India, Pak were on verge of settling Kashmir dispute in 2007

February 22nd, 2009 - 1:42 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf

Washington, Feb 22 (ANI): After negotiating for three years, India and Pakistan were on the verge of reaching a settlement to resolve the decades-old conflict over Jammu and Kashmir, according to a leading US newspaper.

The negotiations, which began in 2004, produced the outlines of an accord that would have allowed a gradual demilitarization of Jammu and Kashmir, a flash point in relations between the two neighbours since 1947, The Washington Post reported.

The effort stalled in 2007, and the prospects for a settlement were further undermined by deadly terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November, the report said.

The peace initiative is described in an article by investigative journalist Steve Coll, who writes in New Yorker magazine that the two sides had “come to semicolons” in their negotiations when the effort lost steam.

The attempt ultimately failed, not because of substantive differences, Coll writes, but because declining political fortunes left Pakistans then-president, Pervez Musharraf, without the clout he needed to sell the agreement at home.

Although Musharraf fought for the deal as did Indian leader Manmohan Singh, Dr. Singh became so weakened politically that he couldnt sell himself, let alone a surprise peace deal with Pakistans longtime rival, Coll says.

Coll writes that the resolution of the Kashmir dispute was the cornerstone of a broad agreement that would have represented a paradigm shift in relations between India and Pakistan: a moving away from decades of hostility to acceptance and peaceful trade.

Under the plan, the Kashmir conflict would have been resolved through the creation of an autonomous region in which local residents could move freely and conduct trade on both sides of the territorial boundary.

Over time, the border would become irrelevant, and declining violence would allow a gradual withdrawal of tens of thousands of troops that now face one another across the regions mountain passes. (ANI)

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