May 2003 News

Gen Finds A Surprise Supporter In Valley

4 May 2003
The Indian Express

Srinagar: His ideas for conflict resolution may not find takers elsewhere. But in the Valley, no less than the state's Law and Finance Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig applauds Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's 'reformist' plans to resolve the intractable Kashmir issue. In a meeting with Centre's interlocutor on Kashmir N.N. Vohra last week, the People's Democratic Party delegation headed by Beig backed Musharraf's roadmap. Disclosing the details of meeting with Vohra, Beig told a press meet that in light of Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee's description of Kashmir as a 50-year-old problem, recourse could be taken to Musharraf's plan to resolve the problem of Kashmir. 'We told Vohra that if people come to the table by stating their positions in advance it would be a conditional talk and many may feel uncomfortable. We suggested to him General Musharraf's statement that asks parties to come to the table and talk about their positions excluding what isn't possible and what is totally unacceptable to other side and move like the Ireland peace plan from maximum disagreement to minimum disagreement,' Beig noted. Asked by Vohra how it could be translated in Jammu and Kashmir, Beig said that India and Pakistan should publicly commit themselves to resolving the issue in 10 to 15 years. 'We told that immediately channels of communication like the Uri road and Jammu road to Pakistan should be opened for easy movement. Free trade should be encouraged apart from encouraging social and cultural pursuits. We thought it would be a matter of two to three years to translate the environment of distrust and hatred into environment of understanding,' Beig added. Taking a dig at the Centre's incoherent Kashmir policy, Beig said several agencies are involved in the state who are more keen on guarding their turf than any attempt at dealing with Kashmir problem. Beig however, drew consolation from the PM's statement. He said it was a departure from earlier refrain that Kashmir was a cross border problem. 'It was a bold statement. The PM spoke genuinely from heart. There would be a serious and substantial increase in allocation of funds to the state. We hope it translates into gains for the state,' Beig explained.


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