New Delhi has turned down the offers of “mediation” in the Kashmir issue by former Norwegian Prime Minister.
• Former Norway PM Bondevik visited Srinagar, met with the separatist leaders there and, went on to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).
• While the visit has fuelled much speculation about the possibility of a new peace effort, Govt. of India has turned down offers of “mediation” in the Kashmir issue.
Why Norway took this Initiative?
• History of playing peacemaker: Norway has 25-year history of playing peacemaker across the world.
• Peacemaker in Africa: Norway has also provided technical and financial assistance to peace processes in Aceh, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Syria
• Around the globe: The country has been involved since 1993 in countries as far apart and as different as Afghanistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Myanmar, Nepal, Israel and Palestine, the Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
• The presence of a large Kashmiri diaspora in Norway, and in other Scandinavian countries, is also a factor.
Criticism of Norwegian Led Peace Efforts:
• Few positive outcomes: In recent years, there has been criticism within Norway of peace diplomacy, especially as there were few positive outcomes.
• The Oslo Accords did not lead to a two-state settlement in the Middle East as envisaged.
• In Sri Lanka, the ceasefire mediated by Norway broke down, and led to the termination of its role by the Sri Lankan government.
• Norway’s own interests: Some critics have also argued that Norway promotes its own narrow interest and projects itself as a bigger player than it is on the international stage — the 1993 Oslo Accords and the process that led up to it gave Norway access to the highest levels in the US State Department; the Sri Lankan effort brought it closer to GOI.
India’s Stand on Mediation:
• No change in Government’s position: There is no change in the government’s consistent and principled position that under the Shimla Agreement (1972) and as reiterated in the Lahore Declaration (1999), both India and Pakistan are committed to address all outstanding issues bilaterally. There is no scope for any third party role or mediation.
• In times of India-Pakistan crisis since the agreement, world powers, especially the United States, have intervened to calm the situation, but India has never accepted mediation. This is particularly so in matters relating to the Kashmir issue.