May 2004 News

Pakistan Reiterates Centrality Of Kashmir Issue For Peace In S. Asia

29 May 2004

Islamabad: Pakistan Saturday reiterated the centrality of the Kashmir dispute for a genuine peace in South Asia and said the Sino-India model to deal with border issues is not fit in with the Kashmir issue, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan. 'All India-Pakistan differences center on Kashmir. A quest for the solution of this problem is the key to a genuine detente, a sustainable rapprochement, and a peaceful neighborhood,' Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said. Responding to the remarks by India's External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh published Friday in an Indian newspaper, Masood said 'The (Kashmir) issue can not be sidelined.' 'The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is not a border issue; it is notabout empty spaces. It is about the aspirations and political future of the 13 million Kashmiris living in a territory that is roughly 85,000 square miles,' said Masood. He noted that the two models are, therefore, not comparable although the Sino-India model may be good in its own right. 'The question is not of putting the Kashmir issue on the backburner or the forntburner,' said Masood, adding the object lesson is that it can not be swept under the carpet. Masood stressed the real issue is to find a solution that is acceptable to all parties concerned and could be implemented. In an interview with The Hindustan Times, Singh said he wanted to revamp ties with Pakistan along with lines of New Delhi's relationship with Beijing. 'Pakistan is close to China and so is India. So why don't we follow the same example? We're saying don't forget Kashmir (but) keep it aside for faster progress on other issues,' said the foreign minister. But he said he was not asking Islamabad to put the issue of Kashmir on a backburner.


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