July 2005 News

Call To Extend CBMs In Kashmir

29 July 2005
The Hindu

Srinagar: Calling for sustained efforts to ensure the success of the India- Pakistan peace process, participants in the first ever intra-Kashmir dialogue here on Friday laid stress on extending confidence-building measures to other areas as well. A focussed peace process would also prepare the ground for resolving the Kashmir issue, they said. On the first day of the three-day talks organised by the Council for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR), the Delhi Policy Group (DPG) and the Forum of Regional Voices (FRV), over 50 participants from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Northern Areas fully supported the peace process which, they said, was in the interest of the people of this divided region. Radha Kumar of DPG said that in a process which started a year ago 'we have vigorously worked for restoring links between the two parts of Kashmir and we have also succeeded in that.' The objective was to come up with ideas of intra- Kashmir cooperation in culture, education and even politics. The speakers lauded both organisations for making it possible for even representatives from Gilgit and Baltistan to reach Srinagar. 'It was a difficult task but both the Governments [of India and Pakistan] cooperated with us,' said CDR executive secretary Sushobha Barve. FRV convener Zahuruddin said Jammu and Kashmir was a composite society, which together should find ways of living peacefully. 'No society can live honourably unless all its parts are together.' The peace efforts were paying dividends. Scholar and political commentator Rajmohan Gandhi said the peace process and Kashmir were linked to each other. 'We should acknowledge the fact that India has not fulfilled its commitment to the people of Kashmir on their future.' But this was a golden opportunity for civil society to play an important role in resolving the crisis. Fida Mohammad Nashad, former deputy chief executive of the Northern Areas, lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's role in giving a new direction to process of reconciliation in the subcontinent. 'I was happy to see a hoarding in Srinagar featuring Musharraf and Singh,' he said. 'We need to think where from to start. Should peace be restored first or the Kashmir issue resolved? ' But 'we should understand and tolerate each other.' Ismail Khan, an analyst from Skardu, underlined the need for opening the Kargil- Skardu road, where people 'have been divided.' He sought the involvement of the people of Northern Areas in the dialogue process. Veteran journalist Ved Bhasin disagreed with the view that peace should precede the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Nasir Hussain Munshi of Kargil said that before talking about peace 'we should see what the ground realities are.' Srinagar-based journalist Zafar Meraj said the foremost thing was to ensure that people had a sense of security.


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