May 2004 News

Pakistan rejects Sino-India model on Kashmir

29 May 2004
The Nation

Lahore: Pakistan Saturday rejected India's proposal to resolve Kashmir issue along the lines of SinoIndia talks and insisted the longstanding valley dispute 'cannot be swept under the carpet'. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry in a response to Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh's suggestion not to prioritise Kashmir dispute in bilateral ties between the two countries, found logical fallacies to Congress-led government's approach to settle the issue. Pakistan insists to follow January this year's joint declaration that binds Islamabad and Delhi to simultaneously negotiate on all bilateral disputes, including that of territorial issue of Kashmir. The Foreign Ministry said that status quo on Kashmir dispute is not solution rather it would perpetuate the problem between Islamabad and New Delhi. 'The Indian External Affairs Minister's talk about the advisability of modeling India-Pakistan engagement along the lines of Sino-India negotiations is filled with 'logical fallacies,' said the Ministry in a rejoinder. India and China have not been able to reach a solution to their border dispute despite some progress on initiating trade links. The dispute has been lingering on between Beijing and Delhi for decades, a reference of which was made by new Indian foreign minister in his statement which Islamabad rejected on Saturday. The Ministry's spokesman Masood Khan in the statement said the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is neither a border issue nor it is about empty spaces, saying the dispute pertains to the aspirations and political future of the 13 million Kashmiri people living in a territory of roughly 85,000 square miles. Thus the two models referred by India are not comparable, Khan said, adding the Sino- India model may be good in its own right. He said the Kashmir issue is not required to look into perspective of putting the dispute on the backburner or the front-burner as the underlying object lesson is that it cannot be swept under the carpet. The spokesman said: 'The challenge is to inject vision and statesmanship into the dialogue process, invest it with strong political will, and pursue it on the basis of reciprocity in order to break the deadlock and find lasting solutions.' He said if invocation of the Simla agreement was meant to maintain the status quo, 'then that is not suggesting a solution, but a way of perpetuating the problem.' The status quo is part of the problem; it is not a solution, he further said. He said, 'It is not a question of which instrument is to be invoked selectively by which party. There are UN Security Council resolutions too, which give a clear blueprint of a solution.' The real issue is to find a solution that is acceptable to all parties and a solution that can be implemented. All India-Pakistan differences centre on Kashmir. A quest for the solution of this problem is the key to a genuine detente, a sustainable rapprochement, and a peaceful neighbourhood. The issue cannot be sidelined, Masood Khan maintained. Pakistan remains committed to the dialogue process with India which must be sustained, said Masood while recalling public statements and telephone conversations of President Musharraf and Prime Minister Jamali with the new Indian leadership as positive signals about continuity of the dialogue process.


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