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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
What can the Agra summit achieve?
General Musharraf
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General Pervez Musharraf is the first Pakistani head of government in 14 years to go to India for a summit meeting.

Ever since the partition of the sub-continent, the two countries have been arch rivals, and their animosity has escalated into a dangerous arms race. Both countries have nuclear weapons.

One of the most contentious issues between the two is the region of Kashmir, which is disputed by both countries.

President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee have extended their summit, which began on Saturday, and are hoping to find common ground after their differences over Kashmir became apparent.

But can the two governments break free from decades of mutual suspicion and mistrust? Can there be a compromise on Kashmir?

Robin Lustig was joined by David Taylor from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University in a Talking Point phone-in programme.

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme

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


    Your reaction

    Your comments since the programme

    The governments of India and Pakistan have pursued the issue of Kashmir with such flavour of extreme nationalism for the last 54 years, that it is now very difficult for any government to make compromises on this issue. Any concession made by either government would lead to major public oppositions within its own people especially considering the heavy price both countries have paid in terms of civilian and military losses. But both leaderships should realise the cost involved in fuelling such false nationalism and extending the dispute for indefinite time. India has a moral duty to provide Kashimiris the right to self-determination. But it is the moral duty of both the countries to prevent fundamentalists from creating another Afghanistan in present Kashmir.
    Anirban Pal, India


    As long as there are fanatics on both sides, there is little hope

    Kirpacharii
    By itself the Summit is a good bold gesture in as much as it might help thaw a bit from the Kargil frozen relationship and set in a friendlier mode. However, generally not much is expected to come out of it because of the diagonally opposite positions and views on important issues especially the vexing & lingering Kashmir problem which is like a pestering wound preying on the psyche of both nations and peoples' mind and eating in to its vitals and energies.
    Pakistan's and some Kashmiris' case is based on narrow concept - religion - while India's on broader, healthier and probably the correct perspective, i.e. unity in diversity - religion & race - shared history and common culture and heritage. While religion, ethnic roots or ideology never have been a binding factor or prevented wars and partitions as seen in case of Pakistan & Bangladesh, Yugoslavian states, Soviet Russia, economic reasons have proven as more compelling reasons & binding force to forge & keep together relationship as evident from European Union or other such progressive national groupings sure to follow in future.
    N J Albert, Cochin, India

    As long as there are fanatics on both sides, there is little hope. India needs to tone down the extremist Hindu leaders while Pakistan should work towards cutting back the Islamic fundamentalist movements, which is not going to happen. If you look at a map of the region there is India in the middle with aggressive Pakistan on one side and China on the other. India will never give up Kashmir since physically and psychologically having Pakistan looking down on them from "above" would never be acceptable.
    Kirpacharii

    All our hopes are with the two leaders discussing peace for the two countries. I hope the summit is a success and there is a stop to all this bloodshed of innocent people. The people of Kashmir have suffered enough due to the terrorist activities and peace must be resumed. Our prayers are with them.
    Sonia Monga, New Delhi, India

    The only foreign policy that Pakistan has is Kashmir and terrorism in India. If Pakistan resolves this then there would be no policy left. They should concentrate more on its own domestic issues like unemployment and poverty than to prey on Indian issues. Kashmir is an integral part of India and Pakistan should return back to India what they took from them by treachery and that's the POK.
    P S Kulkarni, Mumbai, India


    India has a moral duty to provide Kashimiris the right to self-determination

    Anirban Pal, India
    The leaders on both sides have a unique opportunity to positively change the lives of millions of people. Coming days will tell whether they have seized or slipped the moment.
    Shahid Anwar, T.T.Singh,Pakistan

    Suffering in the past 52 years is a gift given by British rulers to Indopak in the shape of Kashmir. After half the century we should understand we achieved what...? It is time of our leaders come out from their egos, think of the more than a billion poor people who cannot afford to have basic facilities of life like food clean water housing medical etc. Our leaders of both sides should avail this chance and decide Kashmir issue with the will of Kashmiris and work for the poor people.
    Sajid Mahmood, Lahore, Pakistan

    I was really surprised after hearing Manhotra's comment on Star News. He just wanted to talk about Siachen where lot of money is spent. He is really not bothered about the lives of Kashmiris, where daily number of peoples and children are killed. I was upset with the stubborn attitude of Manhotra. Kashmir is the main issue and it will remain forever until it is solved. I want to ask the BJP government why are they not trying to solve the core issue?
    M. Ali Raffat, Lahore and Pakistan

    The present political situation in the sub-continent is not very encouraging. I believe that the present talks between the two head of states wont achieve anything. The conflict between the two countries has a long history and the matter cannot be solved within a few days. In retrospect when we look at the history we will come to the conclusion that such talks don't achieve the purpose. I also sincerely believe that the fate of Kashmir should be decided by the Kashmiris, rather than the Pakistanis or Indians.
    Nabeel Bin Salem, Toronto, Canada


    Most people in India, Pak and Bangladesh prefer a Unified Indian Federation

    Kashmiri, USA
    It is very difficult to maintain good relationship with Pakistan unless the core issue of Kashmir has been settled? Do you agree? Therefore, all talks are not fruitful, they only satisfy the outside world.
    Krish, Dubai, UAE

