Kashmir Conference inaugurated in Washington
27 July 2007
The Daily Times
Washington DC: Congressman Joseph Pitts and Congresswoman Clarke inaugurated the seventh International Kashmir Peace Conference under the auspices of Kashmir American Council (KAC)-Kashmir Center, Washington, and the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers at Capitol Hill, KAC said in a press statement on Friday. In his opening remarks, Congressman Pitts expressed hope that the Kashmir conflict would be resolved to the satisfaction of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, it said. Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai said that a durable solution to the Kashmir problem demanded flexibility, sacrifice and concessions not only from the people of Kashmir but from India and Pakistan as well. Congressman Dan Burton, Congressman Danny Davis, Congresswoman Clarke, Congressman Rahall, Congressman Moran, Congressman Pascrell, Congressman Tom Davis, Congressman Rohrabacher, Congressman Honda and Congressman McDermott emphasised that all the parties, including Kashmiris, should work out a negotiated settlement to end the plight of Kashmiris. More than 12 other congressmen either listened to part of the sessions or were visited by the members of the Kashmiri delegation. Many a world leader appreciated the efforts of the conference and sent in statements to that effect, the statement said. President George W Bushs office told the conference in writing that he sincerely appreciates your thoughtfulness and sends his best wishes. Former UK prime minister Tony Blair wrote that the UK government believed that peace between India and Pakistan could only be durable if it took into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We continue to urge both India and Pakistan to seek a lasting resolution to the issue of Kashmir, he wrote. Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon wrote, The secretary general appreciates your kind invitation to this important gathering. He is pleased to note your efforts aimed at exploring avenues towards finding a durable solution to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, and sends his best. Other world leaders who sent their best include the prime ministers of Norway and Canada, former US presidents Jimmy Carter and George H Bush, and dignitaries such as President Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, over 45 US senators and over 150 Congress members, it said. There were four sessions, which dealt with various themes. Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan ruled out war as an option and advocated a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris. He argued that Kashmir was the chief destabilising factor in South Asia. Dr Attia Inaytullah, the head of the delegation of the Parliamentary Kashmir Committee, evaluated the current human rights situation in Indian- occupied Kashmir and argued that the genocide should be stopped. Dr Nazir Shawl said that bilateral talks had never proven fruitful, so Pakistan and India had to involve a genuine Kashmiri leadership in order to resolve the issue once and for all. Ved Bhasin said that the Line of Control was an artificial line, and should be eliminated. Dr Rodney Jones said that geopolitical developments had enhanced the Kashmiris struggle for self-determination. Any solution had to be pragmatic and realistic, he added. Prof Sheikh Showkat Hussain said that disappearances, torture, rape and custodial killings were almost a norm in Kashmir despite the peace process. The human rights violations continue with impunity, he added. Praful Bidwai advocated a liberal visa system. Dr Vaidik advocated an independent Kashmir and said that India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris should sit together and discuss how to attain peace and share responsibilities. Mumtaz Wani, Tahir Aziz, Reverend Brian Cox, Ali Adnan Ibrahim, Dr Mirza Ashraf Beg, Sareer Fazili and Prof Faizanul Haq also spoke on the occasion, the statement said.