Understanding the Kashmir Peace Talks

Can India and Pakistan ease tensions?

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Kashmir, the disputed and heavily-militarized border zone between India and Pakistan, has been a source of violent conflict for decades. The conflict has involved conventional battles, allegations of state-sponsored terrorism, and the development of nuclear weapons in both states. The whole world is watching today as leaders from India and Pakistan meet in the latter's capital city to discuss peace in Kashmir. The U.S. is also pushing to deescalate the Kashmir conflict, which it sees as fueling the militant violence in Pakistan that is also troubling Afghanistan. Here's what's at stake in Thursday's talks.

  • India Emphasizes Terrorism The Wall Street Journal's Amol Sharma and Tom Wright write, "India says terrorism is the core issue of the talks. ... Despite the moves to ease tensions, the new spat that played out ahead of the meeting could complicate the nascent rapprochement between the neighbors. India is now accusing elements of the Pakistani government of planning and executing the Mumbai attack. India had previously blamed Pakistan-based militants for carrying out the attack, but hadn't publicly accused Pakistan's government of direct involvement."
  • Pakistan Emphasizes Long-Term Stability, Development, Trust Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports, "President Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday that the destinies of the people of both Pakistan and India and the development of the entire region lies in friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations between the two countries. ... The president said that the resumption of composite dialogue would help remove mistrust and restore confidence in relations between the two countries and would also help resolve all outstanding issues, including occupied Jammu and Kashmir."
  • How Kashmir Peace Talks Are Like Soccer Indian journalist Nitin Pai compares the failure of India and Pakistan at such peace talks to the behavior of soccer players. A recent study showed, "the optimal strategy for the goalkeeper was to stay put (and not dive in either direction). For the kicker, the optimal strategy was to target the upper third of the goal. Yet, in the matches they analysed, goalkeepers almost always dived and kickers did not consistently aim at the upper-third. ... Like the goalkeeper, the Indian government is better off staying still--focusing on liberalising the economy, accumulating power and engaging in robust counter-terrorism. Yet, New Delhi dives spectacularly into summits. ... Like the kicker, the Pakistani government is better off aiming at the upper-third--deradicalising its own society, dismantling the military-jihadi complex and otherwise stop burning down its own house. Yet, Islamabad kicks the ball into the India's hands--finding reasons to blame India."
  • How the World Misunderstands Kashmir Problem Former CIA station chief in Pakistan Robert Grenier recounts, "There was a long history behind the Kashmir dispute ... and it would be a big mistake to focus myopically on the terrorism without trying to solve the dispute itself. Nonetheless, that is precisely what the US has done since 9/11: Focusing on the illegitimate means of redress - the terrorism - without considering either the grievances which produce it or promoting more legitimate means of redressing those grievances." He says the U.S., India, and Pakistan all focus on terrorism, but that's "an overwhelming distraction from the matter at hand." That matter is the humanitarian and political plight of the Kashmiris themselves.
  • What Do Kashmiris Want? British university professor Robert Bradnock ran a study to find out. He tells Voice of America, "The overwhelming majority of Kashmiris on both sides of the border say unemployment is the most important issue, along with a whole range of other economic issues. But having said that, nearly all Kashmiris do say that solving this crisis problem is very important to them personally."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.