Prospects of India-Pakistan Peace amid the War in Afghanistan
IPRI Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Summer 2007), pp 56-72
The renewed significance that South Asia has gained in world politics since the terrorist events of September 11, 2001 in the United States and consequent acts of terrorism in the region, has reinforced the urgency of securing peace between India and Pakistan. The issue of peace in the region depends primarily on what happens in their mutual relationship. The two countries have indeed pursued a vibrant peace process since January 2004, resulting in significant Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs). However, they have not yet achieved any meaningful progress in resolving core disputes such as Kashmir. On the War on Terror in the region as well as the future of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan continue to pursue conflicts of interest. While Pakistan has offered specific new proposals on Kashmir, India has ued this war to shift the international focus from Kashmiri self-determination to Pakistani terrorism.

This article argues that the terrorist manifestation of religious extremism is a threat common to both India and Pakistan, as well as to Afghanistan and the rest of the international community. It is a threat that can only be confronted jointly, with greater counter-terrorism cooperation and by resolving conflicts, such as the militancy in Kashmir and insurgency in Afghanistan, through mutually conducive diplomatic compromises. A credible internationally-backed regional push towards conflict resolution in South Asia, including Afghanistan, will provide the real boost to regional peace, provided its principal players, particularly India, are prepared to put on hold their expedient, real-politic interests.

It is in the interest of India and Pakistan as well as Afghanistan that the US-led international campaign against Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan succeeds. Yet another proxy war between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan will harm them, Afghanistan as well as the international peace and security mission in Afghanistan. A secure and stable Afghanistan will be an essential bridge between Central Asia, with enormous sources of energy, and South Asia, faced with the enormity of energy crisis. Pakistan itself has to be more proactive in tackling the sources of extremism and terrorism emanating from its soil, particularly the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Full Text