Peace talks over Kashmir resume

India and Pakistan hold negotiations over disputed territory.

    Peace talks between Pakistan and India are aimed
    at resolving the dispute over Kashmir [EPA]

    Pranab Mukherjee, India's external affairs minister, is expected to meet Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, as well as Pervez Musharraf, the president.
    The talks were being held against the backdrop of a series of bombings last week in the Indian city of Jaipur, which killed 61 people.
    India has in the past accused Pakistan-based groups of involvement in such attacks.
    Incidents in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, including one on Monday in which the Indian army said it lost a soldier due to firing from the Pakistani side, could also affect the talks.
    Peace negotiations between Pakistan and India are aimed at resolving the conflict over Kashmir, but while talks have so far diminished the possibility of all-out war, and fostered cultural and transportation links, they have achieved little else.
    Unstable coalition
    Pakistan's state news agency reported that Mukherjee might also meet Asif Ali Zardari, head of the main coalition party seen as the power behind the prime minister, as well as Nawaz Sharif, who heads the junior coalition party.
    Pakistan's coalition government, formed after elections in February, has said it wants to press on with the peace talks that Musharraf began in early 2004.
    But the talks may be hampered by a falling out within the coalition over how to restore Pakistan's judges, fired last year by Musharraf.
    "The new government is so fragile," Moonis Ahmar, a Pakistani international affairs analyst, said. "As long as the fragility is there, then it cannot make a decision."
    Talat Masood, another Pakistani political analyst, said the talks were likely to go nowhere as Gilani was not in a position of power.
    "He doesn't have the power and everyone is looking over the shoulder to Mr Zardari or others to Nawaz Sharif," he said.
    Analysts say the talks could lead to easing of travel and visa restrictions but no headway on core issues, including the military confrontation in Kashmir and the high-altitude Siachen glacier area.
    Ashok Mehta, a strategic analyst in New Delhi, predicted little progress partly because India was uncertain if the new Pakistani government would continue Musharraf's policies.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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