Change In Indian Stance On Kashmir Visible: Tahir Iqbal
22 July 2007
Associated Press of Pakistan
Luton: The Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Tahir Iqbal has spoken of visibility of further progress on the Indo-Pak peace process and said the recent statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated change in the thought process of New Delhi. The Minister was addressing a one-day councilors convention organized by the London- based Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre at the Town Hall on Saturday. The theme of the convention was 'The Challenge of Peace in Kashmir and the role of British Kashmiri Diaspora'. Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan Abdul Basit was also present on the occasion while members of the Kashmir Council Hamid Pothi and Syed Raza Naqvi and Nawaz Gardezi, advisor to the President of Azad Kashmir were also present. The Federal Minister explained the background of the ongoing peace process and its importance for the whole of South Asia. He recognized the fact that a dialogue is essential in a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Mr.Iqbal impressed upon the participants to convince the international community that Kashmir struggle is an indigenous one for right of self determination and there is a difference between a legitimate movement of self determination and terrorism. The Minister also felt the fact that the Indian leadership is expanding the course of discussion with different political opinions, is an indication of their degree of seriousness. He said that a reciprocal flexibility between India and Pakistan can be a way forward in Kashmir and demilitarization will lead in the creation of a congenial environment. He conceded that the Kashmiri people have right to sit in discussions at a mature stage when there is some visible progress in sight. He stressed for inter faith harmony and said that Islam is both moderate and modern and a lasting religion that respects other religions as well. The Kashmir Affairs Minister asked the community to be a model and develop a closer relationship with the indigenous British public both as good citizens of this country and to promote the Kashmir cause. Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, in his speech focused the delegates' minds on the ongoing composite dialogue. He explained the different ingredients and the positive motives behind this dialogue. He declared that the dialogue can move ahead when both the sides scale down their rigid stances. Mr.Basit, however, said that Kashmiri people's aspirations and wishes are of paramount importance and they have the right to decide about their political future. However, he stressed on the Kashmiri diaspora to be very proactive and promote the cause of Kashmir by reaching out to the international and mainstream media on a regular basis by writing letters. The diplomat also called for greater unity across the political spectrum and asked Kashmiris to rise above different prejudices and stage a united approach with one point agenda for the sake of Kashmiris. Dr Zulfiqar Ali, President of the Advisory Committee of the Justice Foundation, Kashmir Centre in his welcome address underlined the importance of the event which he said was to focus on the strategic input to alleviate the suffering of the people of Kashmir living in the occupied territory and struggling for justice, peace and harmony. Professor Nazir Shawl, Executive Director, JFKC, in his address he said that the mayors and councilors are the role models for the entire British Kashmiri Diaspora who need to integrate and associate themselves in the national, social and political life of this country which is now their home. He also said that South Asia is the only major region in the world with unsettled frontiers and the central dispute in the region is about the future disposition of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. He pleaded that Britain as the formal imperial power has a moral obligation to correct historical wrong and help in finding routes to conflict resolution in Kashmir. On this occasion, a Kashmir Self Determination Forum (UK) was announced in order to present a single voice of the Kashmiri Diaspora. This forum will have representations of Kashmiris from all walks of life from across UK. It was also announced that this year's late Councilor Sardar Ali Award will be presented to Mahmood Bhatti for his dedicated work for the Kashmir cause at the JFKC's annual conference in November 2007.