    Well, it is to be hoped that peace can first be established through dialog, as the benefits will chiefly be economic and will improve people's quality of life. However, as for reunification, that would be great if both sides want it, but what a monster of a cricket team would result? Poor England, they would have even less chance on the sub continent.
    Hakan Aysan

    I am from Kashmir and have relatives not only in both parts of Kashmir but also in India and Pakistan. Why do I need to have to apply for visas to visit my relatives for family reunions? Most people in India, Pak and Bangladesh prefer a Unified Indian Federation. Kashmiri, USA

    It is apparent in this forum that the majority of participants are positive about the summit. Add to that the heart-warming scene of seeing Vajpayee and Musharraf shaking hands on Indian soil, sitting and talking together, and even smiling at each other. We should all understand, just as I have during these last three days, that the purpose of this summit is not to solve 54 years of hatred, or even to become best friends. It is to open communication with each other, give hope to the people of India and Pakistan that their neighbours aren't devils, and that maybe, just maybe, something good might come out of these talks, and hopefully more to come, that would lead Indians and Pakistanis to finally realise that they gain nothing by hating each other. And if nothing else, at least let the gentlemen start playing cricket together!
    Medha Soni, Kiev, Ukraine

    India did not and will not accept any deal on Kashmir, because of other separatist movements in its certain states. I don't think there will be any breakthrough out of this summit especially on Kashmir.
    Syed Abdulwaheed Shah, Gujranwala, Pakistan


    Both countries would undoubtedly earn a great deal from tourism

    Philip Mahoney, Ankara, Turkey
    I visited Indian Kashmir last year as part of a holiday in India. Kashmir is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been - and I travel a lot. Both countries would undoubtedly earn a great deal from tourism if there was peace and guaranteed safety in the region. Personally, I saw no violence, I was very warmly welcomed by the people and I left with unforgettable memories. I would return to Kashmir tomorrow - either side. No politics for me - just appreciation of fabulous natural beauty and extremely kind, hospitable people. Thank you.
    Philip Mahoney, Ankara, Turkey

    I agree with Sameen Khan from Pakistan, perhaps a UN-sponsored referendum is the best idea for Kashmir. I think that Kashmir should belong to Pakistan because most of the residents of that area are Muslim. It doesn't matter what the leaders say, it matters what the people themselves want.
    Ron, Ancaster, Canada

    Both countries were formed due to the separatist policies of the British. Let us hope that the leaders talk of uniting India and Pakistan. That would be wonderful. Most of the world order is changing. Germany has united; North and South Korea are talking of reunification. Why can't we?
    Anurag, Delhi, India


    Finally, the leaders of India and Pakistan are showing statesmanship

    Roop Misir, Toronto, Canada
    Finally, the leaders of India and Pakistan are showing statesmanship and confronting the common problems facing the subcontinent. All the people stand to benefit. The establishment of peace will undoubtedly usher in an era where efforts will be directed at solving economic, social and cultural problems.
    Roop Misir, Toronto, Canada

    The leaders of both countries have got to understand the fact that instead of wasting people's money on wars, they should instead spendthe money on technological advances and save the brain drain to super-powers. Good Luck!
    Satyen Naik, India/ USA

    India and Pakistan uniting is a good idea. Before this happens, they need to be able to talk to each other as normal neighbours.
    Anil Kumar, Los Angeles

    Your comments during the programme


    They fear the likes of German reunification taking place in the Indian subcontinent

    Mani, San Jose, USA
    Pakistan cannot justify its nationhood without projecting India as the enemy, due to the history of its creation. The fact that Pakistanis live peacefully with Indians in every part of the world is even more difficult for the Pakistani leaders because they fear the likes of German reunification taking place in the Indian subcontinent.
    Mani, San Jose, USA

    Let the Kashmiris decide their fate whether they want to stay with Pakistan, India or be independent.Any solution not acceptable to Kashmiris will not mean anything.
    Muhammad Asim, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

    There can be no trust until India agrees to hold a referendum in Kashmir in accordance with the UNO resolution. One must not forget that Mr Nehru accepted and promised to hold this referendum.
    Saleem Poshni, Canada


    I feel that the best thing is to continue discussions

    R. Subramonian, Thiruvananthapuram, India
    I feel that the best thing is to continue discussions. After all Rome was not built in a day. There could be beginning with other subjects such as trade negotiations in the days of global village. Why not stop terrorist activities?
    R. Subramonian, Thiruvananthapuram, India

    That the two countries are talking is a great stride towards permanent peace in the subcontinent. It is better to have a protracted talking spree than a 'two-day' war that will cost irreparable losses. I wish the two leaders a huge success.
    Go Adegoke, Phd, Ibadan, Nigeria

    It's difficult but it's not impossible. We have to be optimistic about the current summit. At least both countries are trying their level best, we should support them rather be critical of their efforts.
    Saima. A. Khan, Pakistan


    India and Pakistan have to realise that they are too similar to live apart

    Sarit Arora, Mumbai, India
    India and Pakistan have to realise that they are too similar to live apart like they have been doing for these past 54 years. The artificial line that runs through the subcontinent cannot be erased now nor it can be redrawn by blood. Too much blood has already been shed, and the leaders have to realise this when they sit together at the table and talk. Hawkish positions will lead nowhere.
    Sarit Arora, Mumbai, India

