have been written about General Musharraf''s visit to New Delhi and a wearyingly
familiar pattern has begun once again to emerge in the writings. While the
Indian media have greeted the joint declaration with a satisfaction that borders
on euphoria the Pakistani media have been cautious to the point of pessimism.
"The joint statement ... clearly points to one conclusion: The Pakistani
leadership has succumbed to the pressure to proceed with the normalisation
of relations with India and put the core dispute of Kashmir on the backburner,"
says an editorial in the conservative English daily The Nation. Even
liberal newspapers and columnists have expressed the fear that General Musharraf
may have given away too much and gained very little in return.
reactions, which are based solely upon an enumeration of the various confidence
building measures that Musharraf agreed to, miss the wood for the trees. The
fact is that the Delhi meetings have achieved a breakthrough in India''s relations
with Pakistan of almost unimaginable importance: Prime minister Manmohan Singh
has succeeded in winning President Musharraf''s trust. In doing so he has placed
an enormous burden of obligation upon himself and upon India: We must now
prove ourselves worthy of that trust and find ways of reciprocating it. The
misgivings being expressed in Pakistan and the satisfaction, bordering upon
complacency, being expressed in India arise from perceiving only the first
half of this pact.
has not bestowed his trust lightly. As Kargil and the Agra summit showed,
he is not a dove on India-Pakistan relations. But as President of Pakistan
he bore the brunt of 9/11 and was the first to realise that coping with it
required far reaching changes in policy. That is why he lost no time in grasping
Prime minister Vajpayee''s proffered hand of friendship in 2003.
then, however, Musharraf has appeared to be making most of the concessions.
This is a direct outcome of the stark opposition between the two countries''
starting positions. Pakistan has always held that Kashmir is the core dispute
and must be dealt with first. India has maintained that other issues should
be resolved first, in order to create an atmosphere conducive to the resolution
of the Kashmir dispute. In 1997 the two countries committed themselves to
a ''composite dialogue'' in which all issues would be dealt with simultaneously.
process was revived in 2003 but since Kashmir is by far the most complex and
sensitive of all the issues whatever little progress there has been has taken
place on other issues. Since the underlying difference of approach remained
and was reflected, among other things, in India offering a plethora of CBMs
but remaining silent on Kashmir, Pakistan continued to regard New Delhi''s
overtures with suspicion and dragged its feet over responding to its proposals.
India therefore reacted sharply and negatively to every statement on Kashmir
that emanated from Islamabad.