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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Agra: What did it achieve?
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee have ended their historic two-day summit in the city of Agra.
Although the talks began on an optimistic note, the matter of Kashmir was never far from the headlines. During negotiations it is believed that at least 18 Islamic militants were killed in fighting in the Poonch district of Kashmir, near the border with Pakistan.
However, on a more positive note, there have been some agreements. Officials said that foreign ministers would meet twice a year and there is to be an annual summit of the two leaders.
Has the Agra Summit been a success? Does it offer a more hopeful future for the two countries?
Can the two governments break free from decades of mutual suspicion and mistrust? Will there ever be a compromise on Kashmir?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I think the Agra summit has not failed but it has been discontinued for the better future. At least in this way the importance and seriousness of the Kashmiri issue has emerged on the international scene.
The problem is that we are forced to agree on disagreement. The main issue between India and Pakistan is Kashmir and to talk about other issues in front of this crocodile matter is useless while on the other side we are killing each other!
Sanjiv Ahluwalia, UK
It is sad to observe that at a time when most of the world rivals are bridging their gaps for a better future, the two South-Asian nations have failed to do the same. I think that realism, flexibility, tolerance and far-sightedness is required to achieve positive results.
When the maps of India and Pakistan were drawn at the time of independence, Kashmir was clearly part of the Indian territory and Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Pakistan's subsequent efforts to annexe Kashmir was akin to one child trying to snatch away a book from another and in the process tearing off a few pages. Pakistan's current interest in Kashmir has nothing to do with its so called "Freedom Struggle". Pakistan simply wishes to take revenge against India for her role in the creation of Bangladesh. So the Pakistani obsession with Kashmir is nothing unnatural.
The onus is now on India to talk Pakistan out of this quest for revenge which has proved to be a significant population controller in the subcontinent.
Although the problems are too complex to be solved in a couple of days, it is good that a dialogue has been initiated. It appears to me that a solution to the problems confronting South Asia today is to follow what is being done in Europe. Except for religious differences, all the countries of the region have a lot in common and there is a lot of untapped goodwill towards each other throughout the subcontinent. Although of Indian origin, I am often pleasantly mistaken at various times to be a Pakistani, Bangladeshi or even a Sri Lankan.
One cannot deny that Kashmir is the central issue between India and Pakistan. One cannot also deny that India needs to accept the fact that a Muslim majority state under their rule will never be treated fairly. How many Hindu majority areas acceded to Pakistan? The mass of Kashmiri's who were virtually silent till 1988 have now started to scream. India would be very wise to nip this rising storm because it is going to get out of control and more violent. The British Raj left this snake pit for us. Sad that we haven't been clever enough to settle this issue.
The problem in Kashmir is ultimately driven by religious intolerance. Once people start seeing each other as individuals and equals then all these problems will be solved. No more ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus and no more demands of Islamic militant separatism. This is the core issue. It is what drove Muslims against Hindus during creation of Pakistan and this is just a continuation of that history in the subcontinent.
This summit can be considered as the joke of the century.
How can a person who overthrew the democratically elected
government, imposed military dictatorship, come to talk about the so called "self determination of the Kashmiri people" and caution India that there is no military solution to Kashmir.
Anyway it is foolish to expect this five decade issue to get
solved in a day or two.
Well! I see this talk is positive. The one important thing about this talk is that now the people in both countries realize that the main issue between the countries is Kashmir.
Another important note comes from this summit is that in both side the atmosphere of discussion is open. This helps the people from both countries to understand each other.
The media involvement has the positive impact on this summit.
Pakistan make one point very clear; it will support Kashmir no matter what the situation may be. It is up to India that for how long they are willing to keep their armed forces in occupied Kashmir and at what cost.
United Nations has failed to follow through on its resolutions. Other nations should take the lesson out it, "learn to defend yourself".
Although I never expected the two to come out with a solution to the Kashmir issue, there was a hope. But in the end politics always won the laurels. Mr Vajpayee wants to preserve his political future and the general has his own restrictions. So, until we get someone from both sides who has more regard for the people of Kashmir than their own political agenda, this issue is never going to be resolved - no matter how much time and money we put into this and how many summits we hold.
Prashant Arora, India
Please don't give up. I am sure in all these myriad problems there lies a solution.
The very fact that these two neighbouring countries could not ever agree to disagree, points clearly to the wide chasm that divides them. What more reason can one need to realise the necessity of third party mediation, to solve the Kashmir dispute. None of the countries disputes the other problems such as poverty and education, which plague them - it is the Kashmir issue which is in dispute, and the sooner a third party is involved, the sooner the real issues affecting everyday people can be tackled. To say that Kashmir should be placed on the backburner is preposterous because it is precisely due to the Kashmir dispute that millions are wasted on arms, money which could benefit the people.
It's good that after Agra cricket is back between the two countries. And it's good that high level meetings will continue between the two countries. Let's hope it will release tension between the two in a steady manner. Let's pray Musharraf and Vajpayee tone down the extremists on both side of the border. It's the extremists who are interested in maintaining the status quo of tension and terror between the two countries.
It is sad that India lost this golden opportunity to solve the problem of the century and with it bring peace and prosperity to the poor of India.
Ahmed Khan, Greece
The failure of the summit is just because of Pakistan's attitude. Pakistan just wants to snatch Kashmir and mislead its people too. Actually not a single Kashmiri supports Pakistan's move, but only the Hurriat Party is making it a big deal.
Jaswant Singh said it right, bilateral relations cannot be focussed on one single issue. If Pakistan President meant what he said during the Indian President's dinner, that military power cannot solve the Kashmir problem, then he should have recognised the cross-border terrorism and should have given some confidence to the Indian team on mitigating the terrorism emanating from his country. Pakistan is in for further disaster.