    I fully agree with Mr Srinivas Reddy, that the sooner the better for both countries to start talking of merging into a single entity like Germany. The theory of religious basis of partition has done no good to both sides of the border.
    Giridhar, Hyderabad, India

    Pakistan should focus on other issues like terrorism and drug trafficking rather than eyeing at Kashmir which is a part of India. Also Pakistan must respect the agreements and act accordingly not to instigate war against India.
    Haridas, USA


    The best solution is to re-unite India and Pakistan

    Rajat Bhatia, New Delhi, India
    The best solution is to re-unite India and Pakistan. Partition in 1947 was one of the greatest disasters in human terms in the history of this planet. When the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain can come tumbling down and the two Germany's could be re-united, why can't a barbed wire fence be brought down and discarded into the rubbish bin of a turbulent history?
    Rajat Bhatia, New Delhi, India

    People of Pakistan and India have to realise the advantages of peace and force their leaders to achieve this.
    Narasimha Murty, Dallas, USA

    I don't think that this summit will result in any substantial result. The summit can be judged as fruitful even if both the parties agree to continue the process of negotiations. The 54 year dispute of Kashmir cannot be solved in 54hours.
    Chennai, India

    Where there is a will, there is a way. If India and Pakistan sincerely want to solve the Kashmir issue, the Agra summit will stand testimony to their efforts.
    Sami, USA

    Your comments before we went ON AIR


    It will be impossible for the Indian and Pakistani governments to liberate themselves from mutual mistrust and suspicion

    Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India
    It will be impossible for the Indian and Pakistani governments to liberate themselves from mutual mistrust and suspicion, nurtured over several decades, at a single sitting in Agra. If there is a give and take by either nation at the outset on any single issue, big or small, the other will spontaneously reciprocate the gesture. For instance if Pakistan is able to assure India that it will take sincere steps to put an end to cross-border terrorism, India's core concern, India on her part will be prepared to discuss the Kashmir issue, Pakistan's pet theme. However, General Musharraf must understand that Kashmir will always remain an integral part of India and any solution to it must recognise this simple truth.
    Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India

    The decision by President Musharraf is in good direction but I don't think there will be much progress. Time and time again the leaders from both countries have come together and the outcome was not constructive. I have been to many countries and people from both India and Pakistan do not have any problem in living together. We are only looking things from India's and Pakistan's point of view, what about the other people involve in Kashmir? Both leaders have very big duty toward people of Kashmir and we all will have to wait and see what they will be doing gain confidence of the world community.
    Vimal, Toronto, Canada

    Let us all hope for peace. This is the closest that both India and Pakistan can get and let's pray that the opportunity is not wasted. Restoration of peace will enable the energy to be utilised for the development of both the nations. We were once a one nation and that for thousands of years. Maybe becoming a one nation is highly improbable, but becoming friends and good neighbours is very much possible.
    Sandeep Meher, London, UK

    Our expectations from the summit are unrealistically high simply because the stated positions of the two adversaries are poles apart. Each of them has refused to budge or even compromise. We can only hope that this meeting will make them aware of the futility of warring with each other and ultimately lead towards the goal of peaceful coexistence, whatever it takes to achieve it.
    Naseer Ansari, Deerfield, IL, USA


    Let's take that extra step to safeguard our rich heritage

    Anil S. Karkera, Los Angeles, CA
    Indians and Pakistanis living in the UK, Canada and the United States have proved that we still love and care for each other like we did when we were one single nation in the Indian subcontinent. Let not the land of Kashmir destroy this relationship. Let's take that extra step to safeguard our rich heritage.
    Anil S. Karkera, Los Angeles, CA

    The Kashmir problem was a side-effect of the partition of India into India and Pakistan. Partition is the real problem that needs to be solved. Trying to solve Kashmir is like "a doctor giving medicine for a headache to a patient who actually have a eye-sight problem".
    Ashok, Bokaro, India

    The leaders of both countries have a golden opportunity to show the rest of us how to solve so called intractable problems, ie Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine. As a Christian I pray that the two great countries India and Pakistan find a way to live in peace.
    Trevor Lindley, Bradford UK

    I am in complete agreement with Iqbal of Mumbai. People of both countries have to change their mindset.

    For this, political and religious leaders of both countries should desist from issuing rhetorical statements. Venkat, Chicago


    Both the countries have to show flexibility while discussing Kashmir

    Sania Gul, karachi
    I think this summit is of purely ceremonial significance and will not achieve anything tangible.

    For success, both parties have to mmake concessions. Pakistan's existence is founded on continuing animosity and rivalry with India and no Pakistani leader can hope to survive by making any concessions to India.

    For the Indians, it remains an issue of submitting to terrorist tactics which will not happen.

    I believe that trade does not figure on the agenda which means that the future of Indo-Pak relations will be defined by Kashmir which in all probability will continue to be settled by guns and bombs, and the continuong spectre of war.
    Gaurav Johri, Boston, USA

    Armed forces on both sides won't like a solution to the Kashmir issue. An example is the year 1999 conflict in Kargil, which helped theIndian Army gain an increase of 28% in defence budget, while on the other side Pakistan Army took the control of whole country.

