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'Kashmir issue needs substantive resolution'

By Dharam Shourie in United Nations
January 21, 2006 16:36 IST
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Stressing that New Delhi and Islamabad must move beyond simple confidence-building measures to 'substantive dispute resolution,' Pakistan has asserted that the Kashmir issue must be settled for South Asia to achieve 'sustainable peace.'

Addressing reporters after a 45-minute meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz made it clear that Kashmir was the core issue, which had to be resolved to allow India and Pakistan to move forward on other fronts, including trade and investment.

Expressing concern over human rights violations in Kashmir, he said any solution to the Kashmir issue must reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

"Without that, we do not feel we can find a sustainable solution," he said.

"Islamabad believes that India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people need to show courage, leadership, magnanimity, flexibility and passion," Aziz said, adding, "What we need is a passion for peace and that is what Pakistan is trying to achieve."

When asked about Indo-Pak relations, the Pakistan premier harped only on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan is engaged in a dialogue with India and Kashmiri people to find a 'credible and lasting' solution, Aziz said, adding that it had proposed several initiatives, which he believed would lead to its resolution.

According to Aziz, the initiatives proposed by Pakistan included demilitarisation of Kashmir, self-governance and creating an environment where the Kashmiri population on both sides could meet without restrictions.

Some progress has been made in this direction but much more needs to be done, he said.

"I am hopeful that the dialogue process we have started with India will move forward and both sides along with the Kashmiri people will work towards finding a solution," Aziz said.

"And once we see progress on moving towards a solution of the Kashmir issue, we will make progress in tandem on other issues, like trade and investment. But they have all to move together," he told reporters.

Aziz said Pakistan wanted peace with all neighbours, including India, and had made 'strenuous efforts' to engage in confidence-building measures and the peace process.

"But the relations are mired in conflict and at the core of our relationship is the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and we are attempting and working towards finding a solution to this issue," he added.

The Pakistan prime minister stressed upon the need for opening of all five points along the Line of Control daily, rather than once a week as is being done at present, for the people on two sides to meet their families.

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Dharam Shourie in United Nations
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