December 2003 News

Both Pakistan, India opposed to Kashmir's independence

20 December 2003
The Daily Times
Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Both India and Pakistan have one thing in common when it comes to Kashmir they are equally opposed to its independence, according to Mervin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute.Mr Weinbaum, a professor emeritus of the University of Chicago and until recently part of the State Department's South Asia bureau, told Daily Times on Saturday that President General Pervez Musharraf's latest statement on Kashmir, in which he made a reference to Security Council resolutions, was carefully worded. The president did not exactly say what his 'bottom line' was. However, the essence of his message was that Pakistan was willing to be 'flexible' on Kashmir. The two sides would now have to explore how or where a compromise could be reached. The current Indian mood did not exactly hold out much promise but what was significant in the situation was the Gen Musharraf's explicit a desire to settle Kashmir in a spirit of compromise. That was something to be welcomed, he added.Mr Weinbaum agreed that the important thing about resolutions from the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan was the principle of Kashmiri self-determination. He said Gen Musharraf had not given up that principle. He said there were many ways of determining the will of the Kashmiri people. What was important was that their will be ascertained in a democratic manner. He said if India were to grant greater autonomy to Kashmir and open up economic opportunities that the people of the state had not been able to enjoy because of the ongoing conflict, it was possible that a 'modus vivendi' could be found that would also be acceptable to Pakistan. In the event of India granting autonomy to the Kashmiris and softening the present Line of Control so that people could come and go without hindrance, Pakistan would need to revisit its relationship with Azad Kashmir. India, however, would need to offer a deal to the Kashmiris that was attractive.Mr Weinbaum said he was disappointed at Pakistan's attitude towards the break up of the Hurriyet as there was 'clear evidence' that Pakistan did not and does not support those Kashmiris who want to talk to India. He added that a certain Pakistani agency had played a role in the Hurriyet break up and was now supporting the Gilani faction.


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