From an international perspective, another meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders will invariably pass as a non-event. However, the 4-6 January SAARC summit is significant because of its venue, Islamabad, where Indian and Pakistani heads of state will meet after an intense phase of mutual hostility. The latest round of India-Pakistan reconciliation started on 23 November 2003, when Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zaffarullah Khan Jamali announced a unilateral ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and expressed his willingness to accept a series of bilateral confidence building measures (CBMs), several of which had earlier been suggested by India. The CBMs included starting a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffrabad, and re-opening a previously existing rail route linking Khokhrapar (in Rajasthan, India) and Munnabao (in Sindh, Pakistan). With India's acceptance, the guns fell silent across the LoC on 25 November for the first time in two decades. At several outposts along the LoC, Indian and Pakistani soldiers celebrated the Islamic festival of Id by exchanging sweets instead of targeting each other with shells. It is premature to say that the new India-Pakistan rapprochement will lead to lasting peace in the region. The current improvement in Indo-Pakistani relations is caused by a combination of outside pressure and domestic compulsions. The current ceasefire is a tactical reprieve, which will last through the SAARC summit. This document examines the likeliness of a long term level of India-Pakistan hostility and increased political and economic interaction.
Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
Strategic Insights (January 2004), v.3 no.1