More needs to be done to achieve peace in Kashmir.
Shabir Choudhry and Zubbair Ansari
In a joint statement by Shabir Choudhry, President JKLF UK & Europe, and Zubbair Ansari, General Secretary JKLF Azad Kashmir, have welcomed steps taken to ease tension in Kashmir and on Line of Control. The Indian government has rightly extended the cease- fire for another month; and Pakistan has also reciprocated appropriately by removing some Pakistani troops from the borders. The Kashmiri leaders on their part have also shown their maturity and sense of responsibility.
Both leaders said whereas these confidence-building measures are necessary but they on their own would not solve the thorny dispute of Kashmir; and all parties to the dispute have to sit around the table to resolve it. They said that Pakistan has removed her troops from LOC to show that she does not intend to encourage intrusion of militants into Kashmir, and India should reciprocate this move by agreeing to talk to Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership.
They further said India should also make more confidence-building measures, and should release all those detainees who have no charges against them, and move some of troops from the populated areas. Also India should facilitate Inter Kashmir Talks and allow the APHC leaders to travel to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. It is imperative that these leaders are provided with relevant travel documents that they can have talks with the Kashmiri leadership on this side of the LOC. Also this will provide them with an opportunity to have meetings with the Pakistani government and leaders of the militant groups. In these meetings APHC leaders could endeavour to persuade them that dialogue should be given a chance, and that the gun has done its job. These militant leaders need to be told that 'guest militants' should also co - operate with this peace process and give politicians a chance to find a acceptable solution to the Kashmir dispute.
Both leaders reiterated their commitment to a united and an independent Kashmir. They said it is wrong to assume that only this area is disputed where the armed struggle is going on, and solution should be sought for this area only. They said the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed and this includes areas of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. They said leadership of these areas should also be taken into confidence, and they should be part of the negotiation process. JKLF leaders said it is good to note that others have also acknowledged that there could be no military solution to the dispute; this is something the JKLF leadership realised many years ago.
They said Kashmir has been a source of war and competition between India and Pakistan, and if the issue is resolved it could start a new era of friendship and co-operation desperately needed in South Asia. An independent Kashmir could provide the necessary ingredient to bring India and Pakistan closer to each other. They said we don't need to destroy each other, we can all live in the same region and prosper, provided we learn to respect each other. To achieve this goal we have to be more accommodating and understanding, and we all have to work together and move in the same direction.