Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mukherjee's Visit to Pakistan

The Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee is visiting Pakistan for the first time this weekend. With all the lead-up to this visit (Musharraf's "We'll give up our claim to Kashmir" and Manmohan's "Breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore, dinner in Kabul" comments, to name just two seminal moments in the last month), I can't help but feel something substantive is on the cards. Even if they don't announce anything, I'm sure sufficient progress is going to be made on certain issues (joint mechanisms in Kashmir, Siachen, consulates in Mumbai/Karachi etc) for an announcement to be possible on the sidelines of the Saarc summit in April. The BBC is not so sure, however, saying "nothing spectacular" is expected and no agreements will be signed. On the other hand, the Daily Times carries a story saying the Asian Age is reporting that differences on certain issues have been "narrowed" and that "certain mechanisms appear to be taking shape." Who's right? Don't know, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

For whatever it's worth, Musharraf sees "light at the end of the tunnel" for India-Pakistan relations. The timing of such a statement is certainly interesting though I would be prudent and not read too much into what he says, given his proclivity for overly optimistic statements in the past.

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