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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
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India, Pakistan begin peace talks to settle disputes

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan began historic meetings Monday aimed at preparing the way for a sustained peace dialogue on Kashmir and other disputes that have kept the neighbors at loggerheads for decades.
Pakistan is eager to show quick progress during the three days of talks, which also are likely to cover confidence-building measures in the nuclear field to avoid an accident – especially considering admissions of leaks of nuclear technology by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program.
India and Pakistan last held formal peace talks in July 2001 in Agra, India.Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee agreed to launch the new dialogue when they met on the sidelines of a South Asian summit in January.
Jalil Abbas Jilani, a director-general in Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, and Arun Kumar Singh, a joint secretary in India’s External Affairs Ministry, shook hands and smiled before the start of the meeting. The sides met for nearly two hours in the morning before breaking for lunch.
Singh is leading a four-member Indian team at the talks, the first real test of the two sides’ willingness to show flexibility on long-entrenched positions, such as the disputed Kashmir region – the cause of two of the countries’ three wars since their 1947 independence.
A ”line of control” divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. More than 65,000 people have been killed in an insurgency that has raged in India-controlled portions of the territory since 1989.
In the latest violence, suspected separatist rebels shot and killed a local politician Monday as he stood on a roadside in Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s Jammu-Kashmir state, police said.
Two police officers nearby raced to the scene and opened fire on the assailants. One officer was killed and the other wounded as the attackers retaliated, and the attackers escaped.
Meanwhile, in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, more than 500 people Monday from a political group seeking Kashmir’s independence blocked a main street for nearly two hours to protest the Pakistan-India talks.
”These negotiations are being held to end the Kashmiris’ struggle,” said Ghulam Nabi War, a Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader. ”The two countries are not interested in people of Kashmir. They don’t respect their wishes.”
After coming close to fighting a fourth war in 2002, India and Pakistan have moved to restore transport links and diplomatic ties. Soldiers in November halted cross-border firing in Kashmir.
India is also set to embark on its first cricket tour of Pakistan since 1989 – a breakthrough for the two cricket-crazy nations.
”Pakistan is approaching these talks sincerely and earnestly. We hope that India would demonstrate matching reciprocity,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said Sunday.
The two sides are likely to set up expert groups to discuss a dispute over the flow of water to Pakistan from the Wullar barrage in India’s Jammu-Kashmir state and fighting at the world’s highest battleground in Siachen, an 18,000-foot high glacier.
With national elections due in India in April, no major decisions are expected by Vajpayee’s government during this round of talks. However, the prime minister is expected to stay in power and pursue the peace process.

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