I think the summit was a success. At least the two leaders are talking to each other. It is premature of people to assume that the 50 plus year problem of Kashmir can be solved in 2 days. Congratulations to both leaders for holding meeting of future hope.
Faheem Usmani, Pakistan
In response to Vish from USA, what concessions did India make to Pakistan regarding Kashmir anyways? It does not even accepts Kashmir as a dispute leave alone making concessions. And this is a blatant violation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir. After all is was Nehru who took the issue to the UN in the first place.
During the summit the sentiments expressed by people on both sides of the border as well as the people of Kashmir in general is for peace and hope for relations which existed prior to the partition of India. It is unfortunate that the leaders are unable to gather enough courage to overcome the minority extremist view and rise above their self-interests. But I am optimistic that the leaders eventually would succumb to the will of the people which is for peace.
Though the summit has ended in apparent failure, it must be seen as a beginning. Surely, no one expected that a 50 year-old problem would be solved in a few hours. India has a lot of face saving to do before they can agree to some form of independence for Kashmir. Hope the dialogue continues.
I am quite depressed with the attitude shown by Indian press during two day's historic India Pakistan Summit. It is beyond imagination that India will achieve peace with out solving Kashmir issue. The way the Indian press and media project Kashmir issue is a reflection of bias. President Musharraf has pleaded Pakistan's case quite effectively and the world should now clearly understand the Pakistan's point of view. I foresee very little chances of a Kashmir solution in the near future
We all should understand that this is not an easy issue for both the countries. These leaders cannot concede anything or else they would be eliminated.
For both the countries conceding any land would mean one of the worst riots and political turmoil in their respective countries.
Perhaps after a time both countries can think of combining again like the West and East Germany and think of how many people would be happy with that.
Why can't this be a possible solution?
You didn't really expect everything to be wrapped up in one session did you? Peace between two countries that hate each other takes time - the public in both countries have to be prepared for the outcome. But if Uncle Sam wants a stable South Asia, then that is what she will get - that is what Musharraf has been brought in for and India needs peace if it is to make economic progress.
The Agra summit wasn't a failure. It showed that Musharaff was prepared to talk to Vajpayee. They may not have agreed on anything, but the ice has now been broken and hopefully they will talk again. The Kashmir issue is a perennial problem. It needs careful brokering from both sides and concessions from both sides. Pakistan and India will have forge together for the sake of Kashmir otherwise more innocent people will be killed. May be the answer lies in not who controls Kashmir, but rather the way it is controlled. If there was some sort of dual control it may start to ease tensions, as then both countries have legitimacy and they can work together.
The failure of the agra summit to reach a mutual agreement between India and Pakistan towards their long standing dispute over Kahmir, was an inevitable outcome rather than unexpected.
The settlement of this conflict will definitely require mediation of a strong and a decisive third country, who will be able to enforce a reasonable solution. This will bring a sigh of relief in this nuclear infested region.
The summit has once again highlighted the core issue of tension between the two countries. The fact is that India has already learnt that it cannot curb down the freedom movement by force. History has always shown that you can't deny the right of freedom for a long time. We are hopeful that Indian leadership will move forward and accept the reality in the near future. This is certainly in the best interest of both nations.
The Agra summit has finally made one thing clear - that the maximum 'concessions' that India can make on the Kashmir issue do not meet Pakistan's 'minimum' requirements for a settlement of that dispute. So it seems that Pakistan will continue to bleed India by hosting and supporting the Kashmiri insurgents, while its economy (and India's to some extent) goes down the drain.
It was a total failure as far as India was concerned. For Pakistan's leader it was a victory of sorts. Nobody can question his credentials anymore because he made sure it was Kashmir or nothing. Ordinary Kashmiris are the biggest losers. Militants will steal the show from now on. But in the long run India will prevail.
Something is better than NOTHING!!!
India was not serious about this summit from the beginning. This was an expensive show off from both governments. It seems that India doesn't want to compromise on the Kashmir issue, which is considered to be one of the prime issues by Pakistan. It is ridiculous to only discuss the issues that interest of Indian government and not the core issue. How long will these poor Kashmiri people have to sacrifice more?. Plebiscite is their right and should be given to them by both governments. One day eventually India have to admit the freedom of Kashmir.
The talks broke down because there is no internal consensus in India on how to deal with Kaskmir. Do we want to give up the whole of Kashmir, or just the Srinagar Valley or nothing at all. Before wasting more time in talking to Pakistan we need to ascertain public opinion. If the majority of the people don't want to give up Kashmir (which is what I suspect), then let us say that clearly. Let us set the record straight and clarify that we will fight for a thousand years if need be but will not willingly evacuate the valley. Then if Pakistan chooses to continue the proxy war, it can do so at its own peril.
How can India just ignore talking about Kashmir like this? Someone went to their home to talk about Kashmir and India still they wanted to talk about their own interests and issues?
This is ridiculous and of course this will make people of Pakistan angry.
How can one expect such a serious and complex 54 year issue to be resolved in one meeting? It's a miracle that the talks even occurred considering the tensions between the two countries. What is clear is that the agendas of these two nations are still far apart when it comes to the disputed territory of Kashmir. Fact is that the Indian army is suffering from fatigue as the insurgency gains momentum. Even if Pakistan wanted to, they couldn't do much to retard the uprising due to the porous LOC and independent guerilla outfits scattered throughout that country. We only have to look at the Afghan border where the Pakistani government is helpless at curbing the smuggling of arms and flow of refugees. In the meantime the conflict in Kashmir will go on and people on both sides will be deprived of better living standards. The Kashmiris will continue to bear the brunt of this senseless conflict.
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