‘Earthquake provided new opportunity for peace in region’
31 January 2006
The News International
The Hague: The first-ever seminar on Kashmir took place in the International Court of Justice at the Peace Palace. Proceedings of the seminar, which was organised by the Kashmir Centre, European Union (EU), took place in the small court and was addressed, briefly, by Judge Keith, who will be taking office in a few days. He chose to speak in his personal capacity. The ornate ceiling and richly carved wooden pillars, which have been witness to high profile international law proceedings, on Monday were witness to Kashmir and the future scenario after the earthquake. Keith pointed out to the opportunities that the earthquake had provided for peace in the region. Pointing to the ICJ, as the centre for this seminar, Judge Keith said that this was the very place where issues like Kashmir should be discussed. Representing Pakistan, parliamentary committee Chairman Hamid Nasir Chattha gave an overview of the scenes in Azad Kashmir, going into details how the government was reaching out to the survivors. 'We, on our part, assure you that the government of Pakistan will ensure rehabilitation of every affected person and reconstruct the areas on modern lines, as far as our resources permit,' said Chattha. One of the outstanding presentations was made by Marjan Lucas of the IKV, (Inter-Church Peace Council), an NGO, which tries to enhance a political debate in the civil society and churches about the deployment of nuclear weapons in Western and Eastern countries. It has worked extensively with its partners in Jammu and Kashmir. Lucas presented post earthquake relief activities in what she called 'Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir.' The presentation was on behalf of the J&K Coalition of Civil Society, Srinagar. 'The areas of concern are the shifting of orphans outside Kashmir region, areas near barbed wire fencing, inaccessible areas and heavy snowfall zones, and lack of funds for sustained efforts aimed at long term rehabilitation,' Lucas said.