Despite predictions of a continent-wide conflagration sparked by the war on Islamofascist terror, prospects for peace in the region have become strengthened with renewed vigor in Pakistani-Indian diplomatic efforts. Today, both countries announced new agreements on missile testing and expansion of diplomatic ties:
India and Pakistan made progress toward ending five decades of enmity by agreeing Monday to notify each other before missile tests, open new consulates and try to end a deadly dispute over the Himalayan enclave of Kashmir.
“Both sides are committed, both sides are determined, both sides have the goodwill,” Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar told New Delhi TV after six hours of talks with his Indian counterpart, Foreign Secretary Shashank, who uses only one name. …
The agreements by Khokhar and Shashank were part of a process begun last year with the goal of a summit this year by the leaders of India and Pakistan to resolve conflicting claims to Kashmir. The South Asian neighbors have fought two full-scale wars and a 1999 border clash over the Himalayan enclave.
Khokhar brought an invitation from Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for new Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has pledged to remain on the peace path paved by ousted Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose Hindu-nationalist party lost elections last month.
Normalizing diplomatic relations between the two South Asian nuclear powers has been a foreign-relations goal of the present administration, which has worked diligently behind the scenes to push the two once-bitter enemies to the negotiating table. After 9/11 and Pervez Musharraf’s conversion to anti-Islamofascism, the US has been especially keen on resolving the long-standing disputes over Kashmir and other border issues in order to have both countries concentrate on the broader threat of al-Qaeda and other Islamofascist threats in the region. No doubt, if Pakistan and India can reach a peaceful accommodation, that results in a diplomatically isolated Iran, which would then have Western-friendly nations virtually surrounding it.
The governments of India and Pakistan have worked hard to build a more peaceful relationship, but some credit must also go to the Bush administration. I rather doubt that our own mainstream media will give it to them.
UPDATE: Miles Davis, the ever-polite opposition on my blog (along with other well-mannered readers such as Arne Langsetmo and Adaplant, and even Linda sometimes, when she disagrees!), challenges me to find evidence of the Bush Administration’s efforts in this regard. Fair enough — I should have done more homework when I posted. With just a few minutes to do this — I have an appointment tonight — here are a few examples:
* Powell goes to New Delhi and Islamabad to smooth tensions and restart peace negotiations (10/01, Guardian)
* Powell takes another trip to both capitals in 2003 (Pakistan Times, 4/03)
* Powell tries to use subtlety rather than impose mediation to bridge the Pakistani-Indian gap (India Digest, 1/04)
* Strategic reasons why the Bush Administration has taken a much broader interest than previous administrations in South Asia (Asia Times, 1/02)
* Powell convinces Pakistan to rein in India-targeted terrorism (The Hindu, 10/01)
* Powell urges new talks between India and Pakistan (CBC, 7/02)
There are plenty more examples, but in Googling Powell India Pakistan, what one notices is the lack of reporting on these efforts by the American media. Don’t you wonder why that would be?