    With the Kashmir soultion resolved, how would the big army generals on both sides earn their livings
    Mahboob Ihsan, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Let the Kashmiris go to the polls for a referendum on their future, under United Nations supervision. The same happened in East Timor recently.
    Sameen Khan, Nowshera (N-W.F.P), Pakistan

    The summit is the first step towards peace in South Asia.The sight of Musharraf and Vajpayee shaking hands is heart-warming.

    Both the countries have to show flexibility while discussing Kashmir. It is time for peace now. It is time the doves overtook the hawks.
    Sania Gul, karachi, Pakistan

    Since Pakistan insists on making the Kashmir issue the core of the talks, nothing substantial should come out of it. For a Kashmir peace process to work, there needs to be a unilateral ceasefire in the region for a period of time before talks can take place.
    Sandeep , Sydney, Australia


    I wish both the leaders success and wisdom

    Imran, Rawalpindi
    The recent summit will bear fruit only if India shows some courage and stays away from its 53-year stance and makes grounds for comprehensive and more realistic, result-oriented talks for the good of over one billion people of the sub-continent.This is high time for both the nations to push aside other differences and use their energies on solving this core issue, which has plagued the lives of people of both the countries.The major part of the responsibility lies with India since it should comply with the UN resolutions.

    I wish both the leaders success and wisdom so that they can lead their nations towards the road to progress and prosperity which is long awaited. Amen.
    Imran, Rawalpindi

    At least both leaders try to come to peace settlement on Kashmir - this is most welcome.
    Faheem Moor, Germany

    It will be impossible for the Indian and Pakistani Governments to liberate themselves from mutual mistrust and suspicion, nurtured over several decades, at a single sitting in Agra. If there is give and take by either nation at the outset on any single issue, big or small, the other will spontaneously reciprocate the gesture. For instance if Pakistan is able to assure India that it will take sincere steps to put an end to cross-border terrorism - India's core concern - India on her part will be prepared to discuss the Kashmir issue - Pakistan's pet theme. However, General Musharraf must understand that Kashmir will always remain an integral part of India and any solution to it must recognise this simple truth.
    Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India


    54 years of enmity cannot be done away with in a matter of 3 days

    Manjari C, Bangalore, India
    54 years of enmity cannot be done away with in a matter of 3 days, but at least an effort is being made to initiate a more peaceful relationship between the two countries.
    Manjari C, Bangalore, India

    From a Pakistani perspective the main reason for mutual suspicion is Kashmir. The right of self determination for the Kashmiris has been recognised by the United Nations in a declaration. Both Pakistan and India have to give up their tough stance in the interest of the Kashmiris. The solution is geographically simple. Pakistan keeps the part of Kashmir that it already has and India takes the predominantly Hindu part, Jamoon. The beautiful valley of Kashmir in the middle should be a neutral independent state. I think this solution would be agreeable to all, as everybody gets something.
    Mahmud Qures, New York, USA

    While I am very glad that the two leaders are meeting and would like to be positive about the result, I cannot help but be sceptical about whether it will be a successful meeting or not. My first instinct is to say no, it's impossible. Generations of hatred and mistrust cannot be removed in 2 days. Then the other side of me says yes, maybe there is God who might have mercy on us and grace us with nothing short of a miracle. I say this as an Indian, but I'm sure many Pakistanis would agree with me - especially if I said it in Urdu.
    Medha Soni, Kiev, Ukraine

    As it appears, peace is not in sight. The problem of Kashmir is not going to be solved as the Indian foreign minister has said that Kashmir is "non-negotiable". Ok, so why meet and waste tea?
    Wajahat, Rochester Hills, USA


    Why can't India and Pakistan unite again?

    Kumar, USA
    The real solution to the problems of south Asia is actually quite simple. We must realise that despite our numerous differences, we are actually one nation. If this unity comes in the subcontinent, we would be again a strong people and country. If east and west Germany can unite, north and south Korea can talk peace, all of Europe can have one union, why can't India and Pakistan unite again? We don't have to continue living the legacy of hatred and division. If the unity comes, we all can focus on really urgent issues like poverty, development and progress rather than on Kashmir.
    Kumar, USA

    I think both India and Pakistan must first recognise the root cause of the conflict: that the British sought to divide the two nations on the basis of religion. Pakistan, India and Kashmir are the sorry victims of the effects of divide and rule tactics employed by the ex-colonial powers. It's sad that both sides didn't have the strategic insight to expunge the British before. It's sadder still to see that both sides still don't possess the intelligence to recognise that cooperation (in trade, information, technology and, yes, even military) is in their own interests. Pakistan especially needs to focus more on its internal growth strategy rather than think of scoring against India. Pakistan ought to free itself from the throngs of Mullahism and India of its jingoism.
    George Wickenden, United Kingdom

    It is all hogwash designed to make Musharraf look smart in the eyes of the international community. The Pakistan army has always operated on these lines, creating border tension with India to make democratic governments look bad and justify their own existence. When an army ruler is in place there is always an attempt to ease tensions at the border, as the home front heats up with opposition from democratic forces. As long as the army is powerful in Pakistan there will be no peace with India. The invented and imagined threat of India is the only justification for Pakistan's massive defence budget.
    Anisa, London, UK


    Pakistani people always wanted a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue

    Sharjeel Ahsan, Dubai, U.A.E.
    Pakistani people always wanted a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, though political leaders before were not very sincere and really interested in solving the issue. But now Gen. Pervez is very sincere in doing something in this regard and he is very right in saying that Kashmir is the 'core' issue between these two countries. Without solving this core issue, no other issue could be solved. This was the main reason for three wars between these two countries. Now if India says that Kashmir is not the 'core' issue it clearly means that they are not sincere in solving the dispute but the summit is just a political stunt.

