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"Déjà vu all over again?" : why dialogue won't solve the Kashmir dispute

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Publication Date: January 2001

Publisher(s): East-West Center

Author(s): Arun R. Swamy

Series: AsiaPacific issues ; no. 56

Topic: Government (Foreign relations)
International relations (Diplomacy)

Type: Report

Abstract:

The intensification of a long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan over the state of Kashmir has become the cause of international concern. The stakes for these nuclear-armed rivals are high. Each views Kashmir as the validation of its national ideology; each fears that giving it up will result in serious domestic turmoil. Moreover, each country has plausible legal arguments for its claims along with a long history of grievances. The deep differences over Kashmir that divide the two countries have so far proven intractable, and following September 11 the movement toward confrontation accelerated. There has never been a more urgent need for international attention to Kashmir. While diplomatic engagement seems necessary for a resolution of this dispute, past results indicate that simply pressuring the two sides to talk may be disastrous. In order to avoid such results, any effort to intervene in this dispute must be undertaken with an awareness of how it evolved, why it has been so difficult to resolve, and what kinds of solutions to it might realistically be pursued.