A Bettering The Rival Game?
In what is perceived to be a deftly calibrated peace process, New Delhi and Islamabad seem to be making the right noises and taking correct decisions in a gameplan they are suspected to have already agreed upon. But no one is talking, not Gen Pervez Musharraf, nor the government spokesman. A senior foreign official, though, points out that Islamabad is optimistic of a thaw in Indo-Pak ties, and that the two countries will adopt the policy of give and take over Kashmir.
For the moment, though, Gen Musharraf seems busy raising everyone's hackles due to his silence over the fast-changing situation in Kashmir. In his last week's speech to the nation, he didn't even mention the government's decision to withdraw troops from the LoC. Asks Pakistan Muslim League (pml) leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, "Why is he so quiet on Kashmir? Why are the people not being told what is happening? Who are the players?" Perhaps, as many others point out, the piecemeal disclosure is dictated by the government's fears that the hardliners might prematurely scupper the gameplan.
Despite that, the mood in government circles is quite upbeat. In a recent meeting with a clutch of editors, Musharraf said: "Ultimately, India will talk to Pakistan. India is not sincere (about the peace process) as it is not talking of the settlement of the Kashmir issue, rather it wants to end tension there. Pakistan's offer of tripartite talks to India had a very good impact at the international level. It has been described by the world as a bold step and now all the pressure is on India. It was the Kargil episode which brought Kashmir into focus. Kashmir emerged as a nuclear flashpoint following Kargil as the entire world began talking about it." The general, it seems, is already preparing to take the credit for 'peace' in Kashmir.
Pakistan is also looking forward to the visit of the Hurriyat team. It will be the first time that a clutch of very high-profile Kashmiris will get a chance to meet their counterparts here. "It is certainly a welcome move. They might be coming for consultative reasons, but it should lead to more coordinated efforts between the Hurriyat and the mujahideen here," says Dr Shireen Mazari, director-general of the Institute of Strategic Studies.
The ball does appear to have been set rolling, and most analysts are hoping that the chain of events leads to a positive conclusion. Says political commentator
H.N. Akhtar, "One thing is clear, neither India nor Pakistan can attain their natural destiny or potential in the comity of nations while carrying the heavy burden of needless animus or trying to finish each other through force of arms. An immediate and continuing trialogue without any mental reservations is a must. The sooner we chuck the legacy of obsession and madness, the better for us and our coming generations." True words indeed!
Mariana Baabar in Islamabad