The moderates have been back-pedalling since. Witness Abdul Ghani Lone's statement earlier this week that the jehadis had come as friends of the people and that it was New Delhi, not Islamabad, that was straining every nerve to prevent a resolution of the Kashmir problem. But it is time to ask whether these leaders haven't allowed their bitterness to overwhelm good sense. That is the only explanation of their reaction to K.C. Pant's second letter to Shabir Shah.
Pant's response to Shah was all any Kashmiri leader could have asked for. Shah had asked whether the government would engage Pakistan in a 'trilateral' search for peace, and if it would commit itself to talking to Pakistan at a later stage. Pant gave that assurance but pointed out that for fruitful talks, Pakistan too had to want to find peace through dialogue and negotiations. But the wording of Pant's reference to Pakistan showed that India had once again greatly softened its preconditions for a dialogue with Pakistan. In the April 5 statement, the Centre had made talks with Pakistan conditional on its 'curbing cross-border terrorism and putting an end to the…anti-India propaganda emanating from Pakistan'. In his second letter to Shah, Pant simply asked Pakistan to 'cooperate with India and initiate measures that would facilitate the process'. In effect, all India wants is some concrete steps on the ground that will show that Pakistan too wants peace through dialogue.