September 1998 News

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Mandela Meddles in Kashmir

1st September 1998

DURBAN- The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) for the first time in history has called for a peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

"All of us remain concerned that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir should be solved through peaceful negotiations and should be willing to lend all the strength we have to the resolution of this matter," said President Mandela of South Africa, who took over as Chairman of the 12th NAM Summit on Wednesday.

In his inaugural address to the summit which opened here Wednesday morning, Mandela urged the Movement to lend its full weight to this outstanding issue which is a matter of concern to the whole world.

It is notable that President Mandela's expression of concern for Jammu and Kashmir is that of the most senior and most respected leader of the non-aligned countries. President Mandela is a man of great stature and worldwide standing.

President Mandela's call for a solution to the Kashmir dispute reflects the growing concern within the Non-Aligned Movement and the international community about the urgency of finding a just settlement of this core issue which is the root cause of tension and conflict in South Asia.

The 114 Non-Aligned member countries who were represented at the Head of State and Government and other high levels were of the view that the initiative taken by President Mandela at this historic international meet will persuade India to enter into substantive negotiations on Kashmir.

Many participants in the Summit described this as a vindication of Pakistan's principled position on this issue and a victory for its foreign policy.

Earlier, the South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki had also raised the Jammu and Kashmir issue in his meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee emphasizing the need to intensify the efforts for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan for an early resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, who is heading the Pakistan delegation to this Summit, has expressed his satisfaction at the reference to Kashmir in President Mandela's address on this historic occasion.

He noted the President Mandela, who is a symbol of struggle against oppression and a champion of the cause of freedom and liberty, has appropriately considered it fit to bring this issue to the urgent attention of the world community for a just and early settlement.

Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, while highly appreciating President Mandela's remarks on Kashmir said this would constitute a significant step towards yet greater involvement of the international community with this just cause.

He particularly expressed happiness that President Mandela had called for lending all the strength to the resolution of this dispute.

Giving his reaction to the world media, over the inclusion of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in President Mandela's address to the Summit, Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad welcomed the initiative taken by President Mandela.

Mandela is a leader of great vision and stature whose voice and opinion is heard with the greatest of respect throughout the world, he said.

His espousal of the Kashmir people who like the people of South Africa earlier, were now waging a heroic fight against oppression and alien occupation and for the realization of their inalienable right of self-determination, Shamshad said.

President Mandela's expression of support has set an example for the international community to boldly voice their own expression of support for the oppressed people of Kashmir and join in the efforts for finding a just and expeditious settlement of the long-standing unresolved issue of Kashmir.

The Foreign Secretary called upon India to reciprocate Pakistan's sincere efforts for resumption of a meaningful and substantive dialogue on the basis of the agreement reached in Islamabad on June 23, 1997. He was confident that President Mandela's call will give a new impetus to the efforts for the just and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Meanwhile, the Non-Aligned Summit has rejected India's discourse on its nuclear piety as a gross distorting of facts and history.

Reacting strongly to India's allegation that the ANC leadership had during the course of its struggle against apartheid characterized the destruction of South African nuclear arsenal as an "act of denial" by the White regime, which did not trust the black man with nuclear weapons, South African delegation said that this contention was totally unacceptable and amounted to an abuse by India of South African hospitality and a denigration of the historic struggle of the people of South Africa against apartheid.

The terse South African rejoinder came during an intensely charged debate on South Asian nuclear tests in the Political Committee. Delegates attending the NAM Summit, were shocked at India, with little sensitivity to the South African hosts persisted with its philosophic justification of nuclear tests by castigating 'nuclear apartheid."

Several other countries refused to accept India's justification for its nuclear tests and accused India of violating NAM principles and position on nuclear testings. The representative of Malawi stated that they could not accept the "apology" of India, which had arrogantly boasted that it was a 'Nuclear weapon state" and that "this fact could not be undone."

Earlier, Pakistan drew attention to the perilous security situation in South Asia and the threats of the use of force including of nuclear weapons held out against it by India, that had obliged Pakistan to restore strategic balance by conducting its nuclear tests. Pakistan delegate, Ambassador Munir Akram apprised the Conference of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which had become a nuclear flash point. Pakistan urged the NAM to stop India from perpetrating a campaign of terror against the Kashmiri people, support efforts for resolution of the Kashmiri people, support efforts for resolution of the Kashmir dispute, call for nuclear stabilization and restraint including non-weaponization and non-deployment of nuclear weapons and missile systems by India.

Informed sources said that India had adopted an obstructionist approach and was abusing the NAM consensus principle to prevent objective references to nuclear tests and the Kashmir issue in the Final Declaration.


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