Free travel, trade key to Kashmir settlement
14 April 2005
Karachi: The need for encouraging inter- and intra-Kashmiris interaction, particularly by removing travel and trade restrictions, for resolving the Kashmir issue was stressed by a former ambassador, Mansoor Alam, at a seminar here on Thursday. The seminar on Resolving the Kashmir Dispute was held under a programme on peace studies and conflict resolution under the auspices of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi. In his presentation, Mr Alam dwelt at length with the origin of the Kashmir dispute and examined the factors which led to a conflict and subsequently wars between Pakistan and India. While discussing possibilities of a settlement, he said that in the present circumstances, the best solution was encouraging inter- and intra- Kashmiris interaction, particularly by removing travel and trade restrictions. He was of the view that Indo-Pakistan normalization process should continue so that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir could move towards peace and stability. He said that war was not the option, nor could India and Pakistan find an alternative to the path of negotiations. In this context, he stressed that trust and confidence between New Delhi and Islamabad was a must to create an atmosphere conducive to the process of normalization and peace in Jammu and Kashmir. He also suggested that the Kashmir dispute must not undermine the Indo-Pakistan peace process. 'The international environment is supportive to a meaningful dialogue between the two countries on normalization of relations, as the world would not certainly like the Kashmir situation getting worse.' Since Pakistan and India are under-developed countries, they cannot afford to prolong their confrontation on Kashmir, therefore, both the countries should facilitate improvement in political, economic and security environment in Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, Pakistan must learn from history, particularly in terms of the military adventures like 1965 'Operation Gibraltar' and 1999 Kargil operation. There was no positive outcome of such adventures, according to him. The ambassador strongly suggested that only through trade and normal relations, the two countries could create ideal conditions for normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. For this purpose, the Srinagar- Muzaffarabad bus service was a means to an end, i.e. peace and prosperity of the region, particularly for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. There was also a question-answer session at the seminar during which the guest speaker responded to the participants' queries. Among those who participated in the seminar were Prof Moonis Ahmar, Prof Arif Kamal, Ms Nausheen Wasi and Mr Fahimuddin, besides faculty members and students of the department.