April 2005 News

Pakistan seeking progress on Kashmir through Track II

8 April 2005
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: Pakistan is seeking 'visible progress' on the Kashmir issue through Track-II diplomacy, as a group of former Pakistani diplomats held talks with External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and top officials from Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the foreign ministry on Friday, sources said.Sources said the Pakistani delegation is visiting India on President Pervez Musharraf's initiative with the aim to set some kind of agenda and also to discuss possible confidence building measures (CBMs) before the Pakistani leader's 'informal summit' with the Indian leaders on April 16 when he arrives in Delhi on a three-day visit. He will watch a one-day cricket match between Pakistan and India on April 17. However, the match has been pushed into the background and the focus will now be on the peace process and how the two sides can find ways to show 'progress' on Kashmir.Led by Khalid Mehmood, Pakistan's former acting foreign secretary and ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the delegation argued in its talks with the Indian foreign minister and PMO officials that 'some movement' was necessary on the Kashmir front to keep the peace process on track. They also asked the Indian government to reciprocate President Musharraf's 'bold decisions' which were otherwise unpopular. 'Therefore, some visible movement is necessary to sustain public interest in peace,' sources quoted them as saying. Khalid Mehmood said that the Indian foreign minister appreciated their stance. The Pakistani team leader said he hoped that there would be some progress on the Kashmir issue.The Pakistani delegation included Akram Zaki, Tariq Fatmi, Kaleem Sidiqui, Khalid Saleem and MF Rahman Akbar.News reports also had it that Tariq Aziz, Pakistan's National Security secretary and President Musharraf's close aide, met Satish Kumar Lamba, Indian prime minister's envoy, in Dubai on Thursday. Indian Army commanders' conference on Friday decided that while military operations against militants would continue, CBMs like the reduction of troops and withdrawal of forces from civilian and commercial areas in Kashmir might be adopted. The announcement may be timed to coincide with President Musharraf's visit.'Agreeing that the infiltration has fallen to nearly zero along the Line of Control, the Indian leadership wants to raise the 'cross border terrorism' issue with President Musharraf and could extract a promise that militants will not be allowed to use Azad Kashmir for attacks,' sources said.


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