are on the wane and he has written a self-congratulatory autobiography, In the Line of Fire, after beating Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Gen Musharraf has once again turned his attention to resolving the issue of Kashmir, a territory claimed by both India and Pakistan.

In an interview earlier this month with New Delhi Television (NDTV), he gave a "four-point solution" to solving the Kashmir dispute, which includes a phased withdrawal of troops and self-governance for locals.

The news made international headlines.Truth be told, there is hardly anything new in his purported "four-point solution".

Published in Today, Dec 18

Read the full text here.

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