Intra-Kashmir Conference in Kashmir

Md. Sadiq
15 July 2005

The Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR), Delhi Policy Group (DPG) and Forum for Regional Voices (FRV) organised an Intra-Kashmir Conference at Centaur hotel in Srinagar from 29-31 July 2005. A thirteen member Pakistani delegation headed by Retd. Chief Justice Abdul Masjid Malik participated in the conference. The delegation included scholars, lawyers and journalists. The delegation from India represented all the ethnic and religious communities of the state including people from Jammu, Poonch, Rajouri, Kargil, Leh and the Valley. The conference aimed at strengthening and fostering people to people dialogue between intellectuals of both sides of Kashmir, to strengthen the peace process and resolution of the Kashmir issue through peaceful means taking into consideration the aspirations of Kashmiris.

The Pakistan delegation members were: Abdul Majid Malik, former Chief Justice Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK); Raja Khalid Akbar Khan, educationist, Mirpur; Ashfaq Ahmed Hashmi, Muzaffarabad; Mohammed Irshad Mehmood, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad; Sayed Arif Bahar, journalist, Muzaffarabad; Prof. Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Muzaffarabad; Syed Afaq Hussain, Muzaffarabad; Farooq Khan Niazi, advocate, Mirpur; Munir Hussain Chaudhary, Mirpur; Asadullah Khan; Imran Nadeem; Fida Mohammed Nashad; Syed Afaq Hussain.

The conference was addressed by Ashfaq Ahmed Hashmi, Nahid Tariq (MLA), Khalid Khan (PoK), Muneer Choudhary (PoK), Raj Mohammed Jameel (PoK),  Mohamed Ismail Khan (Skardu), Fida Mohammed Nashad and Nadeem of Baltistan. All of them highlighted the importance of peace and mutual trust so that the Kashmir issue could be resolved peacefully and peace and stability could be established in the subcontinent. Addressing the gathering Justice Abdul Majid Malik stressed on  the need for harmonious relations between India and Pakistan and hoped that the ongoing peace process between the two nations would be taken to the logical conclusion. He also laid importance on developing and strengthening human and brotherly relations between the people of India and Pakistan, especially those living on both the sides of Line of Control (LoC). Iyam Nadeem and Fide Mohammed Nashad, while addressing the conference suggested that employees working in PoK must be allowed to visit Indian Kashmir so that they could have a broader interaction with the people. Khalid Akbar Khan came up with the idea of a joint struggle for demolishing the walls of hatred and also demanded opening of all land routes across the LoC. The delegation admitted that Hurriyat Conference was not true representative of Kashmiris and therefore the dialogue process needs to be expanded beyond the Hurriyat to include other groups as well.

The Pakistani delegation was met by Retd.Chief Justice R P Sethi; K.D.Sethi; Prof Sahoor-ul-Din, Head of Urdu Department of  Jammu  University; Rajiv Chunni, Chairman SOS; and, Jatinder Bakshi, President, Action Committee for Return of Migrants. They had friendly interaction with the delegation and requested them to raise the issue of refugees during the two day conference. In her opening address, Radha Kumar of Delhi Policy Group praised the efforts of the Indian government and Pakistani leaders towards Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and described the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road as one of the major steps in this direction. Chief Editor of Kashmir Times Ved Bhasin stated that the Kashmir problem should be solved in accordance with the wishes of the people so that peace would be established in the region. Raj Mohan Gandhi, a well know social activist, stressed on the need for building confidence among the people of India and Pakistan so that both the sides could effectively work for establishing peace. Naleem Baldeo Sharma and Prof Siddiq Wahid asserted that all the sections of the people should be included in the peace process so that  a permanent and viable solution could be reached. K.D. Sethi stressed on the need to give maximum weightage to the wishes of people of all the regions of Kashmir and also added that the Hurriyat did not truly represent the people. Veteran journalist Balraj Puri stated that establishment of peace was the first step towards the resolution of the Kashmir problem. He also stressed the importance of doing away with gun culture as it is a hindrance for a meaningful dialogue. Moti Lal (Hindi Forum Leader) laid stress to end all forms of violence. A.R. Hanjoora stressed on the importance of the return of Kashmiri Pandits with honour and dignity.

Four members of the Pakistani delegation stated their nationality in the C-form at the hotel records as 'State of Jammu and Kashmir They were Abdul Majid Malik, Munir Hussain Chaudhary, Raja Khalid Akbar Khan and Advocate Farooq Khan Niazi. In an informal interaction, Afaq Ahmed confided in Tahir Mohi-ud-din that militant camps have not been closed in Pakistan and such camps were very much there though their activities are suspended at present. The delegation also met Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof Gani Bhat (MC), Moulavi Abbas Ansari (IUM), Bilal Gani Lone (PC), Salim Geelani (breakaway DFP), Fazal-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PPF) and Khalil (PC/Bilal). Members of the delegation also met MY Tarigami (MLA, CPM) and Hakim Yaseen, Minister for Revenue. Tarigami stated that internal ceasefire was necessary for the restoration of peace in the state. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was not content with the organisers for not consulting with the APHC.

During their stay the Pakistani delegation met the families of thos who had migrated from PoK and interacted with them. They also met many key leaders and personalities of Indian Kashmir.