    I live in Dubai where both Indians and Pakistanis are working together. Believe me these are political people who are not interested in solving the disputes - otherwise both countries' people have love and respect for each other.
    Sharjeel Ahsan, Dubai, U.A.E.

    I have always been worried about India and Pakistan fighting about Kashmir. I feel Kashmir is not at all a problem and not an issue. In my view the real issue is the India-Pakistan partition that was formed for the selfish interests of our political leaders during our independence. In my opinion all problems will get solved by themselves if we try to move towards merging together and formation of a great nation. I have no doubt that we together can become a great superpower, not only in terms of our military power but also in terms of economic power. We must seriously consider this, as it is high time we stop wasting our resources on an issue which actually is not at all an issue. I feel we must follow the example set by Germany and which is being followed by Korea now.
    K. Srinivas Reddy, India

    The BJP and its allies in the NDA need to quit making such a big deal about the meeting between Musharraf and members of the Hurriyat Conference. They keep claiming that the Hurriyat Conference is a non-entity. Fine. Then treat it as such and focus on the main issue - the meeting between Vajpayee and Musharraf. Why does it matter to Indians if the Hurriyat wants to have tea with the Pakistani General? Let them sit on his lap for all we care. Having said that, Pakistan should have had the sense not to complicate matters at this stage.
    Indradev Kadidal, USA


    Kashmir must stay as part of India

    Pierre du Plessis, South Africa
    Kashmir must stay as part of India. If it is because of Muslim population in Kashmir that interests Pakistan, Pakistan should ask China also for provinces that have Muslim majority. Besides that, US must keep away from this sub-continent and stop supporting Pakistan through back doors. India tried its best to bring peace, but the West does not like to have peace in the sub-continent for their selfish motives.
    Pierre du Plessis, Pretoria, South Africa

    Why is Pakistan so concerned of the well being of Kashmiri people when the economic and religious well being of its own people is in shambles? Has General Musharraf stepped out of his house to see how satisfied the average Pakistani is doing? I don't think so! Also I don't think he could do much anyway because Pakistani high school children are taught that their No. 1 enemy is the Indian, their neighbour.

    I don't think anything good is going to come out of the summit because Pakistan is bent on discussing Kashmir and nothing else. Pakistan could be focusing on issues such as non-incitement of cross border terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, its economy etc.
    Nitish Dass, Chicago, USA


    The issues will stay as they are

    Rakesh, Singapore
    I don't think so, India and Pakistan doesn't want to compromise on anything. The issues will stay as they are. Nobody is worried about the Kashmir people and their suffering. India is worried about it territory - not its people and Pakistan is concerned about how to gain more territory.
    Rakesh, Singapore

    Kashmir is the Berlin wall of South Asia, on both sides of the border we share a common heritage, one of love and peace, it's time we started taking responsibility for our actions and work together towards a bright future.
    Anil S. Karkera, Los Ageles, CA

    Musharraf's invitation to the Hurriyat for a reception at the Pakistani Embassy in India, to the exclusion of the legitimate Kashmiri authorities, sets a dangerous precedent. Musharraf should understand one thing. Kashmir is, and always will be, an integral part of India. A final solution on Kashmir is a possibility, but only in the context of India maintaining her sovereignty over Kashmir. And such a solution would be dependent on two things: firstly, Pakistan must stop supporting cross-border terrorism; secondly, Pakistan must swiftly relinquish its military dictatorship and swiftly return to an approximation of democracy.
    Rahul Mahajan, UK/India

    Deep damage has been done by both sides that will need to be undone. Pakistan has cultivated the deep feelings of hatred and allowed religion to permeate and fertilize these. Such actions doom relationships not for decades, but generations. India has been foolish in treating Kashmir with special status all along, rather than allowing it to assimilate in its mainstream. Now Pakistan lacks a leader that can really speak for the masses, and has the vision to undo the damage done over the last so many decades; how can he, after all if he tries to do so, he himself will fall victim to the sharks waiting to pounce on him.

