India Softens Kashmir Stance
1 March 2006
Islamabad: As US President George W. Bush arrived Wednesday in New Delhi, on the first leg of his four-day official visit to South Asia, India has softened its stance on Kashmir by indicating its willingness to formally discuss the Kashmiris' self-governance plan with Pakistan. India was earlier reluctant to discuss the 'self-rule and demilitarization' in Kashmir proposal floated by President Musharraf formally with Pakistan but the ongoing secret diplomacy between the two states and the quiet US mediation has made this breakthrough possible, said an official on the condition of anonymity. It was after these positive indications by India on Kashmir that President Bush started talking openly about the US role in the durable settlement to the core issue of Kashmir, he added. Similarly, President Musharraf also sought the intervention of his US counterpart to help resolve the Kashmir dispute in a durable manner. The plan on Kashmiris' self-governance has been drafted by Pakistan and it was being studied by the Indian authorities, the official said. 'President Bush would discuss this plan with the leadership of two countries during his visit while urging them to commence formal dialogue on the vital issue so as to reach a mutually acceptable solution to Kashmir issue,' he added. He said that the plan could be slightly altered in the light of the summit level discussions between Pakistan, India and the United States during the President Bush visit and the U.S leader was likely to announce a breakthrough vis-à-vis the readiness of two nations to initiate formal talks on self-governance plan. Another official when contacted confirmed that indications have been received from New Delhi showing India's readiness for formal talks on self-rule plan. He said that Pakistan was expecting a breakthrough on the vital issue and all eyes were now fixed at the talks to be held between President Bush and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.