Meditation Focus #42

Peace in Kashmir

Web posted on July 7, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, July 8, 2001)


What follows is the 42nd Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, July 8, 2001.


Great hopes for a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan

1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Watch for Macedonia
5. Peace Watch for Northern Ireland
6. Peace Watch for Soudan
7. Latest developments related to the ongoing Meditation Focus on the Middle East Crisis


There are great hopes that the July 14-16 summit in Agra, India, between Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and India's prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee will result in a significant breakthrough in the often tense relations between India and Pakistan over the long simmering conflict in Kashmir. India's decision to initiate talks with Pakistan has raised hopes of an eventual peace settlement in Kashmir. Pakistan has been calling for direct talks for many months, and welcomed India's invitation. But in Kashmir itself Indian forces have ended a unilateral ceasefire, which had been ignored by militant groups. The dispute, in which 30.000 people have died, has been at the centre of troublesome relations between the two nuclear powers since their creation 54 years ago. Both countries claim the region, and they have fought two wars over it. Since 1990, the Indian portion has been wracked by violence between security forces and Pakistan-backed insurgents, claiming tens of thousands of lives. India accuses Pakistan of financing separatist Muslim rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan maintains it gives only moral support. According to various news reports, this could be the beginning of meaningful peace talks and a significant fervor has been generated by the impending event. "There is much expectation in the air, a genuine belief about resolving differences amicably, the readiness to go the extra mile for peace." Before embarking for India, Gen Pervez Musharraf has chosen to engage in a series of consultations with media persons, politicians, religious leaders, Kashmiri representatives, entrepreneurs, etc., resulting in a genuine dialogue and a "tremendous consensus" in support of a mutually acceptable solution.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to help create in the hearts and minds of everyone in India and Pakistan the genuine desire to put an end to all violence and create a new era of peaceful relationships and mutual understanding in this area of the world. May peace prevail in Kashmir, for the Highest Good of All.


i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.

ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.

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This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation outlined in this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognize that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.

See also our previous Meditation Focus #14: Preparations for Peace Talks in Kashmir continue despite a wave of violence at
and Meditation Focus #28: Potential for Peace in Kashmir at


Great Expectations

Having been a participant as a soldier (as was my late father before me) to the consequences of bad relations between India and Pakistan, one cannot remember greater expectations than for the Musharraf – Vajpayee talks scheduled for July 14 to 16. Given the historical track record, one would normally approach any negotiations with our great neighbor with some skepticism but even the most die-hard cynic has been caught up in the fervor that has been generated by the impending event. There is much expectation in the air, a genuine belief about resolving our differences amicably, the readiness to go the extra mile for peace.

Before embarking for India, Gen Pervez Musharraf has chosen to engage in a series of briefings cum consultations with the broad spectrum of the intelligentsia comprising media persons, politicians, religious leaders, Kashmiri representatives, entrepreneurs, etc. He had already broad consensus among the military hierarchy in the search for a mutually acceptable solution. Being invited to one such session, one expected at best a one-way monologue and self-justification on the newly anointed President’s part at taking this historic initiative. It was a revelation to find that a self-confident Pervez Musharraf was interested in genuine dialogue, that his mind was open to ideas and suggestions and that he had no ego problems. The result was, discounting the odd flattery from the traditional flatterers, a comprehensive debate between very interested participants where a virtual plethora of ideas were mooted and analyzed in open discussion, without rancor. What the President got in return was quite a few converts and a tremendous consensus. Making believers out of such disparate groups and individuals is no mean achievement. As a public relations exercise, the consultations series was outstanding, the resultant welding of the mandate behind the President nothing short of brilliant. Musharraf goes to India that much stronger. The bottom line was simple, everyone came "on board" with respect to peace with India but not at the cost of Kashmir, this remains the core issue for all Pakistanis. CLIP



Pakistan defends Musharraf's offer of 'no war' pact with India

ISLAMABAD, July 6 (AFP) - An offer by President Pervez Musharraf to reach a "no war" pact with India was reasonable, Pakistani officials said Friday, adding it was still on the table despite being reportedly rejected.

"It is an eminently reasonable proposal which remains on the table," foreign office spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan told reporters.

Musharraf in an interview to Indian Zee TV said he was ready for a "no war" pact with India, going beyond New Delhi's proposal for "no first use" of nuclear weapons by the two fractious South Asian neighbours.

"I am ready to go one step ahead for a 'no war' pact," Musharraf told the Indian channel ahead of his mid-July historic trip to India for peace talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The Pakistani offer was however dismissed by the Indian foreign ministry as an old proposition. Khan said details of such a proposal could be worked out once the two sides were ready to discuss it. "Naturally the pact will have in-built mechanism for the solution of disputes," he said.

The two countries have fought three wars, two of them over the long-running dispute over Kashmir, since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. The South Asian rivals declared their nuclear capablity by conducting tit-for-tat tests in May 1998, which triggered international uproar and US-led sanctions on both the countries.

"We hope there will be progress in addressing the Kashmir issue and the summit will lead to a new chapter of normal and good relations," Khan said. Pakistan is looking forward for a "positive result," he said. "If there is a will to have a summit, it is not for negative results, it is for positive results," he added.



India offers military talk
(Friday, 6 July, 2001)

The discussions are expected to centre around Kashmir. India has offered to send a senior military official to Pakistan to discuss reducing cross-border tension ahead of next weekend's summit between the two countries.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has suggested that the Indian chief of military operations could meet his Pakistani counterpart, according to foreign ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao. "We are not ruling it out before the summit," she said. The move comes despite concerns in Delhi over plans by Pakistan's military ruler, President Pervez Musharraf, to meet leading Kashmiri separatists during his visit to India. CLIP




Unwrapping Kashmir

With a few days to go before President Pervez Musharraf arrives, expectations are building up in both India and Pakistan. Musharraf will be in a position to resolve the Kashmir tangle as long as he can satisfy the armed forces and the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan has been continuously talking about seeking a solution to the Kashmir problem under the UN resolution of August 13, 1948. India’s stand is that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir — including Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) — is an integral part of India. If both parties stick to these extreme positions, no solution can be found. The Hurriyat is also depending on the UN resolution, which, in ‘part C’, talks about asserting the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine the future status of the state. CLIP



Worlds Apart In Kashmir - Pakistanis in Riven Region Expect Little in India Talks

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan Half a century ago, a twisting mountain highway united this remote Kashmiri city with Srinagar, Kashmir's scenic tourist mecca 75 miles to the east. Trucks carrying apples and timber plied the route, and three bus companies ferried visitors daily between the two stops. Today, Srinagar might as well be on another planet. In 1947, when Pakistan was created, the Kashmir region was split in two and Srinagar became part of India. The road is now closed at the border, known as the Line of Control, and Indian and Pakistani troops regularly shell each other across a no man's land of barbed wire scrolls. Kashmiris here, many of whom have not seen their relatives from Srinagar in decades, still dream of the day the road will reopen. A few dare to hope that bus service between the two cities will resume as a result of the July 14-16 summit in Agra, India, between Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and India's prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "My father took me to Srinagar on the bus when I was 9. I remember the good food and the beautiful gardens," recalled Qazi Ghulam Murtazar, 63, a pharmacist and mosque leader. "If the road were open today, we would all want to visit. But if Vajpayee and Musharraf don't find a solution," he vowed, "we Kashmiris will liberate it from India ourselves." In other parts of Pakistan, many people hope the upcoming summit will bring a miraculous breakthrough in the stubborn, exhausting problem of Kashmir. Both countries claim the region, and they have fought two wars over it. Since 1990, the Indian portion has been wracked by violence between security forces and Pakistan-backed insurgents, claiming tens of thousands of lives. But in this hardscrabble mountain region, which hosts tens of thousands of refugees from Indian Kashmir and sponsors clandestine training camps for Kashmiri guerrillas, people's opinions are set in the stone of suspicion and bitterness. CLIP



Fresh hope for Kashmir?

Full Coverage on the Kashmir Dispute

4. Peace Watch for Macedonia

See also our previous Meditation Focus #35: Urgent Need for Peace in Macedonia


Cease-Fire Holds in Macedonia
(Friday July 6)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - While soldiers' guns fell quiet on the first day of a cease-fire, citizens frustrated with the insurgency by ethnic Albanian rebels vented their frustration Friday at the U.S. ambassador while he visited the city of Tetovo. The episode underlines the tense atmosphere - even amid a cessation of hostility - in which U.S. and European Union envoys are trying to establish a political framework they hope will transform the cease-fire into a lasting peace.


Despite the Macedonian government's refusal to negotiate with the rebels, there are still some segments of Macedonian society that feel officials have not taken a hard enough line, characterizing any cease-fire as an unnecessary concession.

A German army convoy was fired on Thursday night, three hours before the cease-fire, about six miles west of Skopje. Two of the vehicles were hit, one in a wheel, another in a rear window, but no one was hurt, a NATO spokesman said. It was unclear who fired the shots, but the incident was some distance from any front line.

Also shortly before the deadline, rebels rained mortars down on Tetovo, striking buildings and injuring 11 civilians. Government forces responded mightily, unleashing warplanes, helicopters and armored personnel carriers on the rebels lodged in villages surrounding the city.

Despite the display of bravado, which some observers believe was an attempt to establish territorial lines before the cease-fire took effect, the guns fell silent several hours after the deadline.

The cease-fire gave U.S. envoy James Pardew and his EU counterpart, Francois Leotard, a window of calm to work out details of a political framework addressing ethnic Albanian demands for more recognition and inclusion in Macedonian society. The envoys spent Friday shuttling among political parties, encouraging them to maintain restraint to allow political progress.

Ethnic Albanians, who make up about a third of Macedonia's 2 million people, are seeking broader use of their language in official business and proportional representation in state institutions, among other demands.



Envoys Hand Over Macedonian Plan
(Saturday July 7)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - Hoping to turn a cease-fire into permanent peace, international envoys Saturday handed the framework of an ethnic reconciliation plan to the president and party leaders in the mixed Macedonian Slav and ethnic Albanian government.

European Union envoy Francois Leotard emphasized that the plan, based on a draft constitution written by a French legal expert, was just the beginning of an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement and end an ethnic Albanian insurgency that threatens to drag Macedonia into civil war.

``It is the basis for further negotiations. Now, we need to have ... comments and amendments to this document,'' Leotard told reporters, adding that Macedonian parties were expected to discuss it Monday. American envoy James Pardew called the draft as a ``comprehensive framework.''

Details were not released, but a Macedonian involved in the process said the document includes constitutional changes that would strengthen local government and expand the official use of the Albanian language.

One of the most contentious issues - how to give the Macedonian Albanian minority more influence over legislation - will be addressed later, said the Macedonian, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Q&A: Macedonia conflict explained (BBC)

Graphic: Key players, facts

Full Coverage on the Conflict in Macedonia

5. Peace Watch for Northern Ireland


Mitchell: Mideast, N.Irish Peace Plans Still Alive
George Mitchell, the former U.S. senator turned high-level intermediary, said on Friday reports of the death of peace plans for the Middle East and Northern Ireland were premature.


The 1998 Good Friday accord in Northern Ireland, orchestrated by Mitchell, is equally hamstrung over the failure of the Irish Republican Army (news - web sites), the outlawed guerrilla ally of the nationalist Sinn Fein party, to live up to a commitment to disarm after a long struggle against British rule.

Mitchell said he hoped the British and Northern Irish governments could work out a solution to the IRA weapons decommissioning issue so that Northern Ireland's David Trimble could reverse his recent resignation as first minister. Trimble, a pro-London Ulster Unionist leader, quit this week over what he viewed as a stubborn IRA refusal to disarm.

His resignation set off a six-week countdown to an Irish Assembly vote on a new government leader. Lack of agreement would force new elections to be held, or ultimately lead to a return to direct rule from London.



British Army Erects Protestant Barrier
With the future of Northern Ireland's peace pact in doubt, British army engineers erected miles of barbed-wire barricades Saturday on the eve of an annual Protestant march that has erupted into violence in the past. CLIP,3604,518148,00.html
Tension high over Orange parade


6. Peace Watch for Sudan

See also our previous Meditation Focus #17: Humanitarian Crisis and War in Sudan
at and
Extension of our previous focus on the Sudan Conflict


Rebels welcome Sudan peace plan
(Thursday, 5 July, 2001)

Rebels have been fighting for autonomy since 1983 The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has given a cautious welcome to the latest Libyan-Egyptian initiative aimed at ending Sudan's 18-year civil war.

SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje told the BBC that the initiative enhanced the prospects for peace. On Wednesday, the Sudanese Government followed the opposition in announcing that it had also accepted the plan.

The initiative calls on both sides - the government and the opposition - to set up a committee leading to a national reconciliation conference. The plan also calls for constitutional reforms and a transitional government.

Mr Kwaje did caution that he thought the peace plan should be merged with that of the East African regional grouping, IGAD. And he added that it should also address SPLA demands for self-determination and include a constitutional separation between religion and state.

No referendum

The initiative does not include the key SPLA demand of a referendum on self-determination for the southern part of Sudan. Unlike the Muslim north, Sudan's southerners are mostly Christians and animists. They have little in common culturally with the north and they have spent the last 18 years fighting for greater autonomy.

Analysts say it is too early to tell what kind of a deal they will eventually win from the central government in Khartoum. But one commentator remarked that the Libyan-Egyptian initiative could be the last chance for peace in Sudan.



Al-Bashir vows to end the war -- Sudan, Politics, 7/2/2001
The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced he will dedicate the next year 2002 of his rule in an attempt to put an end to the civil war and to establish peace in Sudan. CLIP


Rival Movements Now Call for Cessation of Hostilities

Participants at the Sudan peace talks here last week resolved that all movements should immediately cease hostilities amongst themselves and commit to open dialogue to resolve political differences.


"Exploration and exploitation of oil should cease until there is a comprehensive and just peace The practice of enslavement and trade in human beings must be condemned and halted by all elements of Sudanese society and the international community," they resolved.

Full Coverage on Sudan

7. Latest developments related to the ongoing Meditation Focus on the Middle East Crisis


Mitchell: Mideast, N.Irish Peace Plans Still Alive
(Friday July 6)

INTERLAKEN, Switzerland (Reuters) - George Mitchell, the former U.S. senator turned high-level intermediary, said on Friday reports of the death of peace plans for the Middle East and Northern Ireland were premature. Speaking to reporters after addressing a business conference in the Swiss resort of Interlaken, Mitchell urged parties in the long-running and bloody conflicts to keep plugging away at joint efforts to bring about peace.

``You have to view it over a longer step forward, one backward, one sideways, and that is what is happening...People cannot get discouraged by failure along the way,'' he said. A Mitchell-led committee drafted a Middle East peace plan, calling for a truce and cooling-off period followed by confidence-building moves, such as an Israeli freeze on building Jewish settlements, and a resumption of peace talks.

The U.S.-backed plan has increasingly been seen as moribund, with violence continuing on both sides. Mitchell said he had no plans to get directly involved in the Middle East conflict again soon. He said it was now up to the United States to use its influence in the Middle East in coordination with the European Union and the United Nations to get the plan implemented. CLIP



Peres warns of ceasefire 'crisis'
(Tuesday, 3 July, 2001)

The violence has continued despite the ceasefire Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, has warned that the ceasefire agreement with the Palestinians is in "deep crisis". He demanded that Jewish settler outposts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be removed, describing them as illegal and a flagrant political mistake. He also warned that a total breakdown in the ceasefire would lead to more victims and bloodshed on both sides.

Mr Peres, a relative moderate in the hardline Israeli Government, indicated that he might step down if his colleagues did not stop trying to undermine Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's leadership. "If I am not allowed to carry out the foreign policy I believe in, there's no point in me being foreign minister," he said.

The ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was brokered by the United States three weeks ago. Mr Peres's comments came as Israel held a security cabinet meeting to try to decide how best to tackle the violence which has continued in the region, despite the US-brokered ceasefire agreement. At the meeting, the cabinet agreed to continue what it calls a policy of restraint.

But ministers also reserved the right to undertake targeted attacks on Palestinian militants - a policy defended by the Israeli army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz, on a visit to Washington.

"I believe we have the right to defend ourselves," he said, arguing that other countries would do the same if they had faced nine months of "terror activity and violence". The Palestinians say Israel's on-going assassination policy is a gross violation of the ceasefire.

Hopes fade

But both Israel and the United States say the Palestinians have not done enough to end the violence. Correspondents say frustrated US officials have privately conceded that there is currently little chance of achieving the planned week-long cessation of violence followed by a further six weeks of calm. CLIP

In all, 15 Palestinians and nine Israelis have been killed since the warring parties adopted the truce, brokered by US CIA Director George Tenet, on 13 June.



Mid-East truce 'close to collapse'
(Monday, 2 July, 2001)

The blasts were the first inside Israel for several weeks. The Middle East is on the brink of a new crisis as the fragile truce agreed between Israel and the Palestinians is undermined by fresh violence, the United Nations has warned.


In a separate development, Israel launched a series of air strikes against Syrian targets inside Lebanon over the weekend in retaliation for the shelling of Israeli positions by Hezbollah militants.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed that a week-long test period was needed to see if the Palestinians were ready to comply with the US-brokered ceasefire. But the Israelis and Palestinians disagree sharply over the agreement's timetable.

Under the plan, the week without violence is intended to lead to six weeks of cooling off, followed by confidence-building measures. The Israelis insist the period of calm has yet to begin, while Mr Arafat said the seven-day countdown began last Wednesday.



Israeli army gets green light for tough measures

JERUSALEM, July 4 (AFP) - The Israeli security cabinet on Wednesday gave the army the green light to toughen its response against Palestinians in the wake of ongoing anti-Israeli attacks, a cabinet minister told army radio. "The security cabinet decided to toughen the methods and the reactions of the Israeli army following the latest attacks," Labour and Social Affairs Minister Shlomo Benizri said.



Drought of Biblical Scale Worsens
(Friday July 6)

TIBERIAS, Israel (AP) - The Sea of Galilee, the biblical lake where Jesus walked on water, has been pumped almost to its limit. It is now so low that salt deposits endanger its sweet water. Broad mud flats and odd little islands deface the placid expanse of blue that until just a few years ago lapped at old stone walls.

Israel's other main sources, aquifers marbled within mountains and along the Mediterranean coast, are depleted by the worst drought in a century. They are being tapped much faster than engineers advise. With all of their other problems, Israelis and Palestinians are running out of water.

``We're worried, very worried,'' said Zvi Stuhl, senior engineer at Mekorot, Israel's water company. He oversees the National Water Carrier, which has supplied homes and made deserts bloom for 37 years.

Against a backdrop of fresh conflict, water politics are paramount. Arabs receive a fraction of what goes to Jews, which adds hard immediacy to the slow process of making peace. Israelis say their advanced society, with its developed economy, needs more water. Palestinians argue that the water shortage blocks their development.

The imbalances are striking. In the West Bank, some Palestinians trudge long distances for water, at times within earshot of youths frolicking in the swimming pools of Jewish settlements built in their midst.

In the Gaza Strip, a few thousand Jewish settlers have ample water piped from Israel while a million Palestinians pump the last drinkable dregs of underground rivers polluted by encroaching seawater and sewage.

``You cannot talk about peace while you have this discrimination on the ground,'' said Ayman Rabi, executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group. ``Every day, the problem is getting worse.''



Sharon Finds Europe at Odds with Israeli Policy
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned home from a lightning trip to Europe on Friday acknowledging disagreement with European leaders over Israel's strong-arm policies against the Palestinians. CLIP



US, EU would not allow Middle East war, says Lebanese leader

BEIRUT, July 6 (AFP) - Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri Friday ruled out the possibility of a new war in the Middle East, saying the United States and the European Union would refuse to let one take place. "I rule out the possibility that there could be war in the region because the great powers -- the European Union and the United States -- will not allow it to break out," Hariri told a group of 700 Lebanese businessmen gathered for a symposium on globalisation. CLIP

Mubarak calls for deploying int'l observers in Palestinian territories - Arabic News (Jul 6, 2001)

Full Coverage on Israel

Full Coverage on the Middle East Peace Process

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