Call Pakistan’s Bluff by Revisiting Manmohan-Musharraf Formula

Sushma Swaraj should re-state Manmohan-Musharraf formula at UNGA to build pressure on Pakistan, writes Sanjaya Baru.

4 min read
Call Pakistan’s Bluff by Revisiting Manmohan-Musharraf Formula

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On prime time television, on 21 September evening, several Indian news TV channels were promising live late night telecast of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to the United Nations General Assembly. Expert commentators were being lined up for instant analysis of a predictable speech. I watched a movie instead.


Pakistan’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Surprise Anymore

The issue is not the Uri attack. At Uri, there were security lapses on our side and, in any case, a jihadi terror attack in which the attackers are willing to die cannot be foiled that easily.

While the government of India has done the right thing to record and publicise the evidence of the Pakistani involvement in this attack, few around the world doubt any longer that Pakistan is officially engaged in waging war against India in the name of Kashmir.

The statement of Prime Minister Sharif at the UNGA that “peace and normalisation between Pakistan and India cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute”, is, in fact, an open declaration of Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terrorism.

But that is not news. Nor is anything that Mr Sharif said at UNGA. The fact that he said it, would of course be. But then, what else should we have expected?

(Photo: The Quint)

Trying the Musharraf-Manmohan Formula

The only real solution to the so-called Kashmir problem is the now forgotten Musharraf-Manmohan formula.

The formula suggested:

  • There would be no redrawing of the border, and the Line of Control will become the de facto international border;
  • However, free movement of people and goods would be allowed across the Line of Control;
  • Pakistan would commit to an end to supporting violence in Kashmir, while India would commit to a reduction of troops and both countries would agree to a gradual withdrawal of troops to an agreed distance from the border;
  • Both countries would institutionalise self-governance for internal management on both sides of the LoC.
(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

Putting Pressure on Pakistan

It has now become fashionable for commentators in both the countries to say that this formula is no longer relevant, because neither Pervez Musharraf nor Manmohan Singh retain popular support within their own countries.

Merely because the authors of the formula have become politically irrelevant at home does not mean that the formula itself has become irrelevant. There is no other long-term solution to the Kashmir problem.

In fact, in response to the bluff and bluster of Mr Sharif at the UNGA, Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj should re-state the Musharraf-Manmohan formula and seek international support for it.

I do believe the international community will gladly support India and exert pressure on Pakistan to fall in line.


Realistic Solution to Kashmir

  • Nawaz Sharif’s reference to Kashmir in his speech at UNGA is an open declaration of Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terrorism.
  • A realistic solution to the Kashmir issue can be sought by falling back on the Manmohan-Musharraf formula.
  • The tenets of the formula included accepting the LoC as the de facto international border with Pakistan committing to put an end to violence.
  • Just because the authors of the formula are no longer politically relevant doesn’t mean the formula has become redundant.

How Should India Respond?

Indeed, it is even possible that the civilian political leadership and a wide cross-section of the Pakistani society will welcome this way-out strategy. Only the Pakistan army and the radical Islamic groups and the jihadi terrorist outfits in Pakistan and Kashmir will reject this formula.

It is Pakistan’s rejection of this solution, the unseating of Musharraf and the military support to the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai that has set the clock back in Jammu & Kashmir.

If Pakistan does not step back and change course, India would have no option but to escalate its political, diplomatic and military response. To begin with, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should call for an indefinite postponement of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit in Islamabad this November.

India should also terminate Pakistan’s ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) status and end all economic engagement with Pakistan, linking their revival to the restoration of normal trade and transit links as they existed in the 1950s and 1960s.


Measured Response

The Indian response should be a series of such measured steps rather than high-pitched rhetoric. As on so many fronts, our work is largely at home. When we do what we must with greater efficiency and commitment and better results, we can afford to take a stand and expect the world to respond accordingly.

India’s response cannot be tailored to our expectation of how the world and our neighbourhood would respond. Our response has to be based on our capability, competence and commitment.


(The writer is director for geo-economics and strategy, International Institute for Strategic Studies, honorary senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research, and former media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He can be reached at @barugaru. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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