'Intra-Kashmir Conference Begins
9 October 2009
: Amid the diplomatic wrangling between India and Pakistan, the efforts to subside tensions through Track-II channels have again begun. In this connection, a three-day intra-Kashmir conference commenced in Srinagar today. Attended by delegates from India, Pakistan and both sides of the Line of Control, the conference titled “Kashmir-Opportunities & Challenges Ahead,” is organized by new Delhi-based NGO, Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR). Addressing the conference the first day on Friday evening in a hotel here, former foreign secretary of Pakistan, Dr Humayun Khan observed that the reluctance of some ‘agencies’ and bureaucratic inertia are responsible for implementation of already agreed CBM’s between the two neighbouring countries. The former diplomat expressed his dismay that India and Pakistan have failed to consult the people of Kashmir and hear their justifiable demand. He said that the two governments also have not really brought the elements of settlement of the issue before their respective publics due to fear of an adverse reaction. “There is a lack of will to implement the agreed measures like the opening of borders. This is because of the reluctance shown by agencies and the bureaucratic inertia. These impediments need to be addressed for a forward movement,” Dr Khan averred. He added that Kashmiris sought de facto restoration of pre 1947 position or what can be said de facto reunion of their state. “It means LoC may remain but making it irrelevant. We see the roads were opened but the traffic on it remained minimal.” Dr Khan further added that though Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh constituted working groups but not much progress has been made on these issues. “I will urge that let us pick up threads from where we have left them. Let us not go back,” Dr Khan said, adding that people in Pakistan perfectly understand the sadness and anger which people in India felt after Mumbai attacks. “You will see some measures will be taken in a day or two. There will be trail so that people in India are satisfied with Pakistan’s action. But let me tell you that perpetrators of Mumbai attack are our enemies too. We do not condone or approve of their actions and one should understand that in Pakistan we face such incidents everyday. This is a common problem and both of us will have to fight it together,” Dr Khan observed. The former diplomat said that people in both the countries can not afford to make their relations hostage to terrorism. “We in Pakistan fear and are concerned over any such attack in future which can vitiate our relations further. Things have come to stall but we must not give up. Let our pressure not apply on negative decisions only but let us pressure our governments for positive decisions as well,” Dr Khan said. The former foreign secretary opined that he and his colleagues were delighted to hear the words like ‘peace process is irreversible’ but they could not imagine that such process could stop as well. “Since we have been dealing with India-Pakistan relations we were shock proof to witness one step ahead two steps backward. Things need to be streamlined and here is where the responsibility lies on us,” he added. As the sessions started in the evening, renowned journalist Mohammad Sayeed Malik welcomed the guests. Malik in his welcome address said that the deliberations that will follow during the conference will have an impact on the stalled peace process. He also thanked the CDR for generating an atmosphere of trust in the situation of trust deficit. “There is no other way to cope up with such a situation except organizing such meetings which can conclude by mooting out reports, recommendations and inputs which are very vital for the slowed down peace process.” Minister for finance, Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Choudhary Latif Akbar introduced the delegates from Pakistan Administered Kashmir. Akbar before introduction to the visiting delegates urged upon them to visit Kashmir via different routes. He also expressed his disappointment over jammed tele-access across the border. “Whenever we cross Pathankote Bridge we are cut off from the world especially form Pakistan. If there is no security problem in Azad Kashmir why this same is being projected here. This gap needs to be seriously considered,” Akbar said, adding that Kashmiris have a heart to hear relation which will always bypass such impediments. The participants in the conference over the next two days will discuss impediments in the relations between India and Pakistan and the steps that can bring the two countries together. Besides, the conference will deliberate over strengthening of Confidence Building Measures and strengthening of economic cooperation across the Line of Control, said Sushobha Barve, executive secretary CDR. Besides, Dr. Khan, Aziz Ahmed Khan former Pakistan High Commissioner to India has also arrived to participate in the conference. The other delegates include comprised Choudhary Latif Akbar AJK Peoples Party leader and Minister AJK government, wife of Choudhary Latief Akbar Safina Choudhary, Tahir Mahmud retired Commissioner of Customs Government of Pakistan, Zulfikar Abbasi president Intra-Jammu & Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IJ&KCC&I), Khwaja Tariq Mahmood Wani vice-president IJ&KCC&I, Tanweer Anwer Qureshi vice president Muzaffarabd Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Raja Muhammad Jamil former vice president FPCCI and former president AJ&KCCI, Imtiaz Ahmed Editor Daily Jammu & Kashmir Muzaffarabd, Zafar Hussain Assistant Professor Post Graduate College Rawalakote, Farrukh Intsab woman activist and lawyer from Muzaffarabd, Uzera Shah daughter of Speaker AJK Legislative Assembly Shah Ghulam Qadir, Sardar Amjad Yousuf Khan of Centre for Kashmir Studies, Islamabad and Tariq Maqbool Naqash Muzaffarabad correspondent ‘Dawn’.