December 2004 News

India proposes Kashmiris’ reunion at 5 LoC points

28 December 2004
The News International

Islamabad: India is ready to unchain the Line of Control (LoC) at five places to facilitate reunion of divided Kashmiri families, said Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran here on Tuesday. While talking to journalists at the end of two-day foreign secretary-level talks he offered Pakistan to make the LoC 'soft' to boost humanitarian confidence building measures before addressing the disputed issue of Kashmir. 'We have put forward a proposal for reunion of relatives and families under joint arrangements at five designated places (in held Kashmir) namely Mundhar, Poonch, Suchetgarh, Uri and Tanggarh. We can work out some official arrangements with Pakistan to do this activity on the LoC even on weekly basis to enable these families to have reunions on regular basis,' he said. Replying to a question, Saran said Pakistan had not replied to this proposal, but Islamabad had promised to examine it and give its official reaction to New Delhi afterwards. Saran did not forget to remind Islamabad that New Delhi was not satisfied with the efforts of Pakistan to stop 'terrorism' in held Kashmir and asked President Pervez Musharraf to fulfil his commitment made with former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on January 6 this year. Saran said there was a strong possibility that at some later stage both Pakistan and India join hands to fight terrorism that was affecting both the countries in a different way. 'The phenomenon of terrorism is not a threat to India only but to Pakistan as well. That is why we both have common objective of fighting terrorism,' he added. Replying to a question about the fencing of the LoC, he said it was done to protect the lives of Indians who were potential target of terrorism and it was the basic job of every government to protect its citizens, their lives and properties. He said there was nothing unusual as far as fencing of the LoC was concerned. When asked about conventional and nuclear CBMs, he said: 'We have discussion on the issue of pre-notification of missile tests and are narrowing down our differences.' About the Kashmir issue, the Indian foreign secretary said it was wrong to assume that India was avoiding discussions on this issue. Rather, he said, their efforts have been to find areas of convergence despite having differences on many issues. To another question, he said so far Pakistan had not given any option to New Delhi to resolve the issue of Kashmir. 'Whenever, we get any official proposal over Kashmir, we will give our reaction,' he said. He said: 'We are pragmatic and practical and agreed to move forward despite certain reservations. We are involved in a process over Kashmir and it will go step by step. This is integral to our quest for solution to this issue,' he said. He said: 'We do appreciate the fact that there is a difference of opinion between the two countries. Instead of reiterating our positions, we can find convergence and we believe we are making some progress.' He said that to resolve the Kashmir issue, both Pakistan and India need support of the peoples of the two countries. He said he was satisfied with the outcome of his talks with Pakistani officials and going back to India with optimism. He said Pakistan was sincere in finding solution to the Kashmir problem. He also listed many steps to make easy the lives of civilians arrested in either country for crossing the border inadvertently.


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