July 2000 News

Pak. for U.S. as facilitator on Kashmir issue

3 July 2000
The Hindu

Calcutta: Pakistan today raked up the issue of third- party mediation in Kashmir by urging India to accept United States as a facilitator in resolving the contentious issue. ''America has a critical role to bring us together on Kashmir. Pakistan accepts such a role. India should also welcome it,'' the Pakistan''s High Commissioner to India, Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, said here. Delivering a lecture on Indo-Pakistan relations at the Netaji Research Bureau, Mr. Qazi said following the end of the cold war, the U.S. has emerged as the only super-power in the world and was best suited for a facilitator''s role. ''Record shows that over the last 50 years India and Pakistan have failed to make progress on Kashmir, while similar such issues in other parts of the world have been resolved through third-party mediation,'' he said. India has steadfastly refused to allow any third party mediation on Kashmir. Describing the Kashmir problem as the ''central issue'' between the two countries, he said ''if there is no progress on Kashmir, you cannot have genuine progress on other issues like trade and culture''. He claimed that Pakistan would not ''tolerate'' the activities of ''private armies'' on its soil, but added that Islamabad wanted to adopt a ''pragmatic approach rather than bulldoze''. Calling upon India to start a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan, he said the eight-point agenda agreed at the Foreign Secretary level talks on June 23, 1997, could form the basis for future discussions. Paying glowing tributes to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Mr. Qazi said Netaji was widely respected all over Pakistan. ''His followers in Pakistan have contributed greatly in removing the atmosphere of distrust between the two countries.''


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