Nobody really believed that the prime minister of India and the president of Pakistan would have a personal meeting during the current Asian summit in the city of Alma-Ata (the capital of the republic of Kazakhstan). Pervez Musharraf has before that he is ready to meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee without any preliminary conditions. However, the Indian leader set forth his own conditions, claiming that Pakistan should stop supporting Muslim extremists, the so-called fighters for freedom. It just so happened that nobody was against the negotiations, but neither Delhi nor Islamabad were going to make a step forward.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced in Alma-Ata today that India was ready for negotiations with Pakistan. The prime minister said that it was India that initiated the solution of the Kashmir problem. Vajpayee also pointed out that Musharraf was “taking certain steps in the direction of a dialogue between India and Pakistan.”
However, the Indian premier did not say when the negotiations are going to take place and in what form, but at least we have India’s willingness, and this is a very optimistic fact. Apparently, Vajpayee’s decision can be explained with the information that Delhi obtained evidence of the fact that the government of Pakistan ordered Islamic extremists in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir to stop penetrating into India's territory. This information is the result of the analysis of the wireless communication, which was intercepted by the Indian intelligence. There is also information that says that the Pakistani military command ordered the 10th Army Corps to block the control line in order to prevent Muslim extremists from penetrating into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Furthermore, the Indian press wrote that American President George Bush assured Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee (before leaving for Alma-Ata) that Islamabad gave its obligation to the States to put an end to the terrorists’ penetration into India. If this information is true (it is obvious that it its true, since it appeared in all Indian mass media, which can hardly be suspected of their sympathy with Pakistan), then one may assume that there was nothing left for the Indian prime minister to do but to express his consent for negotiations with Pakistan. Otherwise, India would be totally guilty of the escalation of further contradiction with Pakistan. Therefore, Vajpayee’s statement is predictable.
One may suppose that India’s decision was very good for the Russian delegation as well. If Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic offers are in demand, than this is a very big achievement for Russian diplomacy. Furthermore, this would be considered President Putin’s personal success, who claimed this mission at the Russia-NATO summit on May 28-29. European countries do not have much influence on these two countries, and Washington is not likely to become a mediator in those negotiations. Russia could hope for success, since it has longstanding links with India. It is too early to say that the Russian president’s initiatives showed a decisive influence on Vajpayee’s agreement to start negotiations, but one thing has been proven: Russia preserved its influence on the world scene. Therefore, if India starts negotiations with Pakistan, Russia’s contribution will be indisputable. Nevertheless, it is premature to say that the tension between India and Pakistan is a matter of the past, Kashmir has been a problem for dozens of years, but the first step has already been made.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov