An analysis from the Times of India on how an agreement could be reached between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.
Former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri's interview to Karan Thapar has stirred up a lot of interest in his claims on the results achieved in the backchannel negotiations between New Delhi and Islamabad. Kasuri said that most of the negotiations on Kashmir were successfully completed during his tenure as foreign minister under Pervez Musharraf and draft agreements were ready to be signed. They were to have been signed during the visit of the Indian PM to Pakistan which did not take place, according to Kasuri, because of elections in India, the crisis in Pakistan following the ouster of the supreme court chief justice and subsequent polls and change of government.
There is another view that the Indian government backed off at the last moment. Some informed observers in India maintain that developments in Pakistan came in the way of the agreement being finalised. In this connection it is pertinent to recall the much-criticised comment of national security adviser M K Narayanan in an interview that India found it easier to do business with Musharraf. The latest article by Steve Coll in the New Yorker goes some way in confirming the Indian and not Kasuri's version.
In the last few days US special envoy Richard Holbrooke has been holding discussions with the Pakistani army chief and ISI chief along with senior Afghan officials in Washington on the proposed strategy for the Af-Pak region, especially in the light of the ceasefire agreement reached with the Taliban in the Swat valley. While India is staying out of this meeting, the idea appears to be to persuade the Pakistani army and ISI that the concerns of Pakistan about its eastern front, and often used as an alibi to justify the inadequate response against the al-Qaeda and Taliban, are totally misplaced. Kasuri's revelations and Coll's report should strengthen the hands of Washington.