India and Pakistan Agree to Share Kashmir in Joint Custody Arrangement

Srinagar, Kashmir, May 29, 2011 -- High-level diplomatic representatives of India and Pakistan announced today the successful conclusion of a dramatic final round of talks over the fate of the disputed Kashmir region. Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan each claim varying degrees of sovereignty, will under the terms of the new agreement be shared equally between the countries in a joint custody arrangement.

The terms call for India to have possession of the entire region on weekdays, while Pakistan will exercise sovereignty on weekends and summer holidays. Representatives of both countries said they were "very pleased, and thank the many lawyers and judges who helped to negotiate and codify the agreement."

Kashmir is viewed by many as one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes in the world, with sweeping, fertile valleys flanked by dramatic mountain peaks speckled by sure-footed mountain goats, a local delicacy in stew. Various regions of Kashmir have been administered by Pakistan, India and China over the past several decades, with India claiming the entire region, Pakistan claiming about half, and China clamouring vainly to be included in discussions because, according to Li Zhaoxing, China's Foreign Minister, "Pakistan cede us Trans-Karakoram Tract all the way back in 1963, damn it -- we have deed right here. Why does no one ever mention us?"

Violence over the disputed area has been a continual source of tension between India and Pakistan for decades, leading to three major wars, a rapidly escalating nuclear arms race, frequent secessionist violence by some independence-advocating Kashmiris, and the regular exchange of Molotov cocktails, mortar fire, and gratuitous insults over each others' cooking.

"The insults are the most unforgivable," said Zaheer Khan, a villager who lives in a section of Kashmir claimed and administered by India, very close to the giant dotted line separating the disputed regions. "The Pakistanis say I use too much coriander in the mountain goat stew. How can you make mountain goat stew without coriander? It is bland city, without coriander. I spit upon their bland stew."

Pakistani and Indian government officials hope the new custody agreement will help diffuse any remaining tensions between the two countries, but admit there remains a long diplomatic road ahead.

"It is like in that movie, Kramer vs. Kramer, with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep," said Mahendra Singh Dhoni, an Indian parliamentarian and chief negotiator of the agreement. "Kashmir is the little boy, and the little boy does not want to live with only his mommy or daddy. He wants to live with both, but just not at the same time. Some would say he doesn't want to live with either one, but he must—he is just a little boy, only sometimes with explosives. So we have had our disagreement, like Kramer and Kramer in the courtroom. It was very moving, especially when the little boy began to cry. And when Hoffman spoke about the child's fever—I cried then, myself. And now we have decided. But instead of the little boy going to live with Meryl Streep, Kashmir will become the child of both parents, and we will tend him equally."

The agreement stipulates that Kashmir will be furnished with "clothes, books, toys and presents" equally by both India and Pakistan, while India will be solely responsible for the region's education.

"We hope Kashmir does not choose to go to an Ivy League college," joked Mr. Dhoni. "That just might break the bank."

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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