We Have Influence Over Kashmiri Militants: Pak
11 March 2006
The Indian Express
Islamabad: Claiming that it does not command the militant groups active in Kashmir, Pakistan has said that it has 'influence' over them which it would like to use to bring down violence. 'Pakistan does have influence (over the militant groups) but we do not command them. Pakistan has influence because it has been advocating and highlighting the Kashmir issue,' Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri said on Friday night at a dinner he hosted in the honour of the delegates attending the Kashmir Conference. 'When we say we have influence it does not mean that we have control, of course we do not have any control but we do have influence,' he said adding that Pakistan would like to use its 'influence' to bring down violence. 'Pakistan is interested in bringing down the level of violence because we feel that will definitely facilitate resolution of (the issue of) Jammu and Kashmir. For durable peace we need to resolve the Kashmir issue,' he said. Kasuri was responding to CPM leader from Jammu and Kashmir Muhammad Yousuf Taragami's remarks that Pakistan should help bring down violence in the Kashmir Valley by using its influence over the militant groups. At the dinner, attended by 50 delegates who took part in the conference organised by the US-based NGO 'Pugwash', Taragami also said that India and Pakistan should facilitate the return of scores of Kashmiri youth who have crossed into Pakistan. Taragami also said that India and Pakistan should consider creation of peace zones in the Kashmir region by withdrawing security forces. In his response, Kasuri said Pakistan wanted demilitarisation to raise the 'comfort level' of people of Kashmir, which in turn would enable President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to carry forward their efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue. He said withdrawal of troops is also a 'great CBM' and Pakistan too is prepared to pull out its security forces from the areas under its control. Besides several Kashmiri leaders from both sides of LoC and representatives of think- tanks, those who attended the dinner included Indian High Commissioner Shivshankar Menon and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan.