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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Fresh hope for Kashmir?

India's decision to initiate talks with Pakistan has raised hopes of an eventual peace settlement in Kashmir.

Pakistan has been calling for direct talks for many months, and welcomed India's invitation.

But in Kashmir itself Indian forces have ended a unilateral ceasefire, which had been ignored by militant groups.

The dispute, in which 30.000 people have died, has been at the centre of troublesome relations between the two nuclear powers since their creation 54 years ago.

India accuses Pakistan of financing separatist Muslim rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan maintains it gives only moral support.

Could this be the beginning of meaningful peace talks?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

As long as we have the kind of political vacuum that is existing in both India and Pakistan right now, there is nothing that can be done for either country, forget about Kashmir. Both countries are being ruled by self-serving extremely corrupt people whose only reason to be in the position of power is to maintain the kingly lives that they and their proteges lead. They are not worried about the welfare of the common man or woman.
Sanjay, USA

Kashmir should weigh the benefits of staying with India rather than breaking away

Sam, USA
The talks between the two leaders is not going bring any twist to the situation. Kashmir should weigh the benefits of staying with India rather than breaking away. It is a country with absolutely no natural resources whatsoever and a country cannot completely depend on tourism for its survival. Also, it is extremely impossible for India give independence to Kashmir because it will effect its internal stability.
Sam, USA

I do not see any hope of resolving the Kashmir issue in the near future. Pakistan has been never reconciled to the fact that it lost its eastern part in 1971. It will make all-out efforts to 'compensate' for that loss by trying to annex Kashmir. However serious India's intentions may be, the talks are a waste of everyone's time.
Amit, USA

If India is a democracy then it should allow the Kashmiri people THEIR democratic right of self-determination.
Rahim Khan, Bradford, England

Kashmiris have an absolute right to self-determination

Nirmal Shah, USA
There will only be peace in South Asia when India stops trying to act the 'Big Brother' of the region. There can be no going back to pre-1947. Pakistan is a Muslim country and India is a Hindu country (with some Muslims and an insignificant Sikh population). Since Kashmir is an overwhelmingly Muslim-majority state it should be allowed to join Pakistan if it wants to. I am Indian but I nonetheless accept that Kashmiris have an absolute right to self-determination. Maybe this is the only chance there ever will be for peace in South Asia. It is a glimmer of hope that when the two leaders meet in Delhi there will be a just settlement of this lingering dispute.
Nirmal Shah, USA

Whether they join India or Pakistan, the gentle folk of Kashmir will have the same thing done to them, that was done to the Tibetans by the aggressive Chinese culture. The only just solution will be an independent Kashmir, whose neutrality is guaranteed by its neighbours. Nepal and Bhutan should be its examples to emulate.
Ray Balan, USA

The fact is, India was never ever one country. It appeared to be so only under the forces of British rule. Natural divisions of India are bound to occur. But, I am not saying that it is going to be good for the people, and also, I see a United States of India in the remote future.
Agha Ata, USA

Talks between India and Pakistan is good news. But it must not be based on either a Hindu or Muslim agenda. It must be based on democracy as well as a secular agenda. In today's world, religion should take a seat on a backburner.
Sal Bhattacharya, USA

India and Pakistan both have deluded themselves into believing that Kashmir belongs to them whereas it obviously belongs to the people who live there, the Kashmiris, who are butchered by the dozens everyday while the rest of the world looks the other way.
Irfan, Kashmir

I think Kashmir should remain with India

Rizwan, USA
I don't agree with separating Kashmir from India. If we observe closely, India has already suffered a lot of division - before 1947 it was one country, India; in 1947 and 1971 two more countries were born out of India (Pakistan, then Bangladesh). The British divided India on religious grounds (making religion a yardstick was a big mistake and didn't serve its purpose) because even after division India still stands to be the second biggest Muslim population country in the world (after Indonesia) - Pakistan doesn't even come close.

So I think Kashmir should remain with India provided that India displays tolerance towards minorities and doesn't let another Babri Mosque destruction incident happen. And if India displays so, then I think Pakistan and Bangladesh should merge with India. On the other hand, Pakistan needs to curb the militants and stop supporting them because just because of some militants the whole civilian population of Kashmir is suffering. I am a Muslim and love India (even though I was born in Pakistan). I wish to see a Greater India - just how it was under the Muslim Mughal emperors.
Rizwan, USA

The basis of this problem lies in the partition of India. The root cause is the two-nation theory put forward by Jinnah. The basis for partition was that Hindu and Muslims could not live together. Partition has not solved this problem but has given it a permanent constitution. India and Pakistan will never resolve their differences because estranged brothers can only hate. PS Kashmir was given to the Dogras for betraying the Sikhs in the Anglo-Sikh wars.
Sukhwinder Singh, UK

