Fazl Favours Kashmir Issue Resolution Under Simla Agreement
17 July 2003
New Delhi: JUI leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman on Thursday asked Islamabad and New Delhi to resolve their protracted dispute over Kashmir without international mediation. The call from JUI chief was a major reversal of the party's previous stand that there was little scope for bilateral negotiations over Kashmir between the two South Asian nuclear rivals. 'Kashmir is a big issue but both the countries have the Simla Agreement as a guiding principle to solve their disputes bilaterally,' Maulana Fazl, who arrived in India Tuesday, told reporters in New Delhi. He said the agreement, signed by India and Pakistan a year after their third war in 1971, stipulated that regional disputes must be resolved bilaterally. JUI has in the past called for third-party mediation in the dispute, which led to two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since 1947, without naming a preferred arbitrator. Maulana Fazl said his change of mind stemmed from the US-led war in Afghanistan. 'Whenever third-party mediation is sought, the interest of that country also comes. Why should we compromise our interests with those of any other country?' he asked. He condemned separatist violence in occupied Kashmir which has claimed more than 38,000 lives. 'Let us work towards building peace in the entire region,' Maulana Fazl said. The lawmaker is making the rare visit at the invitation of India's Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind Muslim party. He is seeking an audience with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other top leaders. There have been recent signs of a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan.-AFP Responding to a question, the JUI chief said: 'We are here to create goodwill. Let's work towards building peace in the entire region,' APP adds. 'Kashmir is a big issue and both countries have Simla Agreement as guiding principle to solve their disputes bilaterally,' Maulana Fazl stated adding there was no room for violence. 'Kashmir is a big issue and the two countries should hold dialogue for its resolution immediately,' the Maulana said, adding he was here as part of efforts of religious parties in the two countries to facilitate and foster an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood. Continuing, the JUI chief emphasized that the people of the two countries should force their respective governments to the negotiation table for the resolution of pending issues. To a question about militancy in Kashmir, Maulana Fazl said: 'Why should we get into problems. Kashmiris have a case and there is no argument about it.' 'Documentary reports like UN resolutions and the Nehru-Liaqat report are a witness to it,' the JUI chief said adding, 'now we should attempt to build a consensus so that the two governments are forced to hold a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir dispute.'