India-Pakistan Must Resolve Kashmir To Move Forward: Pak Foreign Secretary12 February 2011
Islamabad: India and Pakistan will have to resolve the 'core issue' of Kashmir according to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people if they want to give a boost to the peace process that is set to be resumed after an interregnum of over two years, foreign secretary Salman Bashir said today. Referring to recent public protests in Jammu and Kashmir, Bashir said that 'unless this core issue is resolved satisfactorily in accordance with the aspirations of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters, I don't see prospects in terms of a self-propelling peace process'. The upcoming talks to be held ahead of the Pakistani foreign minister's visit to New Delhi in July will have to 'take cognisance of what has happened in the past in dialogue with India...and the actual ground situation' in Jammu and Kashmir, Bashir said, while addressing a briefing organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Pakistan. There had been a 'resurfacing of the uprising of Kashmiri youth, women and civil society' that was being 'increasingly acknowledged by the international community and this cannot be wished away', he claimed. 'That has given an urgency to dealing with this core issue,' he added. At the same time, the two sides will have to focus on progress made in the past on the Kashmir issue, including confidence-building measures for cross-Line of Control travel and trade, Bashir said in response to questions. 'I donít think we should jettison all the good work that was done by predecessors over 60 years, we should also not be lost totally in the archives,' he said 'We need to approach these things with a great degree of clarity. We should also have clarity in what is doable and not doable and what timeframe is doable,' the top diplomat said. Asked about former foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri's remarks that the two countries were close to a settlement on Kashmir during the military regime of Pervez Musharraf, Bashir appeared to distance himself from such claims and said discussions at that time were held on the back channel alone. 'There could be good discussions on the back channel, well intentioned, but they never acquired any status if they are never discussed the way it normally happens officially,' he said. Following the decision at the meeting of the foreign Secretaries in Thimphu to resume the stalled dialogue, Pakistan will approach the parleys with 'an open and constructive mind' with a view to dealing with as many issues as possible, he said. The peace process is 'work in progress', he said. 'We are just resuming the process but hopefully beginning with a new spirit,' he added.