The Problem of Kashmir and the Problem in Kashmir: Divergence Demands Convergence

Dr. Ashutosh Mishra was Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • January 2005

    India and Pakistan have fought four wars over Kashmir and have held several rounds of talks to resolve the 57-year-old issue, but without any tangible success. The only progress thus far has been that India has agreed to discuss the issue as part of the composite dialogue process and Pakistan has shown willingness to explore options other than the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Although both India and Pakistan appear trying to breakaway from the past and think afresh on Kashmir, yet both fail to bring about any significant policy shifts. For Pakistan, it still is the ‘problem of Kashmir’, i.e., Kashmir a ‘disputed territory’ and an ‘unfinished agenda’ of Partition; for India, it is the ‘problem in Kashmir’, suggesting that the accession of Kashmir to India is final and complete, and the challenge now remains of addressing crossborder terrorism, and development and grievances of the people of Kashmir. Two such divergent definitions leave no scope for a solution, unless India and Pakistan endeavour to merge the two definitions at a mutually agreed point. The paper looks into the policies of India and Pakistan and fathoms the prospects of a rapprochement on Kashmir. The bus service is a significant step towards merging the diverse positions, but more is required of the two enduring rivals.

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