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Indo-Pak: Still committed, still unresolved

September 15, 2005 17:53 IST
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf had met on the sidelines of the UN summit  last year, the first meeting between the two leaders.

Much water has flown down the Indus since then. Despite all the hiccups, the peace process has held and, at times, shown progress.

If we compare the 203-word joint statement issued last year with the 177 word one issued this year, there are some obvious repetitions and some glaring differences. Both, however, reiterate the commitment to continue the peace process.

Complete coverage: the peace process

Both refer to Kashmir in identical language, expressing 'their commitment to ensure a peaceful settlement of all pending issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, to the satisfaction of both sides. They agreed that possible options for a peacefully negotiated settlement should continue to be pursued in a sincere spirit and a purposeful manner.'

But last year, 'The possibility of a gas pipeline via Pakistan to India was also discussed. It was felt that such a project could contribute to the welfare and prosperity of the people of both countries and should be considered in the larger context of expanding trade and economic relations between India and Pakistan.'

This year, due to American protests over dealing with Iran, the third 'axis of evil', there is no reference to it at all.

More importantly, this year, 'the two leaders referred to their earlier statements of January 6, 2004 and April 18, 2005 and reiterated their pledge not to allow terrorism to impede the peace process.'

There was no reference to this in last year's joint statement issued in New York, which just 'reiterated their commitment to continue the bilateral dialogue to restore normalcy and cooperation between India and Pakistan.'

Neither was it mentioned in the joint statement issued after the historic Vajpayee-Musharraf summit in Islamabad on January 6, 2004, where Musharraf pledged that he would not let terrorists operate out of Pakistan soil.

In fact, the first reference to this was probably in the joint statement issued after Musharraf's visit to Delhi in April for the one-day cricket match between the two nations.

Cricket and Kashmir

After their meeting at the United Nations this year, 'They also welcomed the progress made within the framework of the Composite Dialogue, including promotion of trade and economic relations, people to people contacts and confidence building measures. They also welcomed the recent release of prisoners on both sides and agreed to continue this process on a humanitarian basis.'

However, despite the general optimism expressed in both the statements, which are obviously aimed at the international audience, the essential fissures - over terrorism and Kashmir - still remain unresolved.

Prime Minister at the UN

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