'United States of Kashmir' only part of the picture: Qayyum
9 December 2005
The Daily Times
Karachi: Former president and prime minister of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, said on Friday that a proposal to create a state called the United States of Kashmir was not the ultimate solution to the longstanding dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbours of South Asia but was part of the efforts to settle the conflict.'We have various solutions to settle this dispute between India and Pakistan and this proposal is just one on that list,' Sardar Qayyum said at a press conference at Qasr-e-Naz while referring to another proposal by General Musharraf to divide the Himalayan state into five parts.About three years ago, a study group formed by a Kashmiri intellectual had proposed the 'United States of Kashmir' arrangement. 'According to this arrangement, the members of both assemblies of divided Kashmir would elect members for a third central assembly, which would strive for the very cause of evolving an ultimate solution to the dispute,' said Sardar Qayyum.This was discussed between the leadership of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. 'This proposal has also been discussed with the Indian leadership, which has so far neither opposed nor agreed to it,' Sardar Qayyum said, adding that a Third Assembly would be given full powers to achieve the task it would be mandated for.To a question, Sardar Qayyum, who has still great say in AJK politics, said that China generally supported Pakistan's Kashmir policy, but objected to the creation of a sovereign state of Kashmir in its neighbourhood. 'Perhaps, China objects to the existence of a Muslim state in its vicinity,' said Sardar Qayyum.He said that the regional and global milieu had changed, and thus sticking to the demand of a plebiscite could not resolve the conflict. 'But, one thing is final no Kashmiri accepts the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border,' he declared. While referring to other matters, Sardar Qayyum said that the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service was not a successful experiment because India had not accepted it seriously. 'This can be gauged from the fact that the Indian authorities are allowing too few people to go to Azad Kashmir,' he said. However, he was content with the opening of the LoC at five points, which was a successful move because people living along those areas needed to commute between the divided areas of Kashmir the most. 'Such an arrangement will prove even more successful if the two countries agree to use these routes for trade,' he suggested.He said that the earthquake had brought devastation to the valley but had expedited the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Sardar Qayyum supported the presence of NATO troops in the region, saying that they were needed for relief operations in the areas ruined by the October 8 earthquake. He also talked about the post-earthquake scenario in the AJK, where homeless people badly need cold-resistant shelters. 'At present, they need to be kept safe against the chilling weather. Permanent rehabilitation would only be possible after the weather gets warmer.'