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Thursday, January 04, 2007

India-Pakistan kiss and make up in Cuba

Havana seems like a good meeting point for Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf. It was away from either India and Pakistan and may be the romance of Cuba worked its charm on the heads of the two countries - they got talking again about what really matters. Now the question is just what have they agreed to do and how much will the good rapport they share with one another, help them achieve their goals? So what was said in that one hour between the two?

Media Advisor to the prime minister, Sanjaya Baru told CNBC-TV18, "They have a working relationship and the Prime Minister has once described President Musharraf as a 'business-like person'. They were meeting after one year and they had a lot to discuss." He adds, "Compared to the chill in the air last year in New York, there was a different atmosphere and a willingness to listen to each other and work together."

But terrorism emanating from Pakistan has always been a problem for Pakistan and is also always a bone of contention, whenever the two sides talk to each other. This time, the joint statement issued in Havana says that a mechanism is going to be put in place, to deal with this problem. This initiative has been called the India Pakistan Anti-terrorism Institutional Mechanism. According to the statement made, this will "identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations." So, just what does this amount to?

Baru explains, "I think the Foreign Secretary designate, Mr Shivshankar Menon spoke at length when he addressed the media is Havana. He also said that this is an idea that has to be fleshed out further. The real point is that today, we have a platform where one can actually exchange information rather than talk through the media and make public pronouncements. We can take to Pakistan, the information we have with respect to terrorist incidents and seek the commitment for dealing with it. We are looking at credible ways in which we can exchange information and deal with the problem."

Then there is Kashmir - the other 'issue' that refuses to die down. In January of this year, President Musharraf had suggested joint management and self governance of J&K and this sent the Ministry of External Affairs into a tizzy. Now, will this option be considered once again? Baru says, "The phrase 'out-of-the-box thinking' was originally Dr Manmohan Singh's phrase. I don't think we should be giving General Musharraf the credit for coming with out-of-the-box solutions. I think it's the Prime Minister who is seeking out-of-the-box solutions."

"For 50 years, the two countries have not been able to find a way out of the impasse. What the Prime Minister is seeking a credible way out, which is acceptable to India and Pakistan and everyone else, then we need to find those ways."

So, there may be back channels at work here which have come up with some innovative ideas and that could be from where the two leaders takeoff, to find a more satisfactory and hopefully permamnent solution to atleast one of the two big problems - Kashmir.

About terrorism - well, it is not only India's problem anymore. Osama bin Laden has ensured that it has been democratically spread to countries, which never suffered the way India did before. So, now every country on the world map is involved in looking for a solution to terrorism.

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

1 comment:

Delta said...

Good for people to know.