Kasuri proposes pullout of military from population centres
15 March 2005
The News International
Islamabad: The pullout of the military forces from the population centres will be helpful in advancing the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan, Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri has said. Kasuri was inaugurating a two-day international seminar on 'The Kashmir imbroglio: looking towards the future' organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation here on Tuesday. He said the pullout would reassure Kashmiris of the sincerity and commitment of the two sides to resolution of the dispute. Calling the ceasefire announced by Pakistan in November last the biggest confidence-building measure, Kasuri said, the step is holding well and helped in ameliorating the sufferings of the Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control. Asking India to show reciprocal flexibility, he stressed the need for Pakistan to recognise the progress on other issues such as Baglihar Dam and Siachen while remaining focused on the core issue. He said it is possible to find a solution of Kashmir dispute if the two countries show a similar spirit of accommodation and flexibility as was exhibited in the case of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service. The foreign minister said the people of India and Pakistan are yearning for peace and certainly deserve a better deal than what they received so far. He said the two peoples and economies have great potential that could not be realised unless the two nuclear neighbours agree to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He said that every person in Pakistan and India and the international community know that Kashmir is a disputed territory, and initiation of attempts to resolve it for a durable peace in the region shows the statesmanship and courage of leaders in the two countries. Kasuri said the governments cannot and must not avoid the responsibility of demonstrating the necessary political will to eliminate the root causes of suspicion and misperception in the region. He referred to the statements of Atal Behari Vajpayee, President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this respect. He said that contacts at the highest political level in the last 14 months have rekindled the hopes and expectations of the peoples of the two countries as well as of the Jammu and Kashmir. He stressed that Kashmiris must be associated with the peace process and must be the beneficiary of a final settlement. The foreign minister said that they have impressed upon India to work out mutually acceptable modalities for associating Kashmiris with the composite dialogue. He said the dialogue offers an opportunity to achieve peaceful settlement of all issues between the two countries, including Kashmir. He said the top political leadership is playing a crucial but difficult role to sustain the process and general atmosphere in South Asia is more relaxed today. There was movement on Kashmir-related CBMs and progress on the Kashmir settlement has to move in tandem to sustain the dialogue. Kasuri said the Kashmir bus service should lead to a win-win situation for all the concerned. He said the Kashmiris have suffered a lot and since long, and will feel some comfort. He said that Delhi and Islamabad showed a great sense of responsibility and flexibility to achieve this humanitarian CBM. He said that rigidity must give way to accommodation and flexibility shown by both sides would help in finding a durable and peaceful solution. He referred to four-step approach of General Musharraf in this respect. Former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Inam-ul-Haq said that the UN Security Council resolution does not mention the instrument of accession on which India based its Kashmir policy. The UN, he said, seeks accession through plebiscite. He said that 47-year bashing of each other did not lead India or Pakistan anywhere. He said that Pakistan has started flexibility, and hoped reciprocal response from India. He said that Indian media never talked of Kashmir outside Indian Union while Pakistani media supported the UN and other options. He said that India, Pakistan and Kashmiris should hold trilateral talks and a solution is possible. Earlier in his welcome address, Dr. Perviaz Iqbal Cheema, president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute, said the seminar aimed at exploring and highlighting feasible options that can facilitate the two countries in resolving the Kashmir dispute. He said that emerging realities brought out new challenges and questions that need serious and investigative thinking. He said that linking the possible separation of Kashmir with Indian secularism did not make much sense unless one buys the argument that the edifice of Indian secularism is heavily dependent upon the retention of Kashmir. He said that secularism in India is not so weak that it would not work without Kashmir.