The shock, surprise and in some quarters the jubilation generated by the US president Donald Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir during his Monday’s interaction with the press alongside Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is still playing out in South Asia. New Delhi has been seething over what it sees as the misrepresentation by Trump of his conversation with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Osaka. And Pakistan sees Trump’s loud mention of Kashmir as its diplomatic triumph.
In Kashmir, people are hoping that the development leads to an engagement between India and Pakistan and helps in some way pulling the state out of its ongoing turmoil. The desperation for some kind of the resolution of Kashmir hasn’t been greater in the state. But a lot depends on how things evolve from here. Will the US play some behind the scenes role to get India and Pakistan talking again? Or will India and Pakistan take steps on their own towards a dialogue? The answers to these questions will be known in the coming weeks and months. But considering the fact that both the states have strong governments which are at the beginning of their respective terms, this is the ideal time for them to talk. But not to talk from the scratch but pick the thread of the previous promising dialogues on Kashmir which had almost pulled off a solution. We have the peace processes initiated by the former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh with the then Pakistan president Parvez Musharraf. During the time, the settlement option for Kashmir that was under discussion was the Musharraf’s four point formula. The formula set out a four step incremental process for Kashmir resolution. The steps were: identification of the regions in Kashmir for the settlement, demilitarization, self governance and a joint management or a consultative mechanism between India and Pakistan on the state. The proposals envisaged a Kashmir solution without any territorial re-adjustment of the state and as such were a drastic climbdown from Islamabad’s traditional stand on the state.
The process even now serves as a reminder that if both nations pursue the talks with sincerity and a sense of purpose, there is every hope that the issues as intractable as Kashmir could be resolved to the satisfaction of all its parties. The governments in New Delhi and Islamabad need to build upon the legacy of dialogue and reconciliation of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Musharraf to create a framework for Kashmir solution.We need such a process again but this time to be taken to its logical conclusion. Pakistan PM seems willing to tread the path but New Delhi seems disinclined to respond as of now. Here’s hoping that the Modi 2.0 does engage in dialogue with Islamabad and work for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of their issues, including that of Kashmir.