November 2005 News

India Ready To Discuss Self-governance Idea

25 November 2005
The Nation

Islamabad: After its initial refusal, India has agreed to consider Pakistan's proposal over 'self-governance' in Kashmir but all bilateral discussions in this regard will be held secretly through back channel diplomacy. Pakistan has formally handed over its proposal of self- governance and demilitarization in Kashmir with soft Line of Control (LoC) to India, which is now being studied by top officials in New Delhi, said the official sources here. They, however, said it has been conveyed to Pakistan that any discussions on the vital proposal would be held in highly secret manner and through informal channels. Earlier, Indian Ministry of External Affairs had denied receiving any proposal by Pakistan on self-governance for Kashmiri people and demilitarization of the disputed Himalayan region. An official here said the Indian willingness to consider the proposal put forth by President Musharraf was highly significant, adding though it did not demonstrate its readiness to accept Kashmiris' self-governance but still even the very deliberations on the matter were deviation from stated policy of New Delhi. He said India, at the most, was in favour of granting more autonomy to Kashmiris within its constitution but the idea of self-governance was much more beyond that. Pakistan has been working on the idea of self-governance in Kashmir as well as its demilitarization for quite long now, the official said, adding now it has been proposed formally and secret diplomacy would soon be commenced by the two sides to formally discuss the issue. Another official here said that during the informal talks, likely to begin in next two weeks, Pakistani side would ask India to begin pulling troops out of Held Kashmir as it would the pave way for conclusive talks on Kashmiris' self-governance. However, he admitted that it would be a daunting task to prevail upon India for troops withdrawal keeping in view the recurrence of militant attacks in Held Kashmir. India, he said, had made it clear that demilitarization of Kashmir was not possible while 'infiltration' on LoC continued. New Delhi, he added, would certainly ask for concrete assurances of permanent halt to so-called illegal cross-LoC movement before accepting an idea of self-governance in demilitarized Kashmir with soft Line of Control.


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