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India and Pakistan: Back from the Brink?

Boston University Professor Adil Najam (pictured) and C. Raja Mohana, Kissinger Scholar at the Library of Congress, discuss the possible outcomes of India-Pakistan peace talks. (2 min., 10 sec.)

Boston University Professor Adil Najam (pictured) and C. Raja Mohana, Kissinger Scholar at the Library of Congress, discuss the possible outcomes of India-Pakistan peace talks. (2 min., 10 sec.)

NEW YORK, February 4, 2010 - Progress towards peace is in sight for India and Pakistan, with the resumption of diplomatic talks, according to C. Raja Mohan, Kissinger Chair at the Library of Congress. "All indications are the talks are going to begin pretty soon," he said.

Mohan spoke at a panel discussion at Asia Society New York headquarters, moderated by Robert Templer, Director of the Asia Program at the International Crisis Group.

The five-year-old peace process was suspended after the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Adil Najam, Director of the Pardee Center at Boston University, was decidedly optimistic. "The peace process is much less stalled than we think it is, than it has been historically... unofficial relations between the countries have been far more positive" than in the past. 

Najam prescribed a three-step solution to the conflict: One "get real—both countries have to understand the legitimacy of each other's argument," two, "get together—not talking is never a good way to start talking," and three, "get going—smaller investments in creating the conditions for peace have very high dividends."

As for Kashmir, one of the key issues sticking points between India and Pakistan, Najam said it is "ripe for resolution" but cautioned that "it is not without and expiry date." He said, once talks resume both countries must make concrete steps towards acknowledging the complexity of Kashmir and the patchwork of ethnic communities that reside within its borders.

As for US government's involvement in the next round of talks, the panelists agreed, that India and Pakistan must be allowed to continue dialogue without American pressure.

"I think the table is for two," said Mohan. "If you want to put pressure on, be my guest—that's what the Clinton administration did, we got nowhere. Bush kept out of it, we got somewhere. And I think the Obama administration has learned its lessons... If you have learned anything from the last 60 years, the maximum progress has been made when the Americans had their hands off."

Reported by Suzanna Finley