August 2004 News

Indian official calls for US intervention in Kashmir

9 August 2004
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: A senior Indian bureaucrat, calling for active American intervention in the region, has maintained that the recent endavour for peace taken by the governments of India and Pakistan would not succeed unless political violence in Kashmir is substantially reduced.Wajahat Habibullah, who has served at top posts in Kashmir for years and has been designated union secretary in the textile ministry here, has said that an active American intervention, revitalisation of economy and addressing political aspirations of Kashmiris are antidotes to the problems in Jammu and Kashmir.In his recently completed studies for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Wajahat, also a close confidante of Congress President Sonia Gandhi's family, has candidly admitted the follies of various Indian governments. He believes that the United States could play a 'crucial role' as a facilitator in resolving the Jammu and Kashmir issue keeping in view the 'deep mistrust that Kashmiris have of India and their growing mistrust of Pakistan'. He says unlike in other Muslim countries, Kashmiris regard the United States as an honest broker.Arguing for opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, Wajahat pointed out that reopening the roads currently blocked on both sides of the border was one simple measure to ameliorate sufferings of people. He says the Indian government has also been discouraging foreign involvement in Jammu and Kashmir, which reinforces the commerce-friendly Kashmiris' feeling of being prisoners. Kashmiris, he says, are excellent entrepreneurs and the opening of this road will help them exhibit their skills.He asked the governments in both parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to grant their people freedom, not merely by granting elections but also by rolling back restrictions on business, terminating government monopolies in trade and commerce, and encouraging international investment by bodies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.


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