No more flexibility on Kashmir
2 August 2004
Lahore: Pakistan has told India that it would show no more flexibility on Kashmir and other bilateral issues as it has already done more than enough for the success of peace process. According to sources this was stated by Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar during their briefing to the top Kashmiri leadership at the Foreign Office Monday. The Kashmiri leaders who were invited to the briefing included President and Prime Minister Azad Kashmir, Sardar Anwar Khan and Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, President Muslim Conference Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Amir JI (AJK), Sardar Eijaz Afzal, President Jammu and Kashmir People's Party Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, former President AJK Gen (Retd) Hayat Khan and APHC (AJK) Convener Farooq Rehmani. Indian authorities have been told that Pakistan has taken host of confidencebuilding measures to resolve the Kashmir and other bilateral issues and now the ball is in the court of New Delhi, a Kashmiri leader who was present on the occasion quoted the Pakistani officials as having informed the participants of the briefing. The foreign minister said Islamabad had raised the issue of 'timeframe' for the resolution of Kashmir problem with India during the meeting of President Musharraf and Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and on various other occasions. However, according to the sources, he admitted that New Delhi had so far not accepted this demand on the part of Islamabad. Kasuri expressed the hope that India would come with its position on the matter during the meetings between foreign secretaries and foreign ministers in September this year. The senior officials in the Foreign Office admitted that India has so far not given any clear indication that it is prepared for the just and durable solution of Kashmir issue, the sources said. At this the Kashmiri leaders unanimously urged the Pakistani authorities to take a firm stand on Kashmir and stress more for the implementation of United Nations resolutions that give the right of selfdetermination to Kashmiri people, said a source. On the issue of inclusion of Kashmiris in the Pak-India dialogue, Foreign Minister Kasuri said we have told the Indians in plain words that the talks will remain meaningless as long as the Kashmiris are kept outside. However, the Indians are not ready to accept this contention of Islamabad but despite that Pakistan would continue with its efforts to bring the Kashmiri people on board, said Kasuri said. The Pakistani officials told the Kashmiri leaders that the talks with India so far on various issued have not been substantial in terms of results and it is merely a beginning of the continued dialogue process, the sources said. The Pakistani government also impressed upon the Indian authorities to go for Kashmir-specific CBMs such as abolition of POTA and other suppressive laws in Held Kashmir and immediate release of political Kashmiri detainees. The Indians have been asked to set free those Kashmiri prisoners who have already been acquitted by courts but they are still languishing in various prisons, the sources said. Moreover, Pakistan has also expressed its concern about the increase of human rights violations in Held Kashmir, especially after the beginning of peace process, they added. Some of the Kashmiri leaders expressed their dismay over what they said insufficient measures by Islamabad to ensure release of the two Pakistanis abducted and later killed in Iraq. However, the foreign minister disagreed with their contention saying Pakistan did what was possible to avert the unfortunate incident. According to the sources, he said at present their is no effective government in Iraq and in order to avert any such incidents in future some other channels are being activated such as contacts with Iraqi Ulema and influential people there.