Kashmir Study Group Chairman Says Valley's Peace Prospects Looking Better
18 October 2006
Associated Press of Pakistan
Islamabad: Appreciating the idea of self-governance as a way forward, founder of Kashmir Study Group, Farooq Kathwari sees 'improved prospects' for progress towards a 'feasible' settlement of lingering Kashmir dispute. Kathwari, who heads the Washington-based Group, observed at a gathering of think-tank representatives that peace opportunity appears to be better now than in recent years. But he also added that the two South Asian neighbours and the Kashmiris should cooperate to move towards a 'feasible, honourble and acceptable' resolution to the long-standing conflict. At the same, he also underlined the importance of international community facilitating the two South Asian countries in moving the peace process towards a meaningful conclusion. Speaking on 'Plans and Prospects for Peace in Kashmir,' here at the US Institute of Peace, Kathwari based his optimistic assessment on recent steps including opening up of communication links and exchanges between the two sides. He pointed out that the Indian business community particularly is pushing New Delhi for enhancing trade between the two sides. Analysing various ideas, he described the recent Pakistani proposals of demilitarization and self-governance as significant and voiced a hope that with flexibility from both Pakistan and India, they would be able to achieve substantive progress. 'Self-governance is a good idea, people should be given the opportunity to govern themselves - good governance means people are able to govern themselves - that is something essential,' said Kathwari, who is chairman of Ethan Allen, a major American corporation Kathwari, whose Kashmir Study Group has been floating a number of ideas for finding an acceptable Kashmir settlement, critically evaluated various proposals in the light of geographical and ethnic dimensions. Discussing the impact the decades-old Kashmir conflict has had on the lives of people he said the Kashmiris have suffered gravely and cited deteriorating health, education and economic conditions and the ensuing plight of people in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.