Move to hold conference on both sides of LoC
8 October 2004
Srinagar: A pro-independence veteran Kashmiri politician said on Friday he had revived his plan to hold an intra-Kashmir conference soon to ponder over ways for a peaceful solution of the 57-year-old dispute. Mr G.M. Shah, a former chief minister of the Indian-held Kashmir, told a group of Pakistani journalists that his Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference party had conveyed the proposal also to President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday and asked them to facilitate the planned sessions of the conference on both sides of the Line of Control. He said he would announce within a few days a schedule for the conference whose first two sessions would be held in Srinagar and Jammu to be followed by a couple of similar gatherings in Azad Kashmir. A statement issued by Mr Shah's party said the objective of the conference would be to consider all proposals and possibilities in the context of social, religious, political, (and) ethnic dimensions and come up with practically feasible and politically workable recommendations for a resolution of the problem. Mr Shah called his proposal 'the mother of all confidence-building measures' taken by India and Pakistan to date. Winds of change were sweeping the sub-continent and the flurry of peace proposals had given a fresh ray of hope to the people of blood-stained Kashmir, the statement said. Mr Shah said identical letters for President Musharraf and Mr Singh were delivered on Thursday at the Pakistani embassy and the Indian prime minister's office in New Delhi, appealing to them to take a liberal view of the situation and facilitate the participation of delegates in the conference from either side of the LoC and abroad. The brief chat with Mr Shah was the last of a series of meetings the Pakistani journalists had held with political leaders and groups in the Indian- held Kashmir during a path-breaking trip to the region organized by the South Asian Free Media Association.