There’s Grand Bargain being proposed by the Schaffers, former diplomats: http://bit.ly/phRJ6v
While it’s an imaginative proposal, it’s doubtful how successful it will be on the ground. It needs sincerity on the part of everyone concerned to succeed. Given the trust deficit on all sides, that’s a tall order.
Let me make a provocative comment from an Indian POV.
What if India says no to every such proposal? The situation in AfPak and Kashmir is NOT a stalemate from the Indian perspective. Things are moving in India’s favour. Both the US and Pakistan are losing, in different ways. One country is losing the war, or at least visibly failing to achieve even its modest objectives, and the costs are becoming unsustainable. The other country is losing control of itself and sliding into chaos and bankruptcy. India alone is unaffected. So why should India settle early? If India waits, in the end, it will have it all – all of Kashmir on its own terms, a Pakistan on its knees and economically captive to India, world recognition of India’s pre-eminence in South Asia, and a China deprived of its Pakistani lever and forced to cooperate with the unquestioned power to its south. The West will also engage very differently, with a lot more respect and a lot less leverage. Longer-term, India holds all the cards.
The pressure is greatest on the US to settle early and cut their losses while being able to claim victory. That’s why the proposals are flowing thick and fast from the Americans.
The pressure has started mounting cruelly on the Pakistani people but the establishment is still isolated enough to keep up their rhetoric. That’s why Pakistan is still playing the spoiler although many voices there have begun sounding warnings that this is foolishness. Another couple of years and reality will start to bite the establishment as well. Their power is crumbling but they are currently in denial.
India, on the contrary, is under no pressure at all.
Afghanistan is not a problem for India. It was never ‘ours’, but the work India has done there has won the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Afghans the way neither the US nor Pakistan has been able to do. Once Pakistan’s power collapses, it will be possible to earn the dividend on that investment.
Kashmir is not a problem either. In the worst case, India can continue to hold it the way it has done over the last many decades in the face of external aggression, fomented insurgencies and perhaps even some local discontent. In time, the view of Kashmiris will also change. They are already seeing the differences between India and Pakistan. One country is growing and offers opportunities for education and economic advancement. The other is sinking into a morass of violence and economic stagnation. In a couple of years, a plebiscite in Kashmir may end up being extremely embarrassing for Pakistan if Kashmiris on both sides opt for becoming part of India. It’s within the realm of possibility that India can take all of Kashmir with legitimacy.
What about the much feared Pakistani nukes? If Pakistan senses that it is about to lose everything, they (i.e., a few fanatics in the GHQ) might decided it’s better to take India down with it rather than live with Indian ‘hegemony’. I actually think the Pakistani nukes are a chimera because they were supplied by China, and China is smart enough not to part with the codes. In other words, I don’t believe Pakistan can launch its nuclear weapons without a nod from China. The nukes are there as a bargaining chip. They cannot actually be used.
I believe India should not blink now. Its leaders should recognise the strength of its position (strengthening further with time), and hold out for the grand prize.
It’s only under the peace and stability of a Pax Indica that the people of South Asia will benefit and their living standards will begin to improve. How does that sound as a solution?