Insisting upon UN resolutions on Kashmir is not viable
9 July 2001
The News International
KARACHI: An expert in foreign relations and former ambassador Afzaal Mehmood held the opinion that insisting only upon the UN resolutions-based solution of Kashmir issue by Pakistan is not viable as Pakistan has no support of major world powers, including China, in this regard and even the UN chief Kofi Annan termed the resolutions not workable during his visit to Pakistan.Talking to The News on Monday, Afzaal Mehmood, who also remained Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner in India in the late seventies, said the political and economic pressures from within and outside has compelled both the countries to come to negotiating table. However, he said, Pakistan is under more pressure than India as major international powers, due to certain reasons, are favouring India especially owing to the geo-political scenario of the region and so the situation is more difficult for Pakistan. He said the factors which enabled Pakistan to maintain a certain balance of power in the region and to counter Indian threat in past are no more there now.Regarding the Kashmir issue, he said no major world power, even China, agreesa with us regarding our insistence on a UN resolutions-based solution and even the UN Chief Kofi Annan termed the resolutions unworkable on our own soil. In this situation, he said, we should not stick to our present position and try to find a negotiated settlement with India. India, on the other hand, should also show flexibility as the current situation is adversally affecting her on a large scale in so many ways, he said.When asked wether the powers that matter in Pakistan are really serious in favouring a negotiated settlement of Kashmir issue with India, Afzaal Mehmood said that all the concerned quarters have come to realise that competing with India in arms race has now become practically impossible. According to him, there is a realisation that India, due to its designs of becoming a major power of the region, its expanding economy and with the support of the world powers, will keep on increasing its arsenal in the coming future. Owing to its economic conditions Pakistan will not be able to compete with her in the arms race. Besides, Pakistan and India, especially the former, are under pressure from the US, the EU and Japan for settling their disputes as these countries fear a nuclear war in the region if peace is not established between the two.Replying to a question regarding the theory that presence of a military government in Pakistan and a right wing Hindu nationalist government in India provides an ideal opportunity for the solution of core issue of Kashmir, he said, "Yes! The theory carries weight. The right wing forces in India believe that the BJP will not betray them and the military government in Pakistan enjoys the power that the civilian governments didn"t had had in this regard...So the conditions for a solution or initiating a dialogue in this regard are quite conducive."He was of the view that the proposed Agra Summit is a big step towards normalisation of relations between the two countries but undue expectations regarding a major breakthrough should not be attatched with it. Rather, he said, the summit is expected to open ways for future dialogue and the institutional framework for the solution of disputes. In this connection, summits on a regular basis between heads of states of the two countries can be decided upon and ministerial commissions can be constituted to work out solutions of various issues. Even if these goals are achieved, the summit would be regarded a success, he said.Answering a question regarding agenda of the talks, he said the Kashmir issue will certainly dominate the talks. Besides, other issues like the proposed gas pipe-line between Iran and India may also come up under the discussion.Afzaal Mehmood welcomed the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) by both the countries, like the release of Pakistani fishermen and the Indian national Vikas Singh and said more may come in this regard in the near future. He said the practical solution to the Kashmir dispute would be one in which both India and Pakistan show flexibility in their present positions and all sections of Kashmiris were also consulted. When asked about the reaction of religious and the Jihadi organisations in case a solution contrary to the present position of