Visit to Kashmir a major CBM: Sultan18 September 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Former ‘Prime Minister’ of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary described his Kashmir visit as one of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. Sultan in an interview to the EXCELSIOR said credit goes to the Government of India for his Kashmir visit. 'I am grateful to Government of India as they didn't put any pre-condition for my visit. And, I on my part must not misuse this opportunity and become obstacle for future visit of other dignitaries from PoK', he added. Overjoyed by his Kashmir visit as his visa was issued only Friday evening, Sultan said that it was my dream to visit Kashmir and it has finally come true. Kashmir is beautiful, and whatever I had imagined it more beautiful than that, said Barrister Sultan who has no words to describe his joy to be in Kashmir. Describing his Kashmir visit as a significant development, he said that visit of a former Prime Minister of PoK to Kashmir itself is a big development. 'It was un-imaginable to see PoK PM in lanes and bylanes of Srinagar.' Sultan is the first high profile PoK leader to visit Jammu and Kashmir after partition. He has come here to attend the marriage ceremony of Yasir Watali, son of the leading Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali. Sultan said that he has no formal programme to meet any of the political leaders but he met chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Mohammad Yasin Malik as a friend who has been visiting to PoK. 'Although it is a private visa but there is no bar in meeting the people and I am open to meet any one who wishes to meet me', he said. Sultan while commenting upon people to people contact said that restrictions on the movement of the people should be lifted and both the countries should allow more and more people to visit Jammu and Kashmir and PoK. He said besides, allowing the divided families to travel on trans-LoC Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, the common people should be included in it. When asked about his comment on the situation in Kashmir after he visited the Hazratbal, Dal Lake and parts of old city, Sultan said that situation in Kashmir will not improve unless and until the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is resolved. He said 'we can never find a solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through military means. It is only dialogue and free movement of people through which issue can be resolved'. The PoK leader said 'we want the implementation of the United Nations Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir for finding out durable solution to the issue.' 'But we don't want to be rigid on our stand, a settlement that is acceptable to the people of the Jammu and Kashmir can be worked out through dialogue and negotiations', he said. Sultan said people of Jammu and Kashmir are main party to the dispute and India and Pakistan should involve them for finding its durable solution which is a key to peaceful South Asia. For this, he wants India and Pakistan to move forward. He suggested that intra-Kashmir dialogue to discuss the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute should be held at Jammu, Srinagar and Muzaffarbad. 'I propose Muzaffarbad or my home city Mirpur to begin for this', he added. The former PoK 'PM' said both the sides should show flexibility while dealing with this complex issue as Jammu and Kashmir has seen much blood shed and it is time to find a way out. 'We want the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue and it is in the interests of both the nuclear powers, India and Pakistan. Any small accident can lead to catastrophe in the region', he warned. 'And it is in the interests of both the countries to start acting now.' When asked about the converting of LoC into permanent border and making travel between PoK and Jammu and Kashmir hassle free, Sultan said it is no solution and amounts to rigidity. 'It will result in division of Jammu and Kashmir which is not acceptable.' Earlier, Barrister Sultan arrived at Srinagar International Airport this afternoon and drove straight to the residence of Watali at Baghat-e-Barzulla to attend the marriage. He later went to a local hotel here where from he was wisked away by the JKLF chairman Yasin Malik. He visited 'Martyrs graveyard' at Eidgah to offer fateh and then went to Hazratbal in the evening to offer prayers there. He met a cross section of people at the shrine who had gathered there. Sultan also visited world famous Dal lake and Royal Spring Golf Course where he was mesmerized by the beauty of Kashmir. Sultan is leaving for Delhi on September 21 as his visa expires on September 22. But he may extend his visa by a couple of days to stay in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Tariq Shafi, vice president and regional chairman of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, is also in Kashmir valley to attend Watali's wedding.