India may seek formal proposals on Kashmir
9 January 2007
The Daily Times
New Delhi: India may ask Pakistan to officially present its proposals for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute for discussion, official sources said on Tuesday. The sources said that all Kashmiri leaders who met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the past week stressed that India should respond to Pakistani President Pervez Musharrafs proposals on joint management and demilitarisation of the Kashmir valley. They added that Mukherjee told them that the Indian government could not react since Pakistan had not officially communicated any such proposal. We told him (Mukherjee) to ask Pakistan to officially place proposals on the table, said a senior Kashmir leader who was part of the discussions. He added that the Kashmiri leaders got an impression that the Indian leadership was keen to make Musharrafs proposals part of official discussions. Given that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Mukherjee have consulted on foreign policy with a broad spectrum of political parties, from the right wing BJP to Left party leaders as well as a cross section of pro-India Kashmiri leaders, expectations here are high that Mukherjee will travel to Islamabad with something in his kitty. Observers believe that by placing Musharrafs proposals on the table, Pakistan would officially give up its traditional stance that the regions future should be decided by a plebiscite. Indias ace Kashmir expert, AG Noorani, believes that two realists, Singh and Musharraf, have now reached a position where they can craft a solution which reunites the people of Kashmir by reducing the Line of Control to a line on the map, gives them self-rule, and addresses the security and territorial concerns of both states. Noorani claims that the two sides are now far closer to an accord than is realised. It will be an accord fairly close to Sheikh Mohammed Abdullahs vision an autonomous Kashmir as a bridge, and not a battle ground, between India and Pakistan, he said. Meanwhile, the sources said that the demilitarisation of Siachen is back on the agenda and is being actively considered by the government as it pools together efforts to activate the Havana agreement between Singh and Musharraf.