Archive for the ‘ Kashmir ’ Category

Pakistanis, Indians want peace, friendship, says poll

As Reported by SANA (South Asian News Agency)

Despite a history of conflicts, mistrust and estranged relationship, an overwhelming number of Pakistanis and Indians want peace and friendship between the nuclear-armed South Asian nations, a survey conducted on both sides of the border has revealed.

The survey – conducted by independent research agencies and sponsored by the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India on the first anniversary of their joint peace initiative ‘Aman Ki Asha’ – showed that 70 per cent of Pakistanis and 74 per cent of Indians want peaceful relations.

Although, the process of composite dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi remains stalled since the 2008 Mumbai carnage, 72 per cent Pakistanis and 66 per cent Indians hope to see ’sustainable friendly relations’ in their lifetime. Compared with last year, the number of Indians hoping to see peace in their lifetime has surged by 17 per cent.

The optimism at the people’s level appears in a stark contrast to the current bitter official positions. The Indian government accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and not doing enough against the alleged sponsors of the Mumbai attack, while Islamabad says that New Delhi has been using this incident as a ‘propaganda’ tool to avoid talks on the core issue of Kashmir. Islamabad also blames India for instigating violence in Balochistan.

According to the survey, awareness of the Kashmir problem as being central to the state of relations between the two countries, particularly in India, has increased. The survey results show that 77 per cent Pakistanis and 87 per cent of Indians feel that peace can be achieved by settling the protracted Kashmir dispute.

The scientific survey covered 10 Pakistani cities and 42 villages, covering a cross-section of people from rural and urban areas. Pakistani cities where the survey was carried out were: Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad, Hyderabad and Sukkur. In India, the survey was conducted in six cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad (Deccan) and Chennai. Adult population, both male and female, were represented in the survey.

This was the second survey on Pakistan-India relations. The first survey was conducted in December 2009; just before the Aman Ki Asha peace campaign was launched. Survey results show a consistent and marked improvement in perceptions about each other by people in both countries.

The survey showed that the issue of Pakistan-India relations featured in the thoughts of 73 per cent Pakistanis and 68 per cent Indians. The survey results said apart from settling the Kashmir dispute, 80 per cent Pakistanis and 91 per cent Indians think ’stronger relations and better defence’ would also contribute in achieving the goal of peace.

The survey tracked the impact of the Aman Ki Asha campaign in India by asking a similar set of questions to two groups of people – one aware of this peace campaign and the other not aware of it. On all four questions asked – perceiving Pakistan as a high threat to India, as a sponsor of terror, desire for peace and being hopeful for achieving sustainable peace – there was a marked difference in the responses of the two groups. The group that was aware of the Aman Ki Asha initiative had a much better perception of Pakistan.

Around 77 per cent of Pakistanis and 87 per cent Indians consider that international pressure may help in bringing peace, while 71 per cent Pakistanis and 72 per cent Indians pin hopes on greater people-to-people contact to pave the way for friendly relations. Eighty-one per cent Pakistanis and Indians see people-to-people contact as an effective ‘instrument of peace’.

An increase in business has also been tipped as a vehicle of peace by 67 per cent Pakistanis and 69 per cent Indians, the survey said. Among other steps needed to promote peace, 32 per cent Pakistanis pinned hopes on sports, 28 per cent on business, 22 per cent on tourism, 20 per cent on travel for health treatment and 13 per cent each on culture and higher education. The data from the Indian side regarding this questionnaire was not available.

For 51 per cent of Pakistanis, business can help bring peace, while 46 and 45 per cent of respondents said that it can also be done through sports and tourism respectively.

AMAN KI ASHA: The first of its kind peace drive ‘Aman Ki Asha’ was seen by a vast majority as articulating the aspirations of the people. Around 87 per cent Pakistanis and 74 per cent Indians were of the view that this sustained campaign ‘developed tremendous awareness about the Indo-Pak relationship’. Around 85 per cent Pakistanis and 61 per cent Indians said Aman Ki Asha communicated ‘peoples’ desire for peace to their governments, while 80 per cent Pakistanis and 86 per cent Indians said it ‘helped bring the people of the two countries together’.

The Jang Group and The Times of India have held a series of events over the last 12 months that involved a broad section of people, including students, intellectuals, artists, businessmen, doctors, information technology experts and ordinary citizens in an attempt to boost people-to-people ties.

