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Analysis
Last Updated: 04/14/2005
Fire, Water, Earth: The Kashmir region
Semu Bhatt

The India-Pakistan conflict has seen much progress toward resolution in the last years, with bilateral cricket matches taking place and buses now passing to the Kashmir region. Yet tension in the form of arms shopping and multiple missile tests still persists. Through analyzing the three aspects of the conflict – fire, water, and earth – Semu Bhatt proposes some tentative solutions.


ARTICLE AVAILABLE IN PDF Click Here

 

Since January 2004, India and Pakistan have initiated a cautious peace process.  The year 2004 witnessed substantial improvement in the contact between the two societies, including unprecedented visits of media persons to Jammu & Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control. Also unusual was the experience of bilateral cricket matches where the spectators of both the countries cheered both the teams. There is already an agreement on a tentative schedule of official meetings until September 2005. However, it is important to note that despite the peace process, the arms race has increased at a hectic pace. In the last 15-16 months, India and Pakistan have conducted 20 missile tests. Pakistani military leadership has been shopping for arms all around the world including new sources such as Sweden. Moreover, there are indications that a meeting of Corps Commanders held on January 6, 2005 has authorised ISI to work out a strategy with extremist groups to launch a fresh series of attack, on a limited basis, in the Indian territory beginning in March 2005.

  

The two countries are committed to reaching a final settlement as per the Simla Agreement of 1972. At Simla, the final settlement was envisaged in the narrow context of the cartography of Jammu & Kashmir. The developments of the last 30 years compel the final settlement to be comprehensive if it really has to be final and enduring.

  

The crafting of the final settlement requires honest though bitter analysis of the psychology and ground realities of the two countries. The conflict between India and Pakistan currently extends to the entire South Asian region, from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. It also engages sections of population in far-flung parts of the two countries. It is reflected in the strife in India s north-east and Pakistan's Balochistan: India accuses Pakistan of using Bangladesh as a platform to destabilize India's eastern sector; Pakistan accuses India of using Afghanistan as a platform to subvert Pakistan s western half. Of this widespread conflict, the Jammu & Kashmir component is known internationally. The Jammu & Kashmir issue itself has several dimensions. To India, it is a test of secularism. To Pakistan, it is a source of strategically important rivers. To the people of Jammu & Kashmir, it is a matter of living in peace with dignity.

  

The search for a final settlement must therefore be predicated on the analysis of the three essential elements in the bilateral relationship fire, water and earth. The final settlement must also be a basis for restructuring relations between the two countries, since a settlement will not be final, unless it paves the way for a new and healthy relationship between the two countries in the place of current hostility.

 

ARTICLE AVAILABLE IN PDF Click Here

 

Ms. Semu Bhatt is the Special Assistant to President for the Strategic Foresight Group, www.strategicforesight.com.


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