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Expats feel summit hopes were too high

AFTER the much hyped Indo-Pak summit in Agra ended inconclusive, a pall of gloom has descended on the people of both countries. The people from the Indian sub-continent, especially the expatriates, have been pinning much hope on the talks. However, their expectations were dashed when the summit could not produce any agreement or declaration.

Here are the reactions of a few expatriates from India and Pakistan on the outcome of the summit.

"We should not have kept high hopes about the outcome of the summit," said K Bhagawath Singh, president of Indian Association Sharjah. He said since the stand on Kashmir by both sides were clear and uncompromising even before the discussions, nobody with any political wisdom would have expected an overnight solution for the issue through dialogues. "The only positive result that was expected was reducing the depth of rivalry between the two neighbours," said Singh. He said if this tempo and friendship are continued, it would help solve other unattended problems. Singh pointed out that keeping the Kashmir issue alive was a political necessity for Kashmir.
"Even Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's existence is depending on this issue. He also might not have hoped that the problem would be solved in a few days," said Singh. He said it would take many other summits to create an atmosphere of closeness and friendship which will lead to the solution of other problems. "The only outcome of this summit was that a change of attitude has become prevalent as far as the heads of states are concerned," said Singh.

Mohammad Faisal, a building materials trader from Pakistan, said the summit had not failed as being propagated by the Western media. Vajpayee has been invited to Pakistan which he has accepted. The people of the two countries want peace but it is the politicians, the leaders and the bureaucrats who want otherwise to save their chair. But, he said there was still a chance for peace since the dialogue has started.

"I am not disappointed totally because nothing could be solved immediately," said Ram Buxani, the founder chairman of Overseas Indian Economic Forum and director of director, ITL Cosmos. "We have nothing to get discouraged of what has happened. When an effort is made the result could be either positive or negative. Still it is an effort," said Buxani. He said the basic achievement of the summit was that leaders from both the sides met one on one and had an open talk. "Both of them have realised the importance of sitting across one table," said Buxani. He said that if there was a feeling of acceptance of the hard facts from both the sides, this problem would not have lingered on like this. "It is better to reach an understanding only after proper talks which will be long lasting. We had agreements in the past but they did not last long," said Buxani. He said every political leader is answerable to the people of his country. He said he was happy that the talks started with a positive thinking. "The way Musharraf was received by India shows that we still maintain the Asian and oriental culture. It has been proved that Mehman Jo Hamara Hota Hai Wo Jaan Se Pyaara Hota Hai (Our guests are dearer than our lives)," said Buxani quoting an old Mukesh song.

'It was painful to hear the news of summit failure because we had pinned much hopes on it', said PT Abdul Rahman Mohammed, president, Dubai Indian Islamic Centre. "If an agreement was made, it would have proved beneficial for both the countries. Apart from bringing financial gains and development of trade, a tension-free relation between neighbours is always good for the people of both the countries," said Mohammed. However, he was sceptical about the adamant stand taken by Musharraf even when he was given due respect by India. Mohammed said that Musharraf was not diplomatic enough in finding a solution to the pricking problems. "India cannot accept that Kashmir was the core issue. Kashmir can only be discussed as a problem among other issues. Anyhow, there is a ray of hope as the leaders have declared that it was not the last meeting and Vajpayee has accepted Pakistan's invitation for a return visit," said Mohammed.

"The effort should be continued despite the differences," said Gangadhar Jaswani, a leading Indian businessman and a Hindi poet. He said though hopes of people from both the countries, especially the Kashmiris, have been dashed, still it cannot be billed as a failure. 'If both the leaders had reached an agreement, trade between the neighbours would have definitely bettered. Though it is difficult to find a solution for a decades-old problem, there is a relief that an initiative is taken. Let us kindle hopes of good relation between both India and Pakistan,' said Jaswani.

Abbas Ali, a Pakistani electrical technician, said that he had heard that Musharraf had returned to Pakistan after talks on Kashmir failed in Agra. He did not follow the news properly to comment on it.

S Gilani, a Pakistani student, said people had expected a joint statement or declaration. Now that it has not been issued, people feel that the summit has failed. This is absolutely wrong because no miracles can be expected overnight.

Parveen A Rahman, a Pakistani poet, said that she was optimistic that a solution to Kashmir and other issues that are keeping the two countries apart would be soon found through peaceful means. Whether the issues are written down on a piece of paper or not they are there and they need to be resolved, she said.

Noor Khan, a driver, said, "I was very hopeful and wasted two peaceful nights on Sunday and Monday believing that this is going to be a breakthrough." Khan said he was disappointed on the outcome but he is still optimistic about the future. This is a ground-breaking effort, he said attributing all problems to political exploitation of the situation in Kashmir.
He and his colleague, another driver from Karachi, said innocent common man is always the victim of ulterior political motives. "We always want peace to prevail and we pray for that," they said.

Harindran MP, an engineer from Kerala working in Abu Dhabi, said, "I had no interest in the talks because I expected nothing from it. The whole exercise was a farce and the issue cannot be solved with just one meeting of the two heads of state," he said.

CC Abdullah, an Emirates Bank employee and a long-time resident of Dubai, reacted cautiously by saying that the Pak interest was clearly business rather than solving the Kashmir issue. "That country is reeling under the US embargo and there is dire poverty. Trade with India is their big hope and that lead Musharraf to India for the talks," he said.
Abdullah and a couple of others said even if Kashmir is divided and given to Pakistan, the problem will exist. There are killings in Azad Kashmir and inside Pakistani territories. So the problem cannot be looked into just giving up Kashmir to Pakistan.

Ammar Keezhuparambu, a journalist based in Dubai, Gopimohan, an airline employee, Chandramohan, a studio technician and MP Murali, an employee of Galadari, said they all laud Vajpayee for his bold step of inviting the Pakistan leader to India for talks. "It was during the tenure of Vajpayee Clinton visited India, Bush's envoy expressed more deep-rooted relations with India and the visit of Pakistani president occurred. Despite all odds, the visit, however, is a good start." Keezhuparamba said, adding that it was Vajpayee who stared a bus service to Lahore. He, however, opined that there is a dire need for a third-party mediation between India and Pakistan to resolve the half-a-century old Kashmir problem. "It is like a family feud being solved with mediation of relatives," Keezhuparamba said adding that the problem cannot be solved in a one-hour meeting between the two leaders.

Another journalist, who did not want to be named, said Musharraf is a military man. He cannot be an elected civilian president of a democratic country like India. "He will be tough talking and uncompromising," he said.

Article Courtesy: Gulf Today

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