In Pakistan, the recall of the ‘Aman Ki Asha’ campaign has been around an impressive 92 per cent. Shahrukh Hasan, Group Managing Director of the Jang Group, said this media-led civil society movement had made a huge contribution for peace at a time when tensions remained high between the two countries.

“The survey results should lay to rest any misgivings or apprehensions people may have had about the objectives or chances of success of the campaign,” he said. “The survey results show that Aman Ki Asha has brought about a sea change in perceptions in India about Pakistan. Every negative perception has decreased and every positive perception has improved. The Jang Group feels vindicated and is delighted that we have helped put across Pakistan’s point of view through honest dialogue, seminars, people-to-people contacts and cultural events.”

According to the survey, the terror perception in India about Pakistan is down to 42 per cent from 75 a year ago, of bomb threats to 29 per cent from 54 and awareness about the Kashmir dispute rising to 17 per cent from a mere four per cent. Hasan hoped that the Pakistani and Indian governments would continue to facilitate the Aman Ki Asha peace campaign and take advantage of the access to the hearts and minds of the people of the two countries that the Jang Group and the Times of India provided.

China Ramps Up Pressure Over Kashmir

By Sudha Ramachandran The Asia Times

BANGALORE – A recent report in the Chinese media describing the Sino-Indian border as being 2,000 kilometers long, roughly 1,500 km shorter than that defined by India, has evoked an alarmed response among sections of the Indian strategic community.

The “missing 1,500 km” from the definition of the Sino-Indian border is seen to be a clear pointer to Beijing’s hardening position, not only on its long-standing boundary dispute with India but also on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). While India holds about 45% of J&K territory and Pakistan controls 35%, China occupies about 20% (including Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley, ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963).

A Beijing-datelined Xinhua news agency report of an official briefing by China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue on the eve of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s recent visit to India triggered the flap. “China and India share a 2,000-km-long border that has never been formally demarcated,” the report said. India describes the border as being 3,488 km.

The different positions were made even more explicit by the Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. In an interview with Global Times, India’s ambassador to China, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, spoke of the “long common border of 3,488 kilometers” between the two countries. But a comment by the editors of Global Times in parentheses said: “There is no settled length of the common border. The Chinese government often refers to the border length as being ‘about 2,000 kilometers’.”

Reports in state-owned media have been describing the border as being 2,000 km for at least a year now.

The roughly 1,500 km-long shortfall in the Chinese perception is believed to refer to the Sino-Indian boundary in J&K. “China apparently no longer treats the line of nearly 1,600 km separating Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and Xinjiang and Tibet on the other as a border with India,” strategic affairs expert C Raja Mohan wrote in the Indian Express. That is, it does not recognize Kashmir to be part of India.

Beijing is questioning India’s locus standi to discuss J&K’s border with China, observes B Raman, a retired director in India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). In essence, it is seeking to exclude discussion of the western sector of the disputed Sino-Indian boundary with India. The western sector includes the large chunk of Indian territory, Aksai Chin, in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir that China occupied in 1962.

Besides, China “wants to change the format of the border talks in order to keep it confined bilaterally to the eastern and middle sectors and expand it to a trilateral issue involving India, China and Pakistan in the western sector,” Raman wrote recently.

China has become increasingly assertive in its questioning of India’s sovereignty over J&K. Since 2008, it has been issuing visas on a separate sheet of paper to residents of Jammu and Kashmir rather than stamping the visa in their passports, as is the norm with other Indian citizens. In August last year, China also denied a visa to Lieutenant General B S Jaswal – commander of the Indian army’s Northern Command, which includes Kashmir – for an official visit to China, on the grounds that he “controlled” a “disputed area”.

Besides, over the past year, Beijing has been reaching out to the Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of Kashmiri separatist outfits. In March 2010, for instance, Chinese Foreign Affairs director Ying Gang met with Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Geneva on the sidelines of the 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Besides questioning India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, China has been endorsing Islamabad’s control over the part of Kashmir it has administered since 1947.

It was with India that the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed an Instrument of Accession in October 1947. However, only 45% of the territory of the former princely state is in India’s hands today, roughly 35% remaining under Pakistani administration and another 20% under Chinese control. The territory under Chinese occupation includes Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley that Pakistan gifted to China in 1963.

