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India, Pakistan had begun secret peace talks in 2004

WASHINGTON – India and Pakistan engaged in nearly three years of secret, high-level talks that narrowly missed achieving a historic breakthrough in the countries’ decades-old conflict over Kashmir, according to an account set for publication today.

The negotiations, which began in 2004, produced the outlines of an accord that would have allowed a gradual demilitarization of the disputed Himalayan province, a flash point in relations between the rivals since 1947.

The effort stalled in 2007, and the prospects for a settlement were further undermined by deadly terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November, the report said.

The peace initiative is described in an article by investigative journalist Steve Coll.

The attempt ultimately failed, not because of substantive differences, Coll writes, but because declining political fortunes left Pakistan’s then-president, Pervez Musharraf, without the clout he needed to sell the agreement at home.


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