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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 15:16 GMT
Indian press sees Kashmir hope
Indian newspapers
Indian papers have largely welcomed the Kashmir government

Indian newspapers have welcomed the formation of a new government in Indian-administered Kashmir following recent state elections.

But they have doubts about the coalition partners' plans to resolve the long-running insurgency in the territory.

The announcement of a new coalition after two weeks of political impasse was the "best news" to come out of the disputed state during the last few days, The Times of India said.

It praised the "maturity" shown by the Congress party for roping in the regional Peoples' Democratic Party and even offering it the chief minister's post.

"Goli se nahin, boli se [not by bullets, but by talks]," an article in the paper said.

'Best bet'

Many other newspapers also welcomed the action plan unveiled by the coalition after days of political wrangling.

The Hindu newspaper said despite ideological differences between the PDP and Congress, the two main parties had certain common objectives.

Congress party President Sonia Gandhi
Mrs Gandhi decided to break the stalemate
This "may well make the alliance the nation's best bet to find a solution to the vexed Kashmir problem".

A security analyst writing in the same newspaper said the coalition had "a real chance" to channel the peoples' votes into building a new Kashmir, which would have peace and prosperity.

The Asian Age newspaper warned time was running out.

"[It] could turn out to be the proverbial last chance for the democratic process to rescue Jammu and Kashmir from militancy and corruption," its editorial said.

The Pioneer newspaper, meanwhile, called the coalition's plans, or common minimum programme (CMP), "well-meaning documents".

"Sincere implementation of the CMP may change the face of the strife-torn state," it said.

'Distrust'

The plan outlines measures to help end violence in Indian-administered Kashmir.

They include a proposal to urge Delhi to hold unconditional talks with all Kashmiris in an attempt to bring back peace in the region, and to investigate allegations of human rights violations.

But The Hindustan Times says the proposals do not address what it calls "regional distrust".

It speaks of Kashmiri Hindus, who it says, have been forced to live in camps for over a decade.

Many Kashmiri Hindus left the state altogether because of violence by militants opposed to Indian rule.

'Grim legacy'

Some analysts say the socio-economic situation of the region has to be urgently addressed by the new government.

The Asian Age agrees. But it warns: "A grim legacy of misrule and militancy which the new coalition inherits will obviously defy instant solutions."

There are issues which divide the coalition but that should not derail genuine initiatives to develop the region, some analysts say.

India says more than 35,000 people have died in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir during the last 12 years.

More than a dozen groups are fighting Indian rule in the region.

India accuses Pakistan of training, arming and funding the militants.

But Pakistan denies providing military help and says it only gives moral and diplomatic support to the militants.

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