Rather than lamenting on unachieved desires and passions, I think both India and Pakistan should strive hard for the development of the part of Kashmir already in their own possession. Only if the money, time and manpower used for proliferating terrorism - and countering it - was spent on both sides of the line of control on building infrastructure and educating people, Kashmiris would have felt much more pleased with either government. Also Kashmiris should become more cunning and weigh the benefits they received from each nation and which they are likely to receive in the future rather than just aimlessly demanding freedom and whining all the time about not getting it. It's there for all to see that Kashmir cannot survive on its own, given its natural resources and its economy.
Chirag Doshi, India/USA

I think Kashmiris should be allowed the right of self-determination. If only the Colonials had done it right back in 1947, Pakistan and India could have been less hostile towards each other.
Saad Khan, Canada

The defence industry is going to laugh its way to the bank

Chin, Americas
It is going to be an exercise in futility like the ones before. It is going to legitimise Mr. Musharraf to be the next president and give some Brownie points to BJP to garner votes in the next election. Any solution other than status quo is going to be a disaster and we are in the process of making another Afghanistan or another Indo/Pakistani war with disastrous consequences for all. The defence industry is going to laugh its way to the bank.
Chin, Americas

The dawn of the new millennium has seen change of strategic allies in the region. It can now be said without doubt that US has chosen India as its new strategic partner in the region primarily to counter China and secondly to reap economic benefits from this fast developing country. The recent development of inviting Mr. Musharraf to India should be seen in this backdrop. For a country to progress, the first prerequisite is to have a peaceful environment. Funds can then be diverted to socio-economic progress. Kashmir being the primary bone of content between two key players of this region, has to be resolved. But what are the chances?

The two governments should realise that they have a real opportunity here to settle this issue. The most acceptable solution to this problem can be either in the form of the formation of an independent state as desired by most Kashmiris or the current line of control can be transformed to international borders. The two sides should work out on these lines. The sooner the better, especially for India.
M. Saqib Aftab, Kuwait

Rather than endlessly and blindly blaming India for the Kashmir imbroglio, it is high time Pakistan addresses the issue of cross-border terrorism and take responsibility for it. It is the Pakistani establishment who need to prove their sincerity to the Indian government which has lost faith in it due to the Kargil misadventure launched by Pakistan.
Rakesh Chandra, India

The solution is simple. Let the people of Kashmir decide their fate without any external interference from Pakistan or India. Once, this is accomplished Kashmir will not longer be milked as an excuse for the improvement of relations between Pakistan and India.
Sameer, USA

This move is just a trap to show the world that India wants peace

Serkan, Pakistan
One cannot hope for any positive steps from India with respect to Kashmir. This move is just a trap to show the world that India wants peace. On the other hand, Pakistan had been calling for dialogue for many years. Why was India reluctant to respond?
Serkan, Pakistan

Why don't understand the simple fact that India will never give up one inch of Kashmir for the sake of its internal stability. It has to be heavy handed to keep India united. However, India and Pakistan should allow the Kashmiris to form their own government except the defence (something like Scotland and Wales).
Ashraf Shaheen, UK

Let's not forget that India and Pakistan have been talking for the past 50 years. They have even had treaties. The real test will be if Kashmiris will be the principal party to the dispute. Without Kashmiri involvement there cannot be a solution! The best solution to the dispute is to allow Kashmir to become independent. That is what most Kashmiris want. Both India and Pakistan have been using Kashmiris to settle old scores from Partition. You must remember Kashmir for most of its history has been independent with a distinct cultural identity which is different from Pakistan and India. An independent Kashmir can become a buffer and bridge of friendship between the archrivals.
Sagir Ahmed, British Kashmiri

We are trying our best for peace

Vipin Tyagi, India
If Kashmiri brothers and sisters want to join Pakistan then they are most welcome to go to that part of border. But we are not going to give an inch to them. We are trying our best for peace. But what we get till now? After Lahore visit of Mr Prime Minster we get the Kargil Now God knows what India will get after this New Hope of Friendship.
Vipin Tyagi, India

Turning Kashmir into a UN-administered territory is what caused the whole problem in the first place when the UN set up a Line of Control running through Kashmir. They then abandoned the matter and left India (which was still trying to recover from the British rule) to deal with the problem. Handing the problem over to the UN is definitely not the answer.
P. Munnamalai, UAE

Religious wars historically have added to greater misery and bloodshed. This will and is leading to more hatred amongst communities in India and money which could have gone towards health and education is used up in defence and security. Pakistan has even greater problems. The increase in Jihadi movements led from Pakistan will only make them go the Taliban way and away from the path of progress. The only issue between India and Pakistan is whether they want to be the part of the developing world or grow up to be developed countries.
Dhirendra, India

If there is ever going to be peace in Kashmir, a suitable (neutral) arena for talks has to be found. I think that Kashmir should be turned into a UN-administered territory.
Peter Bolton, UK in USA

Kashmiris have to decide their own fate

Salar Khan, Kashmir/UK
Sold to a Sikh dynasty for 750,000 rupees by the British in late 19th century, the common Kashmiri has seen nothing but exploitation and humiliation at the hands of its oppressive rulers ever since - apart from the ones who have been lucky enough to enjoy freedom since 1947. Uprisings in 1931, 1947, 1965 and then in 1989 have so far fallen short of winning outright freedom for the people of Kashmir. Integration with India is not even an option for the majority of people. If it was, there would not be a Kashmir issue. It is therefore not surprising that India has no intention of exercising democracy in Kashmir, and can only hope in vain to crush the freedom movement by continuous violations of human rights. Accusing Pakistan for problems of its own making and declaring sham ceasefires is not going to solve the problem. Kashmiris have to decide their own fate.
Salar Khan, Kashmir/UK

