February 1999 News


Shabir Shah asks Indo-Pak meet to adopt CBM's with the people of J&K

18 February 1999
Press Release

Srinagar - Shabir Shah, president of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, in the interests of creating a genuine peace process in Kashmir has called upon the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan to adopt certain Confidence-Building-Measures (CBM's) with the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Shah said that the first essential CBM was not impossible: a joint Indo-Pak statement recognizing the people of Jammu & Kashmir as a party to the Kashmir dispute.

Shah opined that finally saying this unsaid truth together would build confidence in the people of Jammu & Kashmir that India and Pakistan are serious about a solution. He suggested that other steps include an end to human rights abuses, release of political prisoners, de-escalation of daily shelling along the LOC, allowing non-violent public political gatherings, allowing the opening of a road within J&K across the LOC, and allowing an open process of inter-Kashmiri dialogue. Shabir Shah predicted that if these steps were adopted it would relieve the pressure off the back of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and a conducive atmosphere for a peace process would develop.

Shabir Shah said that as long as the people of Jammu & Kashmir remain vigilant in their demand for re-unification and freedom, there was absolutely nothing to lose by encouraging and welcoming a warming of Indo-Pak relations. He further said that the people of Jammu & Kashmir could make it easier for the leaders of India and Pakistan to make peace, if they helped educate the masses of India and Pakistan about the human and economic costs of the status quo and the dividends of peace.

But Shabir Shah warned against any false hopes. Though welcoming the talks and calling upon the two Prime Ministers to get serious about peace by recognizing the rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr. Shabir Shah said that there was no sign that a break through would develop in Lahore. He explained that peace can not come about overnight and that it would be a long process through which the people of Jammu & Kashmir will have to remain encouraging of peace yet steadfast in holding to their rights and sense of justice.

Shah said that the Kashmiri people are watching and waiting to see if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee are serious about rolling up their sleeves and working for a just and lasting peace. He explained that peace was harder work than war and that it takes tremendous courage of leaders to go against the tides of ancient hatred and narrow-mindedness.

But Shabir Shah said, whatever the expectation, this event is an opportunity to demonstrate to India, Pakistan, and the world community that the people of Jammu & Kashmir are ready to take a step towards peace if India and Pakistan are ever ready to do the same. Rejecting the APHC call for a hartal on Feb. 20 to protest the talks, Shabir Shah instead appealed upon the people of Jammu & Kashmir to send a clear message to India, Pakistan, and the world community that they want India and Pakistan to improve relations so that they might start discussing real solutions which would fulfill the wishes of the people. Shah said that friendly relations between India and Pakistan was as important for peace as is the inclusion of the people of Jammu & Kashmir at the negotiating table. He said that it was unreasonable of the APHC to insist that one ingredient must come before the other.

Shabir Shah explained that by definition a real peace must be based on the foundations of justice. He expressed his belief that the realization of the birthright of the people of Jammu & Kashmir would inevitably be the cornerstone of a solution, saying that the re-unification and independence of J&K would be a savior for the human and economic development of India and Pakistan.

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