‘Kashmir dispute resolution to help curb terrorism’
28 October 2006
Washington DC: To suppress support for terrorism, it is important to address ‘political grievances’ of the Kashmiri people and end human rights violations in the Valley, says a leading US think-tank. “A genuine peace process between New Delhi and a wide spectrum of Kashmiri leaders that addresses political grievances and human rights issues would also help to temper the Pakistani public’s emotional reactions to Kashmir and widen public support for a genuine crackdown on violent groups,” says a report released on Saturday by the Heritage Foundation. “Washington should encourage New Delhi to take additional confidence-building measures on Kashmir and to involve the Kashmiris in a peace process that addresses human rights concerns and political grievances,” the report adds. The foundation, which has strong ties to the ruling Republican Party, also urges the Bush administration to “acknowledge Pakistan’s interest in seeing substantive movement on India-Pakistan talks on Kashmir”. It is the first time that a major US think-tank has acknowledged a link between the Kashmir dispute and the rise of terrorism in South Asia and has underlined the need to resolve this issue. The Heritage Foundation also advises Washington to ‘maintain and fortify’ US diplomatic efforts to facilitate the building of peace between India and Pakistan. Warning that New Delhi’s allegations of Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai blasts could derail Indo-Pakistan bilateral talks, the report says that the US needs to stay engaged with both governments. Author Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow on South Asian affairs, underlines the need for Washington to ensure that recent confidence building measures, such as the Muzzaffarbad-Srinagar bus service, are not disrupted. “Encouraging travel back and forth across the Line of Control (LoC) and greater interaction and cooperation between officials from both sides of the LoC will widen the constituencies for peace and help to isolate violent extremists,” she says. Ms Curtis also advises the Bush administration to institute regular trilateral meetings with senior US, Pakistani, and Afghan officials, such as the Bush–Musharraf-Karzai meeting held in late September in Washington. “The US needs to take the lead in mediating differences between Kabul and Islamabad and injecting ideas into the discussions to help to overcome their mutual mistrust,” she says. “Clearly, Pakistan has a role to play in achieving a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Washington needs to convey to Islamabad both the priority that it places on ensuring stability in Afghanistan and that the US will remain committed to this goal over the long term.” Ms Curtis also urges Washington to encourage economic integration among Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India so that each has a vested interest in overall stability in the region.