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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Can outside mediation help India and Pakistan?
The summit between India and Pakistan ended with disagreement over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Although both countries have pledged to keep on talking, they are blaming each other for the failure at Agra.

Does this mean they can't settle their differences and need outside help?

And could outside intervention succeed in such an intractable dispute? Tell us what you think.

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

Your reaction

At least the two countries began talking to each other

Tabarak Ali, Multan, Pakistan
Though the Agra summit was not fruitful we can't yet say it was a totally failure. At least the two countries began talking to each other and the Indian PM also accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan. If both parties are sincere in wanting to solve their dispute and other problems certainly there is no need for third party meditation.
Tabarak Ali, Multan, Pakistan

Who said the summit had failed? At least the two countries came face to face to discuss the issues between them. This might be the beginning of a new era of economic growth in the region. Let's wait and see till the next few talks. But as regards a third party, I don't think it is necessary. India and Pakistan could resolve all of their problems once the cross border terrorism is stopped and a control over the LOC is established.
Sunil P, UAE

I do not fully agree with the concept of bringing in a third party. As such the UN has been involved for the last 50 years now, and it has not helped much. It's high time both countries learnt from the mistakes they have made which has led to wars and the bloodshed of innocent people.
Trupti, India

Outside intervention is not only feasible, but necessary

Imran Sharih, Pakistan
The India-Pakistan conflict has persisted for over 50 years despite the immense suffering of ordinary people on both sides of the border. Since time immemorial, India has claimed that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue that can be solved through one-to-one negotiations. The failure of the Agra Summit is simply the latest example of how unrealistic this assertion is. India and Pakistan have resolved nothing over the past 50 years. It is time for a realistic reassessment of the peace process in the sub-continent. Outside intervention is not only feasible, but necessary.
Imran Sharih, Pakistan

What the two countries need is a mutual friend and someone with enough power to help make a rational decision. The problem is, hardly anyone in the West knows or cares about this issue. It's sad when two poor South Asian counties have to raise an alarming red flag (nuclear tests) to get any attention around here.
S. Ahmed, USA

Mediation has proven successful in some cases, it may definitely help now as the masses want peace, but the politicians are not mature enough. I think Japan or Nelson Mandela are the best bets. Britain and the USA are controversial to many people in the subcontinent, but they can play their role behind closed doors. I think the Agra Summit was fruitful, but India will never let Kashmiris have self-determination, that is why it always tries to ignore the core issue and wants to talk about other problems first.
M. Farooq, USA

I seriously doubt that a third party would improve the scenario

Sandeep Kibey, India/ USA
I don't think the Agra Summit is a total failure. It would be presumptuous to assume that a single summit would have resolved the issue of Kashmir. Look at it this way - a democratic India and a military ruled Pakistan are trying to work things out. Their expectations are different and so are their priorities. But, given time, the two leaderships might converge to a mutually acceptable solution. I seriously doubt that a third party would improve the scenario. How do you expect a third nation to identify with the contrasting stands of India and Pakistan and further, convince them of a compromise?
Sandeep Kibey, India/ USA

All these problems started because India was divided by another country 50 years back. It would be utter stupidity, if they allow a third country to meddle in their affairs, again. If they need long lasting peace India and Pakistan should work it out among themselves.
Noufal, USA

India and Pakistan should understand their priorities. The economic situation in both India and Pakistan would drive every sensible citizen of both countries to sort out the differences and work together. Kashmir's future should be decided only by the Kashmiri people and not by the Indian or Pakistan governments. A referendum under the supervision of an international committee would be an ideal solution. Both parties should accept the outcome of this referendum without any egos.
Pandyan, USA

How much have third parties helped in resolving the Israel-Palestine issue? The Olso agreement is no longer recognised and both parties continue doing what they think is best. The short-term solution is to end all violence in Jammu and Kashmir, both by the armed forces and the Pakistan based militants. Solutions will follow after that.
Shailesh Kulkarni, India

Why not forget politics for a while and talk economics?

Dharmin, India/ USA
India and Pakistan can't resolve their disagreements bilaterally. On the other hand, there is no third party with sufficient amount of credibility to help them. So why not forget politics for a while and talk economics?
Dharmin, India/ USA

A good analogy would be Northern Ireland. There, an agreement was reached between the two governments and local political parties, but they also had outside help. US President Bill Clinton gave some helpful input in persuading the parties to come to an agreement, the Canadian General de Chastelain helped to oversee the disarmament process, and the talks themselves were chaired by US Senator George Mitchell. These outsiders were able to gain the confidence of the major parties, which the governments could not. Perhaps outsiders could do the same for Kashmir?
Andrew Turvey, England

All future summits will end up failing like this (Agra) one, as India and Pakistan will never budge from their stance. The problem is not the PM of India or the President of Pakistan, I think both these leaders are very honest to their countries. The problem is that they are surrounded by hawks just waiting for them to make one wrong move so they can criticise and take over. We need a third party otherwise the issue of Kashmir will remain open for the next hundred years.
Mohammad Alam, USA

I think the British government has a moral obligation to step in and mediate between the two neighbours

Shabbir Gilani, Canada
No doubt, the India-Pakistan summit was a bold initiative; their relations can never be normalised through bilateral talks only. Kashmir, the unfinished agenda of partition has reached a point where neither country is willing to give any concessions. I think the British government has a moral obligation to step in and mediate between the two neighbours. For this purpose, they could seek the assistance of the United States as well as the United Nations.
Shabbir Gilani, Canada

India is trying to suppress the democratic rights of the people of Kashmir. It was was also one of the few countries to oppose the rights of the people of East Timor for liberation. International mediation is a must so that the people of Kashmir can finally decide what to do with their future. If India refuses, it must be treated as a pariah nation.
Richard Taxila, USA

Since politicians of both countries are locked firmly in their age old positions, it would be beneficial if a neutral third party could facilitate unlocking of the knot.
Mysore Gopal, USA

With the holding of the Agra summit 50% of the work is done

Pervaiz Lodhie, USA
Regardless of the outcome, holding the Agra summit was in itself a major step forward taken by the bold leaders of Pakistan and India. The two sides now must continue communications which will eliminate many misunderstandings, help both sides realise the extreme economic urgency and timeliness for the two countries to improve the quality of life for their billion people. With the holding of the Agra summit 50% of the work is done.
Pervaiz Lodhie, USA

Third party mediation in the case of the Indo-Pak conflict is of no use. India and Pakistan are responsible countries and can solve their problems themselves. Also third party mediation has yielded no good resulta in the case of the Middle East peace talks.
Sandeep Gautam, India

Well to begin with the differences of 50 years can't be solved in three day summits. However, It's encouraging that instead of using a battlefield to make a point, the two countries are sitting at a table to debate their views. The current problems between Pakistan and India can be blamed on outside (the British) authorities of that time, so I am not very thrilled about outside meditation.
Rizwan, USA/ Pakistan

It's a misconception that the Agra summit has failed. I think it's been far more successful than should have been expected. The summit has broken the ice between Pakistan and India, and also India has accepted that General Musharaf is the person they have to deal with and deal with respectfully. As for third party intervention, I don't agree with having any outside party trying to participate in a regional problem. I don't see much in recent history when just due to the participation of a third party problems were solved. And this point is supported by the Middle East peace talks.
Ahmad Shahzad, USA

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate
See also:

19 Jul 01 | South Asia
Vajpayee backed over Agra summit
17 Jul 01 | South Asia
Q & A: What next after Agra?
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