Kick-Starting India-Pakistan Negotiations Constraints and Opportunities; Strategic Insights: v.1, issue 10 (December 2002)
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The U.S. has been pressing both India and Pakistan to resume their head-of-government level negotiations for several months. While Pakistan has expressed interest in another summit, India has been steadfastly holding the position that negotiations will not begin until Pakistan completely stops the proxy war by way of sending armed infiltrators to conduct insurgency in Indian Kashmir. The failure of two past summits--Lahore in 1999 and Agra in 2000--to obtain meaningful and long-lasting accords have also made India reluctant to initiate another round of talks without prospects of a concrete agreement in sight. In many respects, Lahore was not a failure as it did produce an agreement between Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and his then Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. The agreement failed because the Pakistani military, under General Pervez Musharraf, undermined the possibility of its success by launching the Kargil War. The Agra summit failed not because of sentimental reasons or lack of warmth but because the timing was not ripe for a substantive agreement. The parties were holding totally incompatible goals, and they were meeting largely for domestic political reasons and to some extent, because of pressure from the United States. This document works to answer the question: Why do the near- and medium-term prospects of negotiating an end to this enduring rivalry increasingly look bleak? The answer lies in the structure of the conflict, the power asymmetry between the two parties, and the fundamental incompatibility in the goals they seek.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (December 2002), v.1 no.10
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