In the Northern Areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, China is involved in the construction of several infrastructure projects, including roads, hydroelectric power projects, dams, expressways, bridges and telecommunication facilities. During Wen’s recent visit to Pakistan, the two countries signed a US$275 million agreement for repair and expansion of the Karakoram Highway. Earlier in September, Beijing underlined its support to Islamabad’s territorial claims over parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir when it described the Northern Areas as “a northern part of Pakistan”.

The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir predates the People’s Republic of China (PRC). India and Pakistan had already fought their first war over Kashmir when the PRC came into being. Initially, China took its cues from the Soviet Union on the issue. It described the conflict as a Western creation and maintained that the US and Britain were hoping to make Kashmir a Western base.
China took a “neutral position” in the 1950s. It opposed foreign arbitration on the Kashmir issue, which pleased India. At the same time, it did not endorse Delhi’s claims over Kashmir. Fraying Sino-Soviet relations and Moscow’s overt support to Jammu and Kashmir as “an inalienable part of the Republic of India”, as well as concerns that its backing of India would push Pakistan into a closer embrace of the US, seem to have prompted it to adopt a more “neutral position” between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

With Sino-Indian relations deteriorating from 1959 onwards, China began tilting towards Pakistan. It signed a border agreement with Pakistan. Since this dealt with areas that constituted Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the agreement amounted to a de facto Chinese recognition of Pakistan’s control over this area. Although it subsequently denied such recognition, describing this as “provisional” and “pending settlement of the Kashmir dispute”, a joint communique issued at the end of prime minister Zhou Enlai’s visit to Pakistan in February 1964 was a strong endorsement of the Pakistani position. It urged a solution of the dispute “in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir”. India is opposed to a plebiscite in Kashmir.

By the mid/late 1970s, China began advocating a status quo on Kashmir. Support for the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination was toned down. In 1976, in his speech before the UN General Assembly, Chinese foreign minister Chia Kuan-Hua omitted naming Kashmir in a list of territories where the right to self-determination had not been exercised. It is believed that China’s own troubles with separatism and improving ties with India prompted its shrinking support on self-determination.

With Sino-Indian rapprochement gathering momentum in the 1990s, China began describing Kashmir as a bilateral matter to be resolved by India and Pakistan through peaceful means. On his visit to India in 1996, president Ziang Zemin called on India and Pakistan to set aside contentious issues and build a cooperative relationship. During the brief Kargil conflict in 1999, China called on India and Pakistan to respect the Line of Control that separates Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir. These were seen as signs of Beijing taking a neutral position on Kashmir again.

China has never accepted India’s sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir, even over the part that is under its control. After all, if it did it would mean giving up the roughly 43,180 square kilometers of territory that is currently under its control. However, it had avoided provoking India on the matter publicly. This has changed in recent years, with Beijing being “deliberately provocative” on Kashmir.

India is not letting the repeated provocations go unchallenged. After all, the territorial integrity of the country is a core concern of the Indian state. A couple of months ago, in his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna did some tough talking. According to officials quoted by the Hindu, for the first time India drew a parallel between “the territorial red lines” of the two countries.

Krishna reportedly told Yang that just as India had been sensitive to its concerns over Tibet and Taiwan, Beijing too should be mindful of Indian sensitivities on Jammu and Kashmir. The message that India is sending is that if China questions India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, India will question Beijing’s sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan.

Delhi has indicated that Krishna’s warning was to be taken seriously. The joint communique issued at the end of Wen’s visit to India made no reference to India’s commitment to a “one china policy”. This is the first time since 1988 that a summit-level joint communique has made no mention of the policy. Instead, both sides agreed to show “mutual respect and sensitivity for each other’s concerns and aspirations”.

-Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

Pakistan, India Swap Nuclear Sites Lists

By Zhang Xiang for Xinhua News

Pakistan and India exchanged lists of nuclear installations and facilities on Saturday in spite of a tension over the 2008 Mumbai attacks that has disrupted the dialogue process between the two countries, the Foreign Ministry said.

The two countries exchange the lists of nuclear sites on the first day of the new year under an agreement signed in 1988 and came into force in January 1991.

