Neelum Valley Residents Ask India To Abandon Kishan Ganga Plan

21 September 2008

Muzaffarabad: Pakistan and India should maintain truce along the Line of Control and find a peaceful political solution to the Kashmir dispute instead of going for a war. This demand was made at a seminar held under the aegis of Press for Peace, a non-governmental organisation working for freedom of press and environmental protection, in Athmuqam, district headquarters of Neelum valley, to mark the World Peace Day on Sunday. Neelum valley, which straddles the LoC, has borne the brunt of cross border shelling which would block its main road and cause civilian casualties almost daily. A declaration adopted at the seminar called upon Islamabad and New Delhi to address their water disputes through talks and not let the situation reach a point of no return. India was however asked to abandon its plans to build Kishan Ganga dam in Jammu and Kashmir “as it could adversely affect the ongoing peace process between the South Asian neighbours.” Stoppage of water of River Neelum would not only affect the downstream aquatic life but would also be hazardous to the environment and ecosystem in the valley, it noted. While asking India to return the four residents of Neelum valley who were “kidnapped by the Indian soldiers from Dhakki Chaknar village one year ago,” the declaration called for repatriation of Maryam Bibi, a resident of Kupwara district who had inadvertently strayed into the AJK territory early this year. The declaration condemned the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the champions of world peace to take stock of it. “India has unleashed a reign of terror to suppress the Kashmiris condemning the economic blockade of valley and demanding freedom. The situation must not go unnoticed at the hands of international community,” it said. The declaration urged the government of Pakistan to use the “power of dialogue” to address the problems it was facing in its tribal areas. “The federal government should halt military operation in the tribal area because it has backfired and is giving rise to the terrorist attacks within the country,” the declaration said, citing Saturday’s deadliest terrorist attack in the federal capital as one such glaring example. Earlier, the speakers prominent among who were chairman implementation commission Sardar Gul-e-Khandan, Mir Gohar Rehman (Bar Association), Amiruddin Mughal (PFP), Malick Yasin Awan (MC), Inayat Ali Qasmi (JIAJK), Mir Nazir Danish (PPAJK), Prof Sultan Mahmood, Jaweria Arooj and Iram Jilani, pointed out that the people living along the LoC had heaved a sigh of relief after the 2003 ceasefire by Indian and Pakistani troops. Later, a walk was also held in the town. Participants who included young girls were carrying placards inscribed with pro-peace and anti-war slogans. They were also holding white flags. In Muzaffarabad, activists of PFP also staged a “peace march” from the organisation’s head office to the local press club. Chanting slogans for peaceful solution of Kashmir issue, participants also highlighted this message through banners and placards.