July 2005 News

Benefits Of Peace Should Be Felt: Dialogue Group

31 July 2005
The Hindu

Srinagar: The first intra-Kashmir dialogue which concluded here on Sunday urged the Governments of India and Pakistan and the militant groups to move towards a ceasefire to take the situation in troubled Jammu and Kashmir to a non-violent phase. Over 50 delegates from India, Pakistan, both parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan who took part in the deliberations since July 29, adopted a resolution hailing the peace process. The dialogue was jointly organised by the Council for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR), Delhi Policy Group (DPG) and Forum of Regional Voices (FRV). Acknowledging the recent peace initiatives taken by the Governments and the civil societies of India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir, 'Azad Kashmir' and Gilgit- Baltistan and their support for people-to-people contacts, the joint statement issued at the end said: 'We are, however, concerned at the slow pace of progress, which means the benefits are yet to be felt on the ground. We ask the Governments to work together to end violence, as was promised by the heads of India and Pakistan.' It asked militant groups operating in Kashmir and the Governments of India and Pakistan to enter into a ceasefire. 'Their (Musharraf's and Manmohan's) unspoken commitment was that Pakistan would push for an end to militancy, and India for troop reduction and an end to human rights violations - including custodial deaths by security forces,' the statement said. It urged India and Pakistan to reopen other routes linking Jammu and Kashmir to the outside world. 'We urge the Governments to implement the agreements they made on reopening the Poonch-Rawalakot, Mirpur-Jammu and Kargil-Skardu routes,' it said, adding that deadlines set for the reopening of some routes were not met. The delegates asked the Governments to cover all citizens of the former State, including Gilgit-Baltistan, and urged to have Gilgit-Baltistan the same administrative status as other parts of the former State. The statement expressed concern over the 'lack of people's participation' in the peace process. It ended with 'We came here as strangers and we leave here as friends'. Expressing satisfaction over the deliberations, Radha Kumar of DPG said 'it was a beginning and we have been encouraged with the response of the people'. 'We are keen to continue this dialogue in future as well,' she told The Hindu. Sushobha Barve of CDR said 'some vital issues have been identified during the dialogue and we will try to pursue those'. This is for the first time people from northern areas have come to Kashmir and this certainly has helped in laying the foundation for a fruitful and constructive interaction between all parts of the former Jammu and Kashmir State, she added.


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