    Pakistan needs to toe along with the path being offered by India to let the peoples of both sides see and feel each other out. Only one generation ago, the lines that divide these two countries were non-existent. Finally the people's will has to prevail; only then will the politicians dirty agendas come to an end. So the people of India and Pakistan, wake up and see how the politicians have used you as a means to further their ends. That is the only way.
    Rick Chow, Texas, USA

    Unless India is willing to end its unjust and illegal occupation of Kashmir, there will be no worthwhile result from the forthcoming, or any other summit. India's occupation of Kashmir is no more legitimate than was Soviet Union's domination of Eastern Europe, and if Ronald Reagan could stand before the Berlin wall and ask Gorbachev to tear it down, why can't Parvez Musharraf ask Vajpayee to obey the rule of law as spelled out by the UN resolutions in Kashmir?
    Naved, USA

    No, when there is no trust between both parties, nothing can be achieved. India cannot leave Kashmir and Pakistan cannot settle without it. Whoever compromises on this issue, is done forever. In short, we have to learn to live with this problem.
    Kulveer Virk, Windsor, Canada

    India and Pakistan should remove the visa restrictions between their people. Once the people of both countries start interacting, doing business with each other and familiarizing the way both live across the border, the tensions will automatically vanish. The Kashmir issue can only be resolved if both countries start interacting at the lowest level. Once people get to know each other and visit each other's cities, there will no longer be a Kashmir issue.
    Ahsan Mirza, Sydney, Australia

    I think both India and Pakistan must first recognize the root cause of the conflict : that the British sought to divide the two nations on the basis of religion. Pakistan, India and Kashmir are the sorry victims of the effects of divide and rule tactics employed by the ex-colonial powers. It's sad that both sides didn't have the strategic insight to expunge the British before. It's sadder still to see that both sides still don't possess the intelligence to recognize that cooperation (in trade, information, technology and yes even military) is in their own interests. Pakistan especially needs to focus more on its internal growth strategy rather than think of scoring small against India. Pakistan ought to free itself from Mullahism and India of its jingoism.
    George Wickenden, United Kingdon

    Problem between India and Pakistan is not in Kashmir but in the minds of the people. The only way we can achieve peace is by changing our mindset. Therefore confidence-building measures should get a front seat in the talks.
    Iqbal, Mumbai, India


    it is definitely a good move that the two nations are coming together

    Amit Sibal, London, England
    I think it is definitely a good move that the two nations are coming together, and a positive sign is shown by General Pervez Musharraf by being the first head of government to go to India for fourteen years. However, progress will be difficult and limited, but the fact that moves are being made on both sides shows that there is a genuine willingness for peace. There have been mistakes in the past, and although these have to be remembered and lessons learned, so that they are not repeated, dwelling on them will stop progression. Remember, people are slow to praise and quick to criticise.
    Amit Sibal, London, England

    It's time for the leaders to understand what the people of our two countries really need. There's no denying the truth that more than 50 precious years are wasted on scoring points over each other. The result has been all round moral decadence, social stagnation and cynicism. I believe it's time to take the bull by the horns, time to change, to cleanse hearts and solve the problem for good. A little courage, and we will have crossed the bridge to make history.
    Aziz Ahmad, Hapur, India

    Converting the LOC into an international border is the only viable solution. It has to be followed by an agreement that binds both the countries from providing the so-called 'moral and political' support to terrorists operating on either soil. This can happen now, at the Agra summit, if both the leaders are bold and do not subscribe to pressure from hate mongers. If not, it will eventually happen a few years down the road, but only after the loss of many more precious lives and at the expense of already scant resources. Wake up, Pakistan. Wake up, India. Remember, we come from the same home, we share languages, cultures, religions. Let us also share a prosperous future.
    Pritpal, California, USA

    I guess more money and effort is being spent in trying to defend an area of land than is being spent in developing the two nations, particularly after Pakistan's economy has admittedly been in the doldrums. Now if the governments gave up their "Kashmir" rhetoric and started working on more important issues like bilateral trade, trust building, defence spending cuts, technology and sports, it might eventually give an atmosphere of trust and the maturity to handle a problem like Kashmir. Otherwise this summit is going to be a lot of initial publicity and then wasted trust which might find an end eventually with a war as happened in Kargil.
    Bashyam, USA


    The big powers will never like India and Pakistan to be at peace

    Qasim, KL, Malaysia
    If both India and Pakistan make peace, who is going to lose? The correct answer is 'the West'. To whom will France, USA, Russia, Britain, and other EU countries sell their weapons? We must remember that the big powers will never like India and Pakistan to be at peace.
    Qasim, KL, Malaysia

    Both leaders are trying to change the war mentality towards peace. If they failed to achieve anything concrete in the first meeting, subsequent meeting will help them. This is a good start.
    Jay, Sydney, Australia

    It's great to know that both countries are progressing towards peace. Certainly the problem of five decades cannot be solved in a summit, but it is a positive step taken by both countries towards peaceful resolution - if not resolution at least peace. I wish the people of India and Pakistan good luck and pray God to shower peace.
    Satya, Singapore


    Agra summit talks can pave the way for more substantive talks in the future

    Mohammed B. Alam, Miyazaki, Japan
    I think both India and Pakistan will try to listen to one another's concerns and wish list, and deal with it in a kinder and gentler way by taking some initial first steps such as easing of visa rules and travel restrictions between the two countries. If the leaders of two countries can make a good, modest beginning keeping the rhetoric aside, Agra summit talks can pave the way for more substantive talks in the future.
    Mohammed B. Alam, Miyazaki, Japan

    Both the countries can prosper. The amount of money spent to combat terrorism if used for social well being, will help in development of both nations. Hope the two leaders will achieve the result.
    Sharma, Bangalore, India

