Seminar on Kashmir: 'US, European intervention not positive'
29 May 2006
The Daily Times
Lahore: US and European intervention for the resolution of the Kashmir issue would not be “positive” because these countries were themselves guilty of human rights violations, speakers at a seminar on Kashmir said on Monday. The seminar – ‘The Kashmir Issue and Composite Dialogue’ – was arranged by the Punjab University (PU) Centre for South Asian Studies and was chaired by PU Vice Chancellor Lt Gen (r) Arshad Mehmood. Hamid Nasir Chattha, the chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayyed and former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmad were the main speakers on the occasion. All speakers at the seminar stressed the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Mushahid Hussain said that war was “no longer an option” to resolve the Kashmir issue. “India and Pakistan cannot go to war because both are nuclear powers,” he said. He said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was “above all politics. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto started the nuclear programme, Benazir Bhutto strengthened it, Nawaz Sharif made Pakistan a nuclear power and the Musharraf government has also adopted the same strategy for nuclear energy,” he said. Mushahid said that if Israel could hold talks with the Palestinian leadership and the Americans could negotiate with militant groups in Iraq, then India should also be prepared for a dialogue with Kashmiri militant groups. Former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed said that Kashmir had been the “root cause” of tension in South Asia. “Neither Pakistan nor India has gained anything from this dispute, which has spawned so many other problems between the neighbours,” he said. “The world has become unipolar and the United Nations has lost its authority. Much hope cannot be associated with the UN as most of its resolutions on Kashmir are non- mandatory, non-obligatory and just a part of the UN archives today. There is no place for militancy in the world. So the Kashmir issue can only be resolved through dialogue.” Chattha said that the EU had, for the first time, appointed an envoy on Kashmir. The envoy would visit both the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir and present a comprehensive report to the EU, he said. He said that Pakistan and India “don’t have the right to decide the future of the Kashmiri people without their consent”. In his presidential address, the PU vice chancellor said that relations between Pakistan and India had remained “hostile because of their history, lack of trust, the hegemonic designs of India and its forcible occupation of Kashmir”. He said that the Indo-Pak statement during the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit on January 6 had been “a highpoint in the new bilateral process”. He said that confidence-building measures could be helpful in creating an atmosphere conducive to dialogue, but were no substitute to conflict resolution and a final settlement of Kashmir.