Involve northern areas in talks: Amanullah
5 February 2006
Muzaffarabad: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Amanullah Khan has said that Pakistan should demonstrate sincerity in resolving the Kashmir issue by including the northern areas of the State in the peace process. 'Pakistan has to show sincerity by bringing even the people of northern areas, which are part of the undivided State of Jammu and Kashmir, into the dialogue process as they are also part of the dispute. Let the people living in those areas, who have their own centuries-old identity, be given the right to choose their future. I have confronted the Pakistan leadership on the issue but they have largely been shying away from discussions. The way they are handling the legitimate political-cum-economic aspirations of the people in the northern areas is not the right approach towards resolving a very complex problem,' Mr. Khan told The Hindu. The Pakistan Government only displayed its own weakness in its response to the Indian proposal of opening the Kargil-Skardu road. 'If somebody wants to close the doors, there is something to hide. Let even the people living in the northern areas who have ethnic and racial similarity with the people of Ladakh meet each other. I am afraid the Pakistan Government has not handled the issue in a proper manner.' Mr. Khan, who belongs to the northern areas, was critical of Islamabad for not respecting the genuine economic rights of the people of the region. He cited the construction of the Bhasha dam in Diamir district. The dam's reservoir, located in Damir pocket of Northern areas, would submerge 110 km of the Karakoram Highway; some 24,000 people would be displaced.