The ground situation is that normal Kashmiris feel isolated with India. Also India will never give up Kashmir, so the only option is that India should take measures - economic, social and political - to bring Kashmiris in its favour and also crush the militancy severely. It's a long process but that's the only solution, as neither India nor Pakistan will give up its claims.
Vivek, India

The solution is simply to hold talks between India, Pakistan and true representatives of Kashmiri people without any pre-conditions

Sumera, Pakistan
No one can dare to deny the truth that about 90% of Kashmiris are Muslims. They speak Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, wear the national dress of Pakistan. All the Kashmiri rivers run into Pakistani territory. About 11 land routes open into Pakistan. Kashmiris have unbreakable religious, cultural and historical ties with Pakistan. It was, is and will remain a natural part of Pakistan. The issue is not as complex as Middle East conflict. The solution is simply to hold the talks between India, Pakistan and true representatives of Kashmiri people without any pre-conditions. Decide the date and necessary procedural details for a free and fair plebiscite in both Indian-administered and Pakistani-administered parts of Kashmir, to be held under the supervision of UN observers. The results must be faced boldly by both parties.

This is the best peaceful resolution as Security Council by itself is never going to implement its resolutions about the oldest conflict on its agenda. It is a sad fact that Security Council is just a puppet working to ensure the safety of the USA and its allies, especially Israel in Middle East and India in South Asia. The Kashmir conflict - colonial legacy - is now threatening a nuclear war in the most inhabited part of the world. So it needs urgent resolution through international co-operation.
Sumera, Pakistan

Why Kashmir should be separated from India? What is the need? Is it because Muslims dominate? If Pakistan is very eager to have Kashmir then 1) They have to accept all their Muslim brothers from rest of India along with Kashmir and 2) Equal amount of land (including POK) from Pakistan should be given to India in exchange. That is only the best solution.
Sanat, India

If there is ever going to be peace in Kashmir, a suitable(neutral) arena for talks has to be found. I think that Kashmir should be turned into a UN-administered territory.
Peter Bolton, UK in US

There are many solutions to the Kashmir problem, but definitely not separating it from India

Samrat, India
The problem is due to cultural imbalance. Even if India decides to give Kashmir to Pakistan, the problem will get aggravated. Pakistan will use the same formula to get more land from India ( by provoking Indian Muslims). Pakistan has in the long term to swallow whole India. After the solution for the Kashmir problem, we are going to face the same kind of threatening from Pakistan. Let us not give up Kashmir. There are many solutions to the Kashmir problem, but definitely not separating it from India.
Samrat, India

Very simple question and I need very simple answer: Why can't India let Kashmiri people decide their own fate? - India claims to be World's largest democracy.
Zahoor Khan, USA

The problem of Kashmir will be there for a very long time to come. But, in between, the politicians and generals of the two countries are benefiting. These two classes will never go to the battle-field and have a real fight. These guys are going to give the commands from their luxurious bedrooms with their TV remotes and mobile phones. The ultimate sufferers are those who earn their livelihood on a daily basis, and to whom independence and religion doesn't make much of the difference. Instead, I shall be very much glad if the people(common) are given the basic education, and shall also appreciate if steps are taken to create employment instead of creating nations. Otherwise, it will be too late for both the countries. Restrict the leaders of both the sides in promoting religious hatred.
Shakir Khan, Saudi Arabia

Kashmir is part of Pakistan because, at the time of partition, Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan but India occupied it by force. This dispute can be solved easily if India allows Kashmiris to decide whether they join Pakistan or India.
Saeed uz Zaman Alizai Mastung, Pakistan

The people of Kashmir should decide independently, without fear, who they wish to join

Rash, UK
I am amazed with the attitude of people when looking at this issue. It's not just about land. Pakistan and India do not have much to gain apart from self satisfaction that they have won. The people of Kashmir should decide independently, without fear, who they wish to join. It's about time the Pakistan and Indian governments and their people grew up. Both should do more for the land and people they already have, especially Pakistan. I am a Pakistani but feel let down by all governments that have come to power. Apart from filling their own pockets, nothing has been done for Pakistan and its people. This should be priority number 1.

It's a strange and astonishing fact that the problem with both Kashmir and Palestine is down to the British. The British created Pakistan and left Kashmir as a problem. They are also responsible for creating Israel and leaving Palestine as a problem. What's alarming is that the British Government does not seem to take any interest in solving the mess it has made with these two problems. Instead the USA is trying to be the Big Brother.
Rash, UK

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See also:

24 May 01 | South Asia
Pakistan welcomes India offer
23 May 01 | South Asia
India debates Kashmir truce
17 May 01 | South Asia
Violence flares in Kashmir

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