The morning after in Agra was like the quiet after a rampaging storm, with New Delhi insisting it would not accept the ‘‘centrality’’ of the Kashmir dispute and Pakistani officials hoping to pick up the pieces of the damaged relationship and take it onwards to another summit in Islamabad.
Expressing disappointment over the inability to reach agreement on a declaration or even a text after lengthy negotiations over the past two days, External Affairs minister Jaswant Singh said that India could not be ‘‘dictated’’ to by the Pakistani impulse that ‘‘unless the issue of the Jammu & Kashmir is made central (to the relationship), there would be no progress on any other aspect.’’
However, he would not characterise the summit as a ‘‘failure’’.
Singh made a pointed reference to General Musharraf’s breakfast interview with editors yesterday morning, saying the government of India did not negotiate matters of high policy through the press.
Musharraf’s statements at that interview — dwelling on the primacy of the Kashmir issue over everything else — had considerably angered New Delhi for the ‘‘insensitive and overbearing’’ approach to rooting the Kargil conflict in the 1971 war and comparing the Kashmiri struggle to the movement in Palestine.
New Delhi’s evolving credo on Pakistan now looks something like this: ‘‘India is convinced that narrow, segmented or unifocal approaches will simply not work’’, a prepared MEA statement said, adding, ‘‘our focus has been to remain on the totality of relationship...even as we address and move forward on all outstanding issues, including Jammu & Kashmir, building upon the existing compacts of Shimla and Lahore.’’
Refusing to divulge the real reasons behind the failure of the summit, Singh nevertheless gave himself away on one occasion when he indirectly referred to India’s insistence that the phrase ‘‘cross-border terrorism’’ find its way into the text. ‘‘If there was understanding on that, the present situation would not have arisen’’, he said.