Attempt At Talks Will Be Futile: Experts

New Delhi, May 21: | Updated: May 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
Given the stakes involved in Kashmir, India is more likely to abandon its efforts to improve ties with the United States than alter its policy on Kashmir to please Washington. Economic incentives might help stabilise the dispute; they will not obtain permanent substantive concessions.

According to a report from East West Centre, Hawaii-based think tank, urging the two sides to talk, is the worst of all possible responses. Unless the major powers can convince Pakistan to stop supporting the insurgency and India to accept some international role in stabilising the dispute, another round of talks would simply cause one or both, to attempt to coerce the other into making concessions.

There are few, if any, pure victims in the Kashmir conflict. Neither India nor Pakistan have a clear case in their favour, and Kashmiris have dealt poorly with their own minorities. There are no good solutions to the conflict, and maybe no just ones.

The report said the political leaders of both the countries have held together countries that are, by any criteria, difficult to govern. If they believe that giving up on Kashmir would destabilise their societies, this should be taken seriously. Outside powers, who will not bear the consequences of a mistake, ought to approach the situation with humility.

The two most practical solutions for the Indo-Pak problem ratifying the status quo or allowing Kashmir to secede from India - are each unacceptable to one of the parties. In policy recommendations the report offered a proposal to turn Kashmir into a joint protectorate of India and Pakistan, for example, is a complete nonstarter for India, which currently possesses most of Kashmir, while proposals to establish a grand confederation between India and Pakistan would be equally unacceptable to most Pakistanis, who would view it as effectively undoing the partition.

Any diplomatic intervention will therefore have to be limited to defining a framework for stabilising the situation in a way both countries can accept as consistent with their long-term goals.

A starting point would be to call on India to accept that Kashmir is an issue of international concern and that the insurgency in Kashmir has some domestic causes, while insisting that Pakistan accept responsibility for fueling the insurgency and destablising the situation.