The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
Summer target for autonomy

New Delhi, Oct. 14: The autonomy and devolution dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir should be concluded with the new government in Srinagar before May-June next year, according to sources in the government.

“This is the time when infiltration from across the border begins,” they said. The suggestion was that if the autonomy issue is settled by that time to the satisfaction of the local people, the support for the infiltrators from across the border would wane in the state. These sources also believe that “it would become difficult for the political parties to discuss the autonomy issue as the general election comes nearer”.

However, it was not clear what the basis of the autonomy or devolution discussion would be or who New Delhi’s interlocutor would be. “Arun Jaitley had been asked for by name by Farooq Abdullah. Let us see what the new government wants,” government sources said.

India has told the US that there was no question of starting a dialogue with Pakistan unless its sponsorship of violence in Jammu and Kashmir came to an end. This was conveyed to US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice by her Indian counterpart Brajesh Mishra over telephone from Copenhagen when the Prime Minister was there on an official visit.

Immediately after the Jammu and Kashmir election results were announced, Rice had called Mishra suggesting resumption of the dialogue. However, according to sources, Mishra told her that the US was well aware of the level of violence before and during the elections. “Under these circumstances, how do you expect us to talk'” he is believed to have asked Rice.

These sources claimed that India was not under any pressure on this issue — on the contrary, the world was slowly coming round to the Indian point of view that the atmosphere needed to be conducive for a dialogue. “You cannot say that our point of view is not being accepted by the international community. The Danish Prime Minister also made it apparent at the end of the meeting with Atal Bihari Vajpayee (that cross-border terrorism must end to create a positive atmosphere for a dialogue). Tony Blair has also accepted the argument,” the sources said.

India’s belligerence in describing the elections in Pakistan as “flawed” and claiming that their results were pre-determined also seems to be calculated. Among other things, it seeks to draw the attention of the world to the success of the fundamentalist extremist parties in two provinces bordering Afghanistan.

Now it has been revealed that Delhi was aware three to four months ago that Pervez Musharraf had sought accommodation with the Islamic fundamentalist parties. Mishra is believed to have briefed the US and UK on the need to keep a watch on these developments, the sources said.

Musharraf, according to these sources, sought to compromise with the fundamentalist parties because he found himself getting isolated from the opinion-making classes of Pakistan. Even the normally partisan Urdu press had become highly critical of him. “It was in this context that he sought accommodation with the fundamentalist parties,” they said.

Email This PagePrint This Page