`No breakthrough on Kashmir without strong govts in India, Pakistan

No breakthrough on Kashmir is possible without the presence of strong governments in India and Pakistan, according to a former US diplomat.

Washington: No breakthrough on Kashmir is possible without the presence of strong governments in India and Pakistan, according to a former US diplomat.

"The key thing if you want a breakthrough on Kashmir is that you have to have strong governments in both India and Pakistan that are in a position to take a deal public," said
Teresita Schaffer, a former US diplomat and director, South Asia Program, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank.

"That is the principal ingredient that was missing during the otherwise quite successful back-channel talks during the latter part of Musharraf`s time in power, which
narrowed the gap but did not eliminate it," she said.

"Since then, of course, the situation has gotten much more complicated...," she said.

Schafer noted India has had periods of talks with Kashmiri separatists and periods of talks with Pakistan, and they`ve never happened at the same time.

"That`s what`s going on now. In so far as the summer of trouble in Kashmir has galvanised Indian decision makers, it has been towards reopening channels to the separatists. That is, frankly, not going terribly well. But there`s no
inclination to bring these two processes together," Schaffer said.

Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage said that during the time of the president Pervez Musharraf, there was some progress on the Kashmir issue.

"It was very close. It was a close thing, and the reason why I think US was not seen publicly as pushing one way or the other, but talking and without prejudging the outcome with both sides of the equation -- I know, because I was doing it," he said.

"I think that`s the best way to encourage movement. It`s possible, and I think president Musharraf showed that it was possible. But I think a public pressure on Kashmir, in my
view, would have negative repercussions," Armitage said.

PTI

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