Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Singh-Musharraf summit could speed up South Asian peace process
Agence France Presse by way of Channel NewsAsia ^ | 22SEP04 | Agence France Presse

Posted on 09/21/2004 10:50:59 PM PDT by familyop

US President George W. Bush (right) with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York
Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 22 September 2004 1307 hrs

Singh-Musharraf summit could speed up South Asian peace process

NEW DELHI : The first summit between India's new prime minister and Pakistan's president could give an impetus to the nations' slow-moving peace process but a solution on Kashmir remains distant, analysts say.

Manmohan Singh, who became prime minister in May after his left-leaning coalition's shock election victory, is to meet President Pervez Musharraf Friday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.


"They might develop a good chemistry which could facilitate future negotiations. This can be a lubricant in the peace process," former Pakistani foreign secretary Najmuddin Sheikh told AFP in Islamabad.

But even basic discussions could hit the familiar roadblock of Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between the nuclear-armed neighbours and at the heart of two of their three wars since independence from Britain.

Sheikh said a "breakthrough is unlikely" due to India's frequently stated position that the peace process with Pakistan will be gradual.

Islamabad has already complained that it finds the dialogue, started in April 2003, "sluggish".

"We need to accelerate it," Pakistani foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said this week.

India has also denied any plans to offer territorial concessions after Time magazine said it was ready to propose shifting the military frontier in Kashmir.

"You should always keep expectations very low in an India-Pakistan meeting because the complications are too many, emotions charged and anyone seen to be be giving an inch will face political flak at home," said Indian political analyst Amberish Kathewad Diwanji.

"The only difference this time is that because of US pressure, both countries are willing to make each other goodwill gestures and you can expect incremental changes."

The United States spearheaded international diplomacy that prevented a fresh war in 2002 after an attack on the Indian parliament which New Delhi said was carried out by Islamists backed by Pakistan.

Singh and Musharraf were meeting separately with US President George W. Bush before their summit.

"I am sure President Musharraf, who is supporting the US on its war against terrorism, will ask President Bush to influence India for a breakthrough on Kashmir," Pakistani diplomat Kamal Matinuddin said.

But India officially refuses any outside mediation over Kashmir, which like Pakistan it claims in full.

The peace process was initiated in April 2003 by a symbolic "hand of friendship" by India's then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in a speech that startled even his close aides.

Musharraf had built a cordial working relationship with Vajpayee in the belief, analysts say, that the Hindu nationalist premier would be able to bring on board India's hawks.

Singh's Congress party is seen as less likely to make territorial concessions for fear of a backlash from the Hindu right which is now in opposition.

The Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers met in early September in accordance with a schedule laid out by Vajpayee's government, but no major initiatives were announced.

The leaders' differences in style will be marked. Singh, an Oxford-educated economist, is like Vajpayee a septuagenarian known for his mild manner in public. Musharraf, known for his media savvy, is a general who seized power in a bloodless coup five years ago.

Veer Sanghvi, editorial director of the Indian newspaper the Hindustan Times, said Friday's meeting would be a "study in contrasts": "the flamboyant general from Pakistan and the reticent but brilliant economist from India."

But one potential point of bonding is their place of birth. A sign of the enduring scars of the subcontinent's partition along religious lines in 1947 is that Musharraf was born in New Delhi and Singh in what is now Pakistan.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: allies; bush; india; intel; manmohan; minister; musharraf; pakistan; pervez; president; prime; singh; southasia

1 posted on 09/21/2004 10:50:59 PM PDT by familyop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson