US Senators Call For Greater Peace Efforts On Kashmir
25 July 2003
The Times of India
Washington DC: Two prominent US lawmakers have expressed concern at violence in Jammu and Kashmir and urged India and Pakistan to step up peace efforts to resolve the conflict. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, and Congressman Joseph Pitts, a Republican, were addressing an 'international conference' on Kashmir organised here on Thursday by the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers and the pro-Pakistan Kashmiri American Council 'to explore the varying perspectives on Kashmir' in the light of recent developments. Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh did not accept an invitation to address the conference as the objectives of the conference was to advance Pakistan's Kashmir agenda, according to Indian diplomatic sources. Harkin, in his inaugural remarks, said the latest violent incident in Kashmir, demonstrated the urgency of the situation. He welcomed the thaw in India-Pakistan relations, especially the exchange of high commissioners and parliamentary and business delegations as well as the resumption of the New Delhi-Lahore bus service. But Harkin said the leaders of the two countries had to include Kashmir in their parleys. The senator, who spoke of the missed opportunities to usher in peace in the region, said: 'Till this issue (Kashmir) is resolved, no one in the South Asian continent is secure. I am hopeful that the leaders of India and Pakistan will seize the moment at hand to take concrete steps for the resolution of this conflict.' 'I know a solution will not be easy, but continued dialogue will help move this process forward and, despite many setbacks, a peaceful solution can and will be found,' he said. Harkin said he has been working for a peaceful resolution of the conflict for quite some time. In June 1998, he introduced a sense-of-the-Senate resolution urging the US government to promote peace and stability in the region and assist in the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Pitts said, 'The goal of the conference is to explore the varying perspectives of the Kashmir issue as well as to discuss avenues of a dialogue and other means for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.' 'The tension over Kashmir needs to be resolved sooner rather than later, not only, and importantly, to end the humanitarian suffering but also to end opportunities for mavericks on any side of the issue to continue the violence for their own ends,' he said.