Blame it to the ‘attitude’ of Pervez Musharraf in New York, the latest bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan in Islamabad which promised a lot ended up giving only little.
But to the India’s credit, Minister for External Affairs Natwar Singh has been able to put the composite dialogue process back on rail and send out a clear message that India remains committed to enlarging the scope of its engagement with Pakistan.
Given the holistic approach been applied by Mr. Natwar Singh and Mr. Kasuri, Islamabad talk can give some impetus to the Indo-Pak relations. Formation of India-Pakistan Joint Commission is one such step that can go a long way in improving the situation between two countries. The commission will deal with issues related to cooperation in trade, agriculture, health, science and technology. Theoretically, it has been revived after a gap of 16 years and both sides have agreed to do some homework on demilitarization of Siachen before the third round of composite dialogue begins.
This indeed is good news. Because it is for the first time in the history of these two countries some serious and purposeful discussion has taken place on the ways and means of demilitarizing Siachen. It is one thing to make a flying visit to the glacier and announce the Government's pious intention of converting Siachen into a "peace mountain" - as the Prime Minister did - but it is quite different when it comes to pulling out of the area.
The main obstacle in the path is verification of positions before the troops begin to pull out; the Pakistanis are reluctant to officially acknowledge Indian positions and are insisting on unilateral demilitarization. Hopefully, between now and the third round of composite dialogue, the conflict between the Indian and Pakistani positions will be resolved by working out the details of the six-point agenda of disengagement that has been prepared.
But the Government would do well not to get carried away by the rhetoric of peaceniks that believe they have a cast iron solution to each and every problem. And that solution invariably comes packaged as a 'confidence building measure' - more trains, more buses and now more trucks. If candlelight vigils at Wagah border and Government subsidized international travel could solve existing areas of disharmony between India and Pakistan, then there would have been no cause for concern. Reality, however, is far removed from the foggy notions of conflict resolution that are spun out at conferences and seminars by busybodies who are eminently disqualified to come anywhere near policy formulation.