It is a positive development.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 October 2003
Commenting on the new initiative taken by the government of India to break the dead lock on the issue of Kashmir and improving relations with Pakistan, Dr Shabir Choudhry said, ‘It is a positive development, and we hope that the other parties to the dispute namely Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership will also respond in spirit of co operation’.
Dr Shabir Choudhry who is Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, said, ‘Use of gun will not bring peace in Kashmir and South Asia; if anything it will exacerbate the situation. People of Kashmir in particular and people of South Asia in general want peace in the region, which could only be achieved by a process of dialogue.’ He said, ‘We have experienced wars, near nuclear war situation and continued tension which has greatly affected peace, development and prosperity of the region. People want to live in peace and harmony, and want governments to begin war on eradication of illiteracy, hatred and poverty, instead of fighting each other.’
Dr Choudhry said, ‘Leaders of South Asia need to learn from the European leaders who have established peace and harmony in that region, and have concentrated on social and economic development which has greatly enhanced their power and influence in the world. They have achieved this status by ensuring that they will resolve their differences by peaceful negotiations. They have learnt that the war only brings misery and destruction.’
He said, ‘If leadership in South Asia could resolve their differences, including the dispute of Kashmir by a process of dialogue then we can also establish an economic community in South Asia, and soon catch up with the Europe. But if we chose to follow the other route- to fight out to resolve differences, then in MAD (Mutually Acquired Destruction) process we could probably bring ourselves to the level of African countries.’
Dr Choudhry said, ‘Choice is very clear before us, and I hope that common sense prevails, and leadership of India, Pakistan and Kashmir will not give in to communalists and people with vested interest who want the status quo to continue.’ He added, ‘The APHC, despite its past failings and split, has great opportunity to improve its standing and demonstrate that it cares for people, and is serious about peace in Kashmir. They should take decision by keeping welfare of the people in mind and must not lose this opportunity. They need to show their maturity in politics and should not wait for any phone call from across the border.
He said, ‘People of Kashmir have been forcibly divided, and we welcome this step to start bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar which will help the people of Kashmir to meet each other and establish close links which are absolutely crucial in mutual understanding.’ Dr Choudhry said, ‘I hope that government of Pakistan and government of Azad Kashmir will give positive response to this’. He further said that ‘similar moves should be made to establish links with people of Gilgit and Baltistan from both sides of the LOC.’