Pakistan for “out-of-the-box” solution to Kashmir issue

12 July 2008
The Hindu

Washington: Seeking an “out-of-the-box” settlement of the Kashmir issue with India, Pakistan has said the two countries need to go beyond the confidence-building measures (CBMs) and engage in serious dialogue to address the “real issues.” “We have to look out of the box...we have to look at innovative ways of resolution [to the Kashmir issue). We have our minds open to such issues,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday while delivering a lecture at the Brookings Institution. “It is now our hope that the leadership of the two countries would not shy away from taking such steps and move beyond the CBMs to engaging in a serious dialogue to address the real issues, not only the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr. Qureshi said. He said Islamabad has shown flexibility, adding that there was “a general feeling and a public perception in Pakistan that a matching response should come from India.” The dialogue should “now move from resolving conflicts rather than lingering with them”. To question on whether the Kashmir issue could be sorted out in the next three to five years, Mr. Qureshi said it was a long-standing problem for which there were no quick fixes or solutions. “We have to be honest. We have to be realistic. But the issue needs to be addressed. We cannot keep it under the carpet indefinitely.” “That is why we are building an environment of confidence for any resolution. But the most important thing is trust, belief. And that is what we are trying to do,” he said. The Minister, while appreciating the role of Washington in encouraging the peace process in South Asia, also called for an American engagement. “We appreciate the constructive role the U.S. has played in encouraging the peace process in South Asia. But its role should not remain confined to conflict management and should also extend to facilitating conflict resolution.” “We have seen in the past democracy in Pakistan has invariably led to a better relationship between the two countries. Both Pakistan and India have posted their highest rates of growth in the region in the last several years and their economic performance has been startling,” he added. Better diplomatic, cultural and trade relations would only help boost ties. “However, given the past history of distrust dramatic changes cannot be expected very quickly but the trend is certainly positive and is likely to continue in the new government. My recent visit to New Delhi was a step forward in this direction.” “We have introduced through this composite dialogue a number of Kashmir related CBMs. That has given confidence, facilitated people from both sides to be given greater access; thinking of enhanced trade across the LoC; and more movement other than the CBMs we are talking about.” “Dialogue is important but we have to make this result-oriented. It has to be meaningful because if we do not make it result-oriented then people who advocate dialogue will lose faith in dialogue,” Mr. Qureshi said. “But if [we] fail to deliver we will slide back to a sad situation which we do not want,” he added.