ANP sees no possibility of Kashmir settlement
19 September 2004
Lahore: The Awami National Party (ANP) does not see possibility of a solution to the Kashmir issue as long as the present political set-up exists in Pakistan and India, despite claims of both the governments to the contrary. The United States has its own interest in the region and does not want to see the dispute settled, it says. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi both are not influential enough to take a decision on Kashmir, occupied by New Delhi for the last 57 years, it observes. A delegation of the ANP, whose leaders are considered allies of the Congress since the pre- partition era, recently visited India to felicitate Congress leaders on their electoral win. Party secretary-general Ehsan Wyne thinks that Mr Singh is from the Sikh minority while Mrs Gandhi is of Italian origin and both are on the defensive due to the BJP propaganda and unable to take any basic decision against popular opinion. The situation is no different in Pakistan where the army, with vested interests for maintaining status quo on the issue, is calling the shots instead of political forces, he says. 'Army generals know that after the dispute is settled there will be no excuse for maintaining such a huge structure of the armed forces.' The Kashmir problem needs people of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who could adopt a give-and-take policy to solve it, Wyne says. The US is working to make the Line of Control (LoC) international border so that the Silk Route (Karakuram Highway) does not become a safe link to China for the rest of the world, he alleges. Urging political parties in Pakistan and India to put pressure on their respective governments to solve the issue, the ANP leader says the people-to-people contact will not work. 'It is just a picnic plan as long as political parties, media and intellectuals in the neighbouring states do not force their respective governments to come to terms on the matter which is consuming resources of the region leaving nothing for the poor masses.'