India concedes another inch

Pakistan will now want the remaining 63359 all the more.

To be fair, India had already offered this in December 2004; it was Pakistan that had continued to insist that travel between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir take place without passports, visas or such formal travel documents. In the last round of talks, it was unwilling to accept some kind of a special travel permit that India had proposed. It has now come around to accepting an ‘entry permit’ system which means that the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service can now take off.

India conceded has conceded yet another inch. The hopes of the lofty-softy crowd, in yet another moment of misguided magnanimity, has prevailed over bitter experience.

The best thing that can be said in favour of the deal is that it helps India rebuild its bridges with its disaffected Kashmiris. Allowing normal people from either side of Kashmir visit and interact with each other is a good idea, not least because Azad Kashmiris can take a first hand look at how their counterparts are doing, without the propaganda. Another positive, for all its worth, is that it will become difficult for Musharraf and his clique to continue harping on the niggardly pace of the peace process. And yes, Indian lofty-softies will get that thing they talk about all the time — moral high ground.

If there has been even a tiny bit of pragmatism guiding this move, India has truly convinced itself that cross-border infiltration has reduced substantially. But while Musharraf can open the taps again with minimal cost, India cannot take back what it has conceded today without paying a huge political cost — internationally, and in Kashmir. That will make it even more important for Natwar Singh to bring back stronger guarantees, dubious as they may be, that Musharraf will completely dismantle the jihadi infrastructure in Pakistan.

The worst aspect of this deal is that it sets a precedent — that the only way the peace-process can retain its momentum is when India makes concessions. That last is not a good sign at all.

7 thoughts on “India concedes another inch”

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  2. I agree. About the positive aspects: are you sure if it is the Kashmiris who will be coming. I suspect that most of them will be the Pakjabis and jihadis who will never become pro-India. I am also hear that one can hear more bitching on international media (asking for more concessions)

    L.

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