“The government of Pakistan and India today exchanged lists of their respective nuclear installations and facilities in accordance with Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India of Dec. 31, 1988,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The statement said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over the list of Pakistan’s nuclear installations and facilities to an officer of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad at the Foreign Office on Saturday morning.

The Indian side also handed over their list to an officer of the Pakistan High Commission at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, it said.

After the agreement was signed the first exchange took place Jan. 1, 1992.

Sources said it is the 20th consecutive list exchange between the two countries.

Pakistan and India conducted tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998. India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, followed by five more in 1998. Pakistan conducted its six nuclear tests in 1998. Neither India nor Pakistan is a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India considers the NPT discriminatory, while Pakistan has indicated that it won’t join the international agreement till its neighbor does so.

Neither of the two rival neighbors have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In 2004 they launched a peace process, but that is now on hold following the Mumbai attacks, with New Delhi pressuring Islamabad to do more to punish those responsible for the carnage and to crack down on anti-India groups.

Meanwhile, both countries also exchanged Lists of Prisoners in the two countries, the Foreign Ministry said.

According to the Agreement on Consular Access signed between Pakistan and India on May 21, 2008, both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody on Jan. 1 and July 1 every year, the statement said.

“Consistent with the provisions of this Agreement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over the list of Indian prisoners in Pakistan to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad today,” it said.

Will India Win Coveted UN Seat?

By Sunil Sharan for The Huffington Post

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao says Pakistan is hypnotically obsessed with India but she and her bosses too are fixated on a coveted prize, a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. The mandarins of New Delhi must be pleased as punch to have had over to visit leaders of all five permanent member countries in quick succession. Inexorable appears the march but will India find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? And, if it does, what are the implications for itself as well as for Pakistan?

First in was David Cameron of Britain, who arrived during the summer and offered unstinting support, whetting local appetite for the main American course. And, did he fail to disappoint? No sir, Barack Obama set the cat amongst the pigeons by endorsing India for the seat, the first time ever by the US. India rejoiced while Pakistan recoiled.

But a careful examination shows him adhering closely to what he told Bob Woodward in the book, Obama’s Wars. In lieu of the seat, he expects India to resolve Kashmir. At a press conference with Manmohan Singh, Obama characterized Kashmir as a long-standing dispute making the latter stutter that the K-word was not scary. Only then did Obama hand over the endorsement in India’s Parliament but couched in such diplomatese that countless local hair were split over when “the years ahead” would dawn.

Next waltzed in Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The French, like the British, have consistently seen merit in India’s case. Sarkozy though, true to type, proved an enigma. He first tagged on the applications of Africa, the Arabs and pretty much the rest of the world onto India’s, befuddling his hosts, who are willing to concede as equal aspirants only “self-appointed frontrunners” Germany, Japan and Brazil. Just as they were about to give up on him, Sarkozy warmed the cockles of India’s heart by throwing in 2011 as early as when it could make it.

But soon came the caveat. Sarkozy, just like Obama before him, cautioned that with great power status came great responsibilities. Whereas Obama wanted India to be more mindful of human rights violations of countries such as Iran and Myanmar, Sarkozy wanted India to send military forces to keep world peace. With India already being one of the foremost contributors to UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world, the mandarins of New Delhi must have been left wondering what more was being asked of them.

No matter, three down, two to go. By now the state jets were landing at Delhi airport almost on top of one another. Wen Jiabao, the leader India was least looking forward to, came with the master key to entry. Shortly before his visit, WikiLeaks revealed China’s opposition to any council expansion. Indian hopes were up nevertheless but Wen remained inscrutable, willing only to acknowledge an understanding of India’s aspirations. No one in India knew quite what to make of him and since Wen was off to Pakistan next, all the country could do was wait with clenched teeth to hear what he would say there.

Rounding off the passage to India was Dmitry Medvedev. Relations between Russia and India have frayed considerably since the heady days of the cold war, so much so that Russia has waffled on India’s bid. Medvedev signaled that the waffle still needed baking, voicing support for India while reiterating that reforming the council was tough and required consensus.

All the while Pakistan protested vociferously against what it deemed an indulgence of Indian hegemonism. But what will India gain with a permanent UN seat? Could it block Pakistani claims on Kashmir? True a permanent member wielding veto power can stonewall but the veto seems unattainable for seekers since they themselves have forsaken it. And, while India sees red when the K-word is uttered in the UN by Pakistan, no ascension to permanency can make it strangle the latter. Nor can it efface any past security council resolutions.