    I think neither India nor Pakistan will gain anything by fighting over Kashmir. Rather, they both have more to lose. Instead of fighting wars over Kashmir, they can work together to improve their economies and the standard of living of their people. Set aside the differences in religion, language etc. and try to build peace and harmony in the subcontinent. After all we both have same histories and similar current situation with poverty and illiteracy. So why not set aside our differences and strive to build better future for both the countries.
    Manjusha, NJ,USA


    A truce will benefit both countries and help each one of them to indulge in progressive actions

    Shomaila Jafri, Delhi, India
    I think it's about time that the 2 countries stop wasting their resources on wasteful fighting. A truce will benefit both countries and help each one of them to indulge in progressive actions. We need to encourage such kind of open communication between India and Pakistan so that both the countries can share and develop as distinct, prosperous nations. The message of love and harmony, two crucial traits that both the nations epitomise towards the world, should put it in practice for each other.
    Shomaila Jafri, Delhi, India

    No doubt, it is a welcoming move, but the principles of justice demand that the Kashmir issue is resolved according to UN resolutions. Isn't it preposterous that Kashmiris are not even part of the peace talk?
    Asif Iqbal, Dundee, UK

    India, Bangladesh and Pakistan should come together just like East and West Germany. They are people of the same race, just separated by religion. Even now there are more Muslims in India than there are in Pakistan. The British divided the sub-continent under their policy of "divide and rule". Both countries can prosper immensely if they have a common army and currency. Let the forces of unity bring together what the colonial powers cast asunder!
    Eddy, Davis, USA

    The biggest breakthrough is the talks themselves.
    Nadeem Shah, San Diego, CA

    India and Pakistan will succeed if they talk 'to' each other and not 'at' each other.
    Nadeem Shah, San Diego, CA

    A significant breakthrough in the summit talks is unlikely, but I believe it will start a process that may lead towards the normalisation of relationship between the two countries. It will start a dialogue process which will contain promise of a possible solution that may be acceptable to many. It's definitely better than not talking at all and relying on guns to push the other party.
    Ajay Kumar Ray, Oklahoma USA


    I don't expect any breakthrough in this summit

    Z. Asghar, TX, USA
    I don't expect any breakthrough in this summit. The only viable solution to the Kashmir problem is to implement the 1948 UN resolutions on Kashmir, which state that a plebiscite must be held in the valley for the people to decide whether they want to join India or Pakistan. And India will never agree to that because they know the outcome of such an exercise.
    Z. Asghar, TX, USA

    With the insurgency of the extreme militant groups operating in Kashmir, India should consider this summit as a means to rid that region of all militants. I consider the presence of foreign militants on Indian soil a threat to national security of India. This threat can grow and build into a reason for war. The quickest solution should be to draw permanent boundaries while each side keeps the region of Kashmir that they are currently holding. India has more to lose if there are no solid moves made towards the Kashmir issue.
    Sadiq Mehdi, Los Angeles, CA, USA


    This is the first step in the right direction by both parties

    Aniruddha Phatak, UK
    India and Pakistan can and will achieve a lot. This is the first step in the right direction by both parties. It is very important that India and Pakistan should come together and discuss issues like trade and culture and sports apart from the border problems. My idea is that there should be 2 separate teams. One for border issues and the other for a collection of sports, economical issues etc. These should work independently and in parallel and aim for a win-win situation. It is possible.
    Aniruddha Phatak, Maidenhead, UK

    I don't think Pakistan is trying enough to improve the bilateral relationship. I think both countries should have wider latitude to the problems, like trade, visa, poverty and Kashmir.
    Rizwan Alam, Montreal, Canada/India


    I do not think Kashmir problem can be resolved in a day

    Srinivas, USA
    I am expecting nothing more than a few statements (maybe even contradicting from both sides) and agreements, at best, just to save their own skins. My response would have been much more optimistic, if Pakistan President were not adamant about just talking Kashmir and nothing else. I do not think Kashmir problem can be resolved in a day. Both countries should build enough trust before they attempt to solve this issue. God bless Kashmiris!
    Srinivas, USA

    I don't expect any breakthrough or sudden advance by this summit. The reason being that none of the two countries has yet started building up any national consensus, without which the governments are not free to decide or make any allowances for each other.
    Agha Ata, USA

    As long as there are fanatic elements at work on both sides, there is little hope. India needs to tone down the rhetoric of extremist Hindu leaders while Pakistan should work towards cutting back the Islamic fundamentalist movements so powerful up in northern areas. Only then will confidence build up and lead to hopes of a lasting peace.
    Ashfaq Dawood, Pakistan


    Pakistan and India need to face up to the real problems facing their country

    Nahdia Khan, London, UK
    Pakistan and India need to face up to the real problems facing their country. Having recently visited both countries - I was extremely disappointed with the conditions that the mass of the population are subject to. In contrast, the elites live a life of luxury. Instead of spending taxpayers' money on defence budgets they should acknowledge that agreeing on each others borders is the least of their worries. Pakistan and India need to respect each other as nation states who have the right to exist. Patriotism must not get in the way as this will be used by those opposed to a solution to the Kashmir issue.
    Nahdia Khan, London, UK

    India should act as a big brother. It is relatively stable, therefore, it can afford to give more concessions. If India could resolve the Kashmir issue, it could play a better role at international level, and maybe win a permanent seat at the UN Security Council - even Pakistan might support this move.
    Muhammad Farooq, Carthage, Texas, USA


    The Agra summit is good news for everyone interested in good relations between India and Pakistan

    Albert P'Rayan, India/ Rwanda
    The Agra summit is good news for everyone interested in good relations between India and Pakistan. Are the two leaders, Vajpayee and Musharraf genuine? Do they have any hidden agenda? Vajpayee, in my view, is not broadminded and he is controlled by the RSS. Musharraf too is not free from pressure from Islam fundamentalists. If something good happens it is good news for peace lovers like me.
    Albert P'Rayan, India/ Rwanda

    How can a general who has come to power after dismissing a democratically elected government talk about "rights of self determination" for somebody else? Musharaff cannot be seen to be giving any sort of concession to India nor is he interested in one since his and Pakistan's survival is based on anti-India rhetoric. Also, if he is seen to be giving anything at all, he is bound to lose power in a matter of months.
    Chandramouli, India

    Nothing is going to happen ...
    Ravi, USA

    As the summit is approaching, both players seem to drifting apart. I pray, hope and wish that our leaders will be guided by peace, love, goodwill and friendship rather than war, hatred, suspicion and animosity. It is well within the capabilities of the two leaders to choose what attitudes will guide them. I pray that the Almighty blesses the two leaders with good qualities for the benefit of the people of the two countries, South Asia and the world at large.
    Mala, India


    The people from both India and Pakistan want peace

    Mumtaz Ahmad, USA
    The solution to the Kashmir dispute lies in compromise. Both India and Pakistan need to step back from their original positions and work to find a middle ground. Vajpay and Musharraf can make history if they are willing to rise above past prejudices that have marred relations between these two great South Asian nations. The people from both India and Pakistan want peace. Let's see if their leaders are capable of delivering it.
    Mumtaz Ahmad, USA

    I think it is great that Pakistan is taking positive interest by attending the summit. But will it resolve the Kashimir issue? Not a chance. The West seems to forget that these two countries have had a long disturbed relation that can only be resolved with a positive attitude and support from the West.
    Naveed

    What can the Agra summit achieve? I think this summit has already achieved something even before it has started and the achievement is HOPE, even though it is remote. In my opinion the best possible outcome for both India and Pakistan from this summit would be if they agree to hold a second round of talks in mid September and in the meantime realistically analysis what could be the win-win solution.
    Tariq Salam, Pakistan

    Pakistan and India should become a confederation. This will lesson their defence budgets and will help build their economies.
    Gutaani Pyaray Lal, Uganda


    The forthcoming summit is good news

    Raj, USA
    The forthcoming summit is good news. Everyone involved in the talks should be given a free hand to arrive at some conclusion. We have more important challenges to face. In Pakistan more than 150 million people are living below the poverty line. In India more than 500 million are below the poverty line. Let's think about bettering the conditions of our people. The money spent on our defence budgets, if diverted to development will give better roads, clean water and schools for all our villages. Let's talk about progress.
    Raj, USA

    The only problem between the two countries has always been Kashmir and this is a great opportunity for them to finally get rid of this stalemate. The only problem that India faces with giving Kashmiris freedom is that other provinces will ask the same.
    Faiz Amir, Pakistan

    I believe that Kashmir is an independent country that should be allowed to make its own choices about its internal affairs. India and Pakistan should step back and let it do this.
    Erick Green, USA


    Both parties have to move together and forget about the events of the past

    Khuram Khan, Canada
    For once let's all hope that Pakistan and India can set aside their petty differences and work collectively to forge stronger economic and political links between the two countries. Both parties have to move together and forget about the events of the past, no matter how painful they are since they cannot be reversed.
    Khuram Khan, Canada

    The "Agra summit" will work if it is approached as an "Agree Summit".
    Nikhil Kumar, UAE

    At the Agra summit, both leaders should discuss a possible economic union of South Asia. This will result in a long-term solution to Indo-Pak problems.
    Sam, Kenya

    Kashmir has very little to do with the mistrust between India and Pakistan. Successive Pakistani governments have made the hatred of infidel India the cornerstone of their foreign policy; insistence upon winning back infidel India for Islam is preached from mosques all over Pakistan. As long as this fundamental mindset is not altered, very little will change. President Musharraf seems to be doing his best to break away from this centuries-old hatred, but how far he will succeed remains to be see.
    Dinesh Dey, India

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
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    ... to both sides of the debate
    Samvit Rawal, Pune, India
    "Summit won't achieve anything"
    Ahmad Ali, Bristol, UK
    "People want a peaceful solution"
    Chandramouli Mysore, Chennai, India
    "Musharaff does not have the credibility"
    K. Srinivas Reddy, Bangalore, India
    "Kashmir is not a problem and not an issue"
    Subhakam Misra, New Jersey, USA
    "Anger from the Indian side is justified"
    Dora Samuel, Berlin, Germany
    "Kashmir could be made a separate independent country"
    Khurram Iqbal, Lahore, Pakistan
    "It's about time that such a summit was launched"
    Major T. Nasir, Gujranwala, Pakistan
    "There may not be another chance"
    Susan Taylor, Vienna, Austria
    "I do hope that some success is achieved
    See also:

    19 Jun 01 | South Asia
    Date set for India-Pakistan summit
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