November 2002 News

US has no secret Kashmir formula

1 November 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Washington DC: Reiterating that the Kashmir issue has been the cause of three wars between India and Pakistan, Mr Richard Hass, Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department, has let it be known that Washington does not have a ‘secret’ plan to resolve the Kashmir row. The United States would like the Kashmir issue resolved diplomatically and peacefully, Mr Richard Hass told Pakistan TV in an interview yesterday. He insisted that it was up to India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir to work out a solution. Mr Hass’s visit to Pakistan followed his trip to India. Mr Hass had an important message for Islamabad, namely, the utility of the Shimla agreement in relation to the efforts for hammering out a solution to the Kashmir problem. 'You’ve got a framework here now...under Shimla (agreement) for India and Pakistan to try to work this out diplomatically'. He also had an equally important signal for New Delhi:' And, obviously, the interests and perspective of the people of Kashmir have to be taken into account'. Mr Hass emphasized that although the US was keen for a peaceful settlement of the problem, it (US) 'does not hold in its pocket any secret plan or framework for solution of the problem'. Asked if the US backed the election process in Kashmir, Mr Hass said that the US did think it was important to 'improve the quality of life for the people who live in Jammu and Kashmir'. He did admit that the elections had brought about a change in political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir. He added: 'Subsequently, you have had all sorts of negotiations and a socalled...’co-dominium’ programme has emerged, which has some interesting innovations about political inclusion'. Praising both India and Pakistan for redeploying some of their troops from their common border, Mr Hass urged the two countries to find ways to interact positively despite an absence of high-level dialogue to resolve the Kashmir dispute. 'Even if India and Pakistan are not yet ready to talk at the highest-level, I think it would be healthy for both countries to find other ways to begin to interact positively'. Some ways of doing it, he said, were re-establishing diplomatic contacts, re-establishing direct air links, rail links, bus links, 'what have you, sporting competitions'. He also recommended that the two countries should increase the bilateral trade. On infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Richard Boucher, US State Department spokesman,had, on the other hand,important information about the US Government’s admission of the fact that infiltration into Kashmir 'has gone up somewhat' but not to the previous extent. He said that infiltration 'did go down considerably' after Pakistan President, Gen. Parvez Musharraf’s assurances. He added: 'We continue to work with the Government of Pakistan to make sure that President Musharraf’s pledge to ensure that there is no infiltration going on is upheld'. 'And I think you’ve seen in recent weeks some announcements by both sides (India and Pakistan) that they were going to pull off some of the troops from their border area, not so much from the Line of Control, but some of the other areas where the tensions had gone up', he said. On the recent elections in J&K, Mr Boucher said that the US view had been and continued to be that the views of all Kashmiris were best reflected through 'an open election' in which everybody can participate. 'We welcome the election that took place. We welcome the outcome as a reflection of the desires of the Kashmiri people', he said.


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