So then, what is it? Nothing comes to mind but the obvious, the acceptance that any arriviste craves. Even that appears a false hankering because ever since its early years, Gandhi’s legacy and Nehru’s charisma burnished the country with global influence disproportionate to its economic and military capabilities. A bee once in one’s bonnet is hard to get rid of though. And, as every journey must have a fitting end, India has found a destination to its liking.

Flush with cash, New Delhi wants to beef up its military. All of the recent visitors bar China are major suppliers of defence equipment to India. As bees flock to honey, they arrived armed with catalogues of the most terrifying stuff. Inherent was a delicate diplomatic quid-pro-quo. The more arms you buy from us, the more we will push your candidacy. As Islamabad keeps raising the bar for India’s seat, so too will India have to up its arms binge.

Lost in Pakistan’s current rhetoric was its vote in October to put India in the security council for two years beginning January 1, 2011. Once on, we will never get off is the new mantra of India’s brave. India seemingly returned the favor by taking in stride the sale of Chinese nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Is there more afoot than meets the eye?

Every country is entitled to its obsession. Pakistan’s is obvious. By continually thumbing its nose at a NATO mired in Afghanistan, it has put the K-word in spotlight, albeit on the backstage. A deal has been blessed by the powers that be. Both the seat and Srinagar are not far away.

The writer edits a website on India: http://www.scooptime.com.

Chinese Premier Visits Pakistan to Reinforce Ties

By Salman Masood for The New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao arrived in Islamabad on Friday for a three-day visit that Pakistani officials said was aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership and economic cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and members of his cabinet welcomed Mr. Wen at Chaklala Air Base in neighboring Rawalpindi on Friday afternoon. A red carpet was rolled out and elaborate ceremonies were held to signify the importance Pakistan attaches to China, which is considered a close ally.

“Friendship with China is a matter of pride for our nation,” Mr. Gilani was quoted as saying by local media as he welcomed his Chinese counterpart.

Apart from holding meetings with Mr. Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, Mr. Wen was scheduled to address a special joint session of the Parliament on Sunday.

Pakistan’s military ties with China are strong and China has assisted Pakistan in tank production, fighter aircraft manufacturing and naval technology. But since the late 1990s, economic concerns have gained increased importance. Trade and energy have taken precedence in Pakistan’s relations with China.

Mr. Wen was accompanied by 260 business executives.

Pakistani officials say there is a need to enhance trade between the countries that stands around $7 billion a year. But there also are concerns here that the trade deficit is growing heavily in favor of China.

“The relationship is undergoing a qualitative change,” said Mansoor Ahmad, an independent security analyst based in Islamabad. “This change is manifested in China’s relationship with emerging markets and developing countries, which is essentially based on forging and enhancing trade linkages and securing new markets for Chinese investment.”

The Chinese are also cooperating with Pakistan in developing its civil nuclear energy program despite discontent from Washington and New Delhi.

Mr. Wen, the Chinese prime minister, arrived here after completing a two-day tour of India, the estranged neighbor of Pakistan.

China would have to undertake a fine balancing act regarding enhancing its cooperation with both India and Pakistan, said Mr. Ahmad. China and India would forge economic ties despite their continuing territorial disputes, given India’s huge market, he said. Tensions between India and Pakistan worsened after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, which India and the United States blamed on Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamic group based in Pakistan.

The Pakistan government sees China as a counterweight to India, and officials said that closer Chinese cooperation with India would not affect Pakistani ties with China.

Nonetheless, Mr. Wen’s visit to India this week yielded greater immiediate progress on the economic front than toward resolving the more complicated geostrategic issues.

“In Pakistan’s case, we have already had a longstanding strategic partnership which is now being supplemented by increasing Chinese investment in infrastructural development, civil nuclear cooperation and establishing rail and road linkages between the two countries,” Mr. Ahmad said.

Pakistan Shifted Emphasis Away From India Border, says US

As reported by The Economic Times

WASHINGTON: Pakistan was shifting its emphasis away from its eastern border with India, a decision it had taken on its own because of a “definite shift” in Islamabad’s military posture brought about by fundamental changes within the country, the US has said.

It said while it does want Islamabad to act more aggressively against extremists within Pakistan it played little role in Islamabad’s decision to move its troops away from the border with India.

“First of all, how Pakistan decides to deploy its military forces is a decision for Pakistan,” State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley told reporters Friday what role the US had played in the movement of 140,000 troops away from the Pakistani-Indian border as mentioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“We’ve made no secret of our desire to see Pakistan take more aggressive action against extremist elements within its own borders,” he said. “That is a threat to Pakistan itself.”

“And as the Secretary said, we have seen Pakistan shift its emphasis away from the Pakistani-Indian border and more aggressively to the Swat Valley and other areas where these extremists operate.”

“And no military has suffered more significant casualties in undertaking these operations than Pakistan. But these were obviously decisions for Pakistan to make,” Crowley said.

“But the context of increasing dialogue and reducing tensions between Pakistan and India is something that we have stressed in our dialogue with both countries,” he said.

Asked if Clinton was making an announcement, Crowley said: “Yeah, we’ve seen a definite shift in the Pakistani military’s posture. (But), it wasn’t an announcement.”

“I think it was a reflection of fundamental changes that have occurred in Pakistan as part of our strategic dialogue and our cooperation on dealing with the threat on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.”

Asked about India’s role in Afghanistan after the recent review of the US Af-Pak strategy, Crowley said: “Well, we do have a regional strategy. India has legitimate interest in helping with the future of Pakistan.

“It has contributed significantly to development and reconstruction projects within Afghanistan. And we encourage that activity, even as we stress the importance of dialogue between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, other countries. So no efforts like this are misunderstood,” he said.

China’s Wen, India’s Singh Make Little Progress at Summit

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Thursday in New Delhi, the main event of a three-day summit aimed at building trust and reducing long-standing irritants. But they announced no substantive breakthrough and little progress on border disputes, access to shared water resources or security issues.

Nor was there any apparent progress on India’s bid to open Chinese markets to its software, pharmaceuticals and farm products. New Delhi also remains wary of Beijing’s regional ambitions and its ties with Pakistan, India’s nuclear adversary.
The two rising Asian superpowers made some modest progress on the economic front, pledging to expand trade to $100 billion by 2015 from $60 billion at present and try to reduce the trade gap. China is India’s largest trading partner, but trade flows are heavily weighted in Beijing’s favor.

The two leaders also agreed to set up a hotline, and both sides spoke about the need for improved ties.

“I hope that my visit will help increase our cooperation in a wide range of fields and raise our friendship and cooperation to an even higher level,” Wen told reporters on leaving a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace.

“A strong partnership between India and China will contribute to long-term peace, stability, prosperity and development in Asia and the world,” Singh added.

But any move to turn the regional cooperation rhetoric into reality will quickly run into roadblocks, analysts said, given the nations’ differences over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, North Korea’s long-standing conflict with the international community and continued warfare in Afghanistan.

China appeared keen to outdo the recent visit to India by President Obama. Chinese officials brought a contingent of 400 business executives, compared with the 250 American business men and women who accompanied the U.S. leader. And they signed $16 billion worth of business deals, compared with America’s $10 billion.

Singh and Wen reportedly discussed many of their nations’ core differences, including Pakistan; divided Kashmir; and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader based in northern India and considered by Beijing to be a “splittist” enemy of a unified China. But neither side made any significant concessions.

The two nations agreed to keep working on peacefully resolving their lingering border disputes, the focus of a brief war in 1962. Talks have languished for years.

China claims much of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, whereas India wants China to back away from a slice of territory it controls in Kashmir, the disputed region largely divided between India and Pakistan.

“It will not be easy to completely resolve this question,” Wen said in a speech. “It requires patience and will take a fairly long period of time. Only with sincerity, mutual trust and perseverance can we eventually find a fair, reasonable and a mutually acceptable solution.”

In other words, said analysts: Don’t hold your breath. Add it up, they said, and this meeting — the 11th between the two leaders in five years — accomplished relatively little.

“Issues that fuel mutual mistrust, such as Kashmir for the Indians and Tibet for the Chinese, were addressed, but not substantially,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. “The boundary dispute has not been resolved. There’s no road map.”

 

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