Pak, India Were Close To Kashmir Solution: Kasuri

19 February 2009
Geo TV

New Delhi: Pakistan and India were close to agreement on Kashmir through back-channel diplomacy, former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said Thursday. In an interview with an Indian news channel, Kasuri said both the countries made substantial progress on four parts of Kashmir solution including demilitarization, regionalization, joint mechanism and self-government. Referring to demilitarization, he said both countries believed agreement cannot be reached without providing comfort to Kashmiris. But schedules of withdrawal of forces had not been agreed but the principle was that it would provide relief to Kashmiris. Without divulging the details, he said regionalisation was the second part of the whole settlement. When asked about joint mechanism which was being worked out, he said “there would be representatives from our side of Kashmir, this side of Kashmir, and Pakistanis and Indians.” They were supposed to look after certain subjects. In this mechanism, he said both countries had substantial understanding. To a question, he further said Pakistan wanted Kashmiris to be involved. “We wanted Kashmiris to be involved, and India was not that keen, so we arrived at this modus vivendi that your Kashmiris would travel to Pakistan, our Kashmiris would travel here and meet your leaders and your Kashmiris meet our leaders in an indirect form. We would have preferred a direct Kashmiri Participation,” he said. He said these back channels talks were held all over the world. Kasuri also said that Pakistan was hoping that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Islamabad in 2007, but he could not find time due to the elections in Uttar Pradesh. He said both countries had agreed that peace process was irreversible. Referring to issue of Sir Creek, he said there was almost an agreement on it. It was ready. Joint survey, Joint maps. Only political will was required. If the PM of India had come when we thought he would, we would have actually signed it, and that would have created the right atmosphere for resolution of other disputes, particularly the issue of J&K. We needed the right atmosphere,' he said. Referring to issue of Siachen, he said there was a lot of understanding. In fact both sides had worked out certain schedules of disengagement whereby Indian and Pakistani concerns would be met.