Kashmir: Track II diplomacy gets a push from both sides of border
28 April 2002
The Indian Express
Chandigarh: A group of 20 Indians (including Kashmiris) and Pakistanis have got together in Chandigarh and to initiate a process in parallel diplomacy aimed at settling the Kashmir dispute. The three-day dialogue on ‘Comparative Approaches to Conflict Resolution’ is the first in a series of talks to be held at the Centre for Rural Research and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh. ‘‘At the end of the process, we hope a useful document will emerge. And we hope this document will be used by people in power to settle the dispute between the two countries,’’ says India’s former foreign secretary Salman Haider. The group would make recommendations over the course of their dialogues (another such meeting will take place in the city in October, says Haider) and compile their recommendations to forward to the governments of India and Pakistan as concrete suggestions to resolve the problem. Even though the exercise has clearances from the Government of India and is within the full knowledge of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), as he puts, Haider is wary of saying the dialogue is a part of Track II diplomacy or has the MEA’s backing. ‘‘Backing is too strong a word’’, he says, ‘‘at this juncture’’. MEA officials, he adds, too had been invited and though their response was very positive, they said they would not be able to make it. Haider adds that Track II is a very vast term. This effort is not an ambiguous exercise and most importantly, this time there are representatives from the Valley. There are people from public life, from Pakistan, J-K, Ladakh and there are academics, he says. CRRID Director Rashpal Malhotra goes a step further when he says Track II is the beaten track. Haider’s counterpart, former Pakistani foreign secretary, Najmuddin A. Shaikh is also taking part in the dialogue.