It is reasonable to conclude that relations between India and Pakistan will never be normalized until the Kashmir dispute is settled. It is no less obvious that the two sides will be unable to tackle this old and vexing issue unless a basic level of normalization has already been achieved. In other words, a measure of confidence needs to be developed through accords on other issues. Such agreements would serve to convince each side of the other’s bona fides without in any way compromising its stand on Kashmir.
In this essay, A.G. Noorani suggests three pending issues on the Indo-Pakistani agenda which are preeminently susceptible to a solution in the near future: demilitarization of the Siachen Glacier in northern Kashmir, the barrage to be constructed by the state government of Jammu and Kashmir on the Jhelum River below Wular Lake, and a demarcation of the Indo-Pakistani territorial and maritime boundaries in the Sir Creek area between Gujarat (India) and Sind (Pakistan).
Each issue lends itself to an approach that blends legal and political considerations. Although each issue is of limited proportions, the impact of a solution to all three points would be significant for Indo-Pakistani relation, imparting momentum to discussions on other confidence-building measures and on the dispute over Kashmir. The only obstacle to such an accord is a lack of political will.