Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

KASHMIR PARLEYS SET TO BEGIN: NYT

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 18, 2009

Srinagar, June 17: Beneath the frosty surface and well beyond for-the-cameras pleasantries at Yekaterinburg yesterday, a slow but perceptible thaw between India and Pakistan is taking place and back channel negotiations on Kashmir are set for revival.Former senior diplomats close to the foreign policy establishment in the US say that back-channel negotiations on Kashmir are set to begin again, something the United States has quietly urged,” influential US daily, New York Times reported today.Such behind-the-scene talks came close to reaching a blueprint of an agreement on the decades-old dispute of Kashmir while Gen Pervez Musharraf was Pakistan’s president, but they were suspended last year as the General’s grip on power slipped away, the paper says.According to the report, the latest developments on the Indo-Pak front point to a resumption of some sort of talks sooner rather than later. “Such talks could help ease tensions and aid stability in the region.”Certain quarters in India are wary that new talks will make India look as though it is bending to American pressure. The American envoy to the region, Richard C Holbrooke, publicly took pains on his visits here to say that the Obama administration had not asked India to talk to Pakistan, let alone discuss Kashmir.However, William J Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, last week nudged India by resurrecting the Kashmir issue in his public remarks, saying that the wishes of the Kashmiri people should be taken into account in any settlement. This has long been United States policy, but any hint of interference by outside parties in what India sees as an internal affair tends to raise hackles here in India, the report said.The newspaper quoted Shamshad Ahmad, a former top Pakistani diplomat, as saying that the meeting “broke some ice,” adding that “this is only happening because of Washington’s pressure.”According to the report, despite India’s growing ties with the US, there is no agreement in India about the Obama administration’s engagement with Pakistan. Some fear that while the US is keen to defeat the Taliban on Pakistan’s western border, it may not be ready to do enough to deter anti-India attacks.

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