Officially speaking, President Zardari is arriving in India today (Sunday) with a private 'religious' agenda but if sources are to be believed then the Kashmir issue could well be on the menu.
It was reliably learnt that in his rather tightly scheduled meetings with the Indian leadership, President Zardari could well try pursuing a five-point undeclared agenda. The sources said that the president would probably just touch over the issues leaving it for experts to do the necessary follow-up.
It was revealed that on top of the agenda is a proposal that Kashmir be given an independent-state status under UN auspices for a specified period, after which total independence would be allowed to the disputed territory under Pak-India ratification.
Sources confided to The News here on Saturday that the second most important item on the agenda is to allow a status to India under the Pak-US-India agreement in Afghanistan for peacekeeping activity and relevant tasks.
The third item would be an agreement to restrict ground, air and sea activity of the armed forces on both sides to liquidate the decades-long exercise of watch-border as being hyper hostile.
The fourth item, sources add, is concluding an agreement for transit facility to India for Afghanistan via the Wagah-Torkham crossing points where truckers would only have to show permits issued by the authorities of the three sides (Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) for consignments.
The fifth item on the agenda is discussing prospects of two agreements. One relates to technical support to Pakistan Railways by the Indian side. The other is a Pak-India arrangement for the purchase of low-cost petroleum products and electricity.
When this correspondent approached Presidential spokesman, Senator Farhatullah Babar for comment, he was busy at the Governor House, Lahore, but late at night he texted the following response: "It is private visit for Ziarat and prayers at the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. Lunch invite by PM accepted. No structured dialogue (is scheduled)."
The five-point agenda of President Zardari, sources insisted, has not been prepared in detailed coordination with the military authorities. When asked how a civilian president could be negotiating strategic issues with the Indian government without having a nod from the military authorities, the sources said "he might be under the impression that after four years in office, he has sufficient authority to undertake such negotiations on his own."
Sources further said the president must have evolved a sense of confidence that permits him to be indulging in areas no civilian president in the past could imagine doing. "Maybe he has calculated the risk of failure of such talks and the consequences of a hostile reaction to such failure or commitments he makes in New Delhi."