It has become a cliche that the India – Pakistan conflict still continues; nevertheless, it is the best way to characterize the relations between the two countries.
A summit of Central Asian presidents opened in the capital of Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata today. The India – Pakistan conflict is to become the key topic for the discussion at the summit.
At that,there is practically no hope left that India and Pakistan will initiate peace talks. At least, India Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is still reluctant to meet with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that the Pakistani and Indian leaders should meet; it is not clear yet how Vladimir Putin is going to persuade them to start peace talks. Certainly, relations between Russia and India are extensive, but it is an exaggeration to say that Russia can exert great pressure on India’s policy concerning Pakistan, regardless of the fact that Russia is one of the key armament suppliers to India. The armament supplies are very profitable for Russia, and Russia’s interference with the India – Pakistan conflict may cause Delhi to start to search for less squeamish partners in the armament business. Such a search would not be a problem.
On the other hand, Moscow is already experienced in this kind of partnership. A 1966 Tashkent declaration that put an end to the India – Pakistan armament conflict of 1965 was signed with the participation of the Soviet Union. The declaration was supposed to be a starting point in settlement of the India – Pakistan conflict. However, it failed.
Despite the Pakistani president’s efforts to stop the war, nevertheless, the position of Delhi aiming for the “cessation of terror and support of Kashmir separatists, first of all, and then the recommencement of peace talks” is more popular throughout the world than Musharraf’s initiatives. The support rendered to militants of terrorist organizations by Pakistan is too open. Terrorist bases are located on Pakistan-controlled territory of Kashmire; therefore, it is of no use to pretend that Islamabad renders only moral support to Kashmir militants. The Pakistan leadership knows about it for sure.
On the other hand, the leader of Pakistan is unlikely to receive support for his peace initiatives from the army and Muslim radicals. They treat any concession to India, especially concerning the Kashmir problem, as a surrender. If Musharraf loses the support of the army, his fate cannot be predicted. Therefore, the situation looks like this: each new idea of Musharraf is more peaceful than the previous one; the leader calls upon presidents of other countries for mediation in the Delhi – Islamabad conflict. At the same time, it is not clear who is to perform the initiatives in Pakistan.
One thing is obvious, neither Delhi nor Islamabad will go beyond the limit after which a nuclear war may outbreak in South Asia. No doubt, the consequences will be lamentable if such a situation develops. At the same time, another question arises: why have the leading countries of the world, the UN, and other international organizations turned their attention to the conflict just recently. Why didn't they do this earlier? Is now too late now to try to reconcile India and Pakistan?
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Photo from BBC archives
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/06/03/42147.html