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US road map focuses on speeding up dialogue

By Josy Joseph
May 16, 2003 15:16 IST
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Despite its denials, Washington does seem to have a very specific roadmap for facilitating peace in the Indian subcontinent.

In the second part of an exclusive series based on official mission papers prepared by the American embassy in Islamabad, we look at Washington's time-specific agenda for securing peace on the subcontinent.

If things go according to the American plan, India and Pakistan should resume a formal dialogue this year even as the two sides further reduce their forces on the border.

The last formal dialogue between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee collapsed in Agra in July 2001. India is therefore averse to a high-profile summit as demanded by Pakistan until the groundwork is done.

The American papers propose two basic measures to speed up the process of dialogue: one, to stress the 'futility and unacceptability of major military conflict as a means to redress bilateral disputes'; two, to promote 'tension management mechanisms' and confidence-building measures.

This year, Washington also hopes to broaden the 'frequency and scope' of military-to-military contacts between India and Pakistan, which are limited at the moment to a hotline conversation between the directors general of military operations of the two countries every Tuesday and contacts along the border in case of exigencies like handing over of corpses.

In 2004, India and Pakistan should be nudged to develop 'diplomatic and political alternatives to military pressure' to address 'bilateral disputes', and negotiate new confidence-building measures, or CBMs.

Finally, in 2005, when these CBMs are implemented, the US hopes to see 'diplomatic and political solutions used successfully to address bilateral issues'. This is when a framework for the 'eventual political resolution of Kashmir' will be laid out.

'Indo-Pakistani stability is critical for Pakistan to move forward in key areas. Bilateral conflict has harmed both India and Pakistan, economically, socially and politically, for years; the current standoff has drained GOP [Government of Pakistan] of funds that are urgently needed in the social and economic sectors,' say the embassy's papers.

According to the papers, Indo-Pak détente is essential to 'regional stability; until the two nuclear countries commit to political and diplomatic solutions, the threat of nuclear war, intentional or triggered by an accident, casts a shadow over all of South Asia'.

At present, 'the two countries are locked in a dangerous diplomatic and military stalemate that could lead to open conflict. We will continue to make aggressive diplomatic efforts to defuse these tensions and set the two countries on a path toward cooperation rather than confrontation.

'This is an enormous task, with tremendous benefits if we succeed, and potentially disastrous consequences if we do not. High-level US diplomatic engagement with both countries must be sustained.'

The US mission believes the 'restoration of democratic rule and further progress in curbing Pakistani support for extremist activities' would lead to 'fundamentally better Pakistani relations with India'. And for that, the mission has a detailed map as well.

Part I: The Plans for J&K
Part III: The Future of Pakistan's democracy

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Josy Joseph