Lost Opportunities:Why Vajpayee-Musharraf’s Era Was Indeed a Golden Era

Ever since 1947 partition of British India, Kashmir has always dominated the regional and national psyche. The partition of British India which divided the subcontinent into two big ideologies, cultures and created two rival countries and vying for control over Kashmir has caused immense damage to the economy of Kashmir as well as resulted in loss of countless lives. The unresolved Kashmir issue has seen numerous situations and movements which could have played a great role in helping free Kashmiri nationalists from Indian colonialism. But it is quite unfortunate that we Kashmiris haven’t been able to take advantage of any of these opportunities and so we continue to be at the receiving end. 

History bears witness that on several occasions India and Pakistan had come very close to making an effective and peaceful negotiation on the Kashmir issue but every time something happened that disrupted peace and led to the breakdown of talks between the two nations. Thus, Kashmir lost several opportunities which would have healed the wounds and scars of Kashmiris forever. Unfortunately because of these lost opportunities, the conflict in the valley only got accelerated and resulted in unending miseries. 

Former foreign minister of Pakistan, Mr Khurshid Mohammad Kasuri revealed in his recently published book that the years 2002 to 2008, which are famously known as Musharraf’s era in Pakistan, showed a profound change in the attitudes of both India as well as Pakistan. Both countries had agreed to find a better and a fruitful way to resolve the Kashmir issue. Kasuri also revealed how the back channels during Vajpayee – Musharraf’s era played a significant role in motivating the governments of the two nations and other responsible bodies to work on General Parvez Musharraf’s ‘Four Point Formula Document’, which believed that the solution to  Kashmir issue peacefully could only be found through talks. Indeed this document was the ultimate document of peace and reconciliation. It would have put an end to the decades of humiliation, torture and suppression that Kashmiris have been subjected to. But, this opportunity too was lost because both leaders were criticised and taunted by the off stream parties of Kashmir. Some even gave statements like ‘Musharraf sold Kashmir’.

The second opportunity when the  Kashmiri nationalists were on the edge of achieving Azadi or at least a solution to the long standing Kashmir issue was during the uprisings of 2008, 2009 and 2010, in which some 128 innocent lives were lost and many more got injured. The internal Indian agencies themselves revealed that Indian government was facing extreme pressure and was on the verge of taking a decision but due to the lack of visionary leadership in Kashmir, this opportunity too slipped away from our hands.
Ever since the conflict on Kashmir started, Musharraf’s “Four Point Formula Document” was the first peace process formula in which both the countries showed some eagerness as it had all ingredients necessary for the betterment of two countries as well as the Sub Continent. The political turmoil in Kashmir has not only hampered the developmental and economic progress of the Sub Continent but of the two countries as well. Therefore, resolving the issue would have given rise to a new dawn. A dawn of progress and peace. 
Both countries are spending a major portion of their budget on defence which means other institutions get very little attention and as such they are getting demeaned and diminished. But, had the Musharraf’s formula worked, it would have changed the whole scenario of India and Pakistan. Unfortunately that did not happen and perhaps will never happen again because such a rare opportunity knocks on one’s door once not again and again.

Vajpayee – Musharraf Era, The Golden Era:

Vajpayee’s government on several occasions welcomed dialogue process with the Hurriyat leaders. His government was keen to hold talks with Pakistan in order to find a better solution to the Kashmir dispute but now the political discourses in both the countries has changed. The present Narendra Modi led government has not only shunned the separatists of Kashmir but also refused to hold any meaningful talks with Pakistan. During the Vajpayee – Musharraf era, multiple meetings and talks were held between the two countries, including the historic two day Agra summit which lasted from 14 July to 16 July, 2001. The Agra summit was specifically held to resolve the bilateral issues between the two countries but unfortunately the negotiations broke down mid-way. 

According to Mr A. S Dulat, former Chief of Research and Analysis wing, L. K Advani was both the architect of the Agra summit and its destroyer. 

The Agra Summit of 2001 was followed by the Islamabad Declaration during the 12th SAARC conference in 2004 in which the Prime Minister of India, Mr Vajpayee said, ”Both our nations (India and Pakistan ) must sustain peace over the borders and must work peacefully to prevent violence, and any kind of terrorism.” Both the leaders had deeply emphasised to work for the process of peace building across their borders and vowed to find a peaceful solution to all the bilateral issues between the two countries, including the prolonged Jammu and Kashmir dispute. At the end of the meeting, both the leaders had agreed and promised to promote progress, development and strive to achieve the common goals of peace, prosperity, economic sustainability, cultural and heritage development and to work collectively against any kind of terrorism.

Thus, we can very clearly see that not only have we had several negotiations, high official meetings, unsigned pacts and agreements between Indian and Pakistan to solve the bilateral issues but the four point formula like document on which both the countries agreed was an opportunity which will perhaps never be found again. I think waiting or dreaming for any other such panacea is futile and useless because leaders like General Musharraf and Atal Bihari Vajpayee come once in a lifetime as does an opportunity like the Agra summit. 



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