Historic it is, if you close your eyes to history

The proof of the pudding, as usual, is in the eating

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his meeting with General Musharraf as ‘historic‘, after it was announced that India and Pakistan would consider ‘all possible options‘ would be considered for solving the Kashmir dispute. The General walks away happy because of all possible options, and Dr Singh would be able to quibble about all possible options.

But as history has shown, ‘historic’ meetings with leaders of Pakistan are quite often historic from a purely relative point of view. Tashkent 1965 , Simla 1971, Lahore 1999 and Islamabad 2004 were all historic too, but unfortunately apart from dentrifice decorations for toothpaste advertisements, the meetings amount to little progress.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Musharraf toned down about Kashmir in his own self-interest, as the international community would quite likely frown on his sabre-rattling. How historic could the talks be when the terrorism and infiltration continues unabated? It is quite usual for Musharraf preach something in Washington and practise something totally different back home.

Update: Pakistan’s Daily Times must have report the joint statement in a moment of over-enthusiasm. The text of the statement just mentions ‘possible options‘.

8 thoughts on “Historic it is, if you close your eyes to history”

  1. Nitin,

    Yeah, same old, same old. But I should point out that the text, at least as read out by the Renaissance Man of Pakistan, only refers to considering “…possible options….[in a]…sincere, purposeful [way]…”. I wonder which version is correct. If the Renaissance Man didn’t stumble over the text, I suppose it’s more evidence of wishful thinking on the part of Pakistanis.

    Lending further credence to the ‘much smoke, no fire’ analysis is Jyoti Malhotra’s report (available at http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=55800)in the Indian Express that the “…highlight…” of the meeting was the Renaissance Man’s inability to answer a simple question from Dr. S. Quoting from Ms. Malhotra’s report:

    “You have spoken about a variety of possible options,” he is said to
    have told the General, to resolve the Kashmir issue apart from
    conversion of the LoC into the border. “What are these options?”
    And Musharraf, sources said, replied: “Main soch kar bataoonga.” (I
    will think and get back to you.)

    As usual, the Indian side gave ground, not insisting on any (clear) reference to ending terrorism. Even then, I think it’s mostly harmless.

    BTW, what do u think of the report in Time that India was prepared to ‘adjust’ the LoC ?


  2. The algorith is same

    (1) Historic Meeting
    (2) Unreasonable demand from Pakistan – Basically Give us Kashmir.
    (3) Indians laugh
    (4) Terrorism increases
    (5) Negotiations start
    (6) Elections in India, new Govt
    (7) GOTO (1)

  3. Let the dance and drama continue. A lot of bureucratic ink and perks are at stake, after all. The people (such as they are) in both countries can now only YaWn at these happenings. Like suicide bombings in Israel, these supposedly (pre?)’historic’ negotiations have long since ceased being interesting, barely newsworthy, in fact.

  4. Nitin,

    The PM apparently said in a press conference that “..all options..” would be considered. But weighing the pluses and minuses of every option surely amounts to conceding that J&K is not part of India. Or am I reading too much into it?


  5. Kumar,

    Given Pakistan aptitude to take a mile when given an inch, Manmohan Singh’s climb down is of concern. Let’s hope the atmospherics does not lead to soft-headed policy.

  6. Whether these negotiations result in the realization of a settlement between the two countries is not as paramount to the development of both countries at you may all think. Many countries have disputes over land i.e. China and Taiwon, Japan and Russia, China and India. The key here is not to solve the problem but to eliminate this infatuation with it. If all India and Pakistan do is chit chat about the Kashmir while developing other aspects of thier bilateral relations then the problem will eventually go away. I say keep talking if your not going anywhere talk some more.

  7. Jay,

    India’s economic growth is not hostage to Pakistan or its obsession with Kashmir. I have written quite a number of posts to prove that ‘lets negotiate with Pakistan else our economy will suffer’ logic is just a myth. As you point out, China-Taiwan, South-North Korea etc long existing flashpoints, but that’s not prevented them developing their economy.

    If India gets its economic policies right, and that involves coming out clearly in favour of economic freedom, encouraging investment and promoting transparency, 8-10% growth is achievable – with or without Pakistan.

    When it comes to security, there is no reason for India to succumb to Pakistan’s greed for territory. India can grow faster that Pakistan, and its economy can withstand the confrontation. Pakistan, on the other hand cannot. Pakistan can and must be forced to choose between its own economic development and its expansionist foreign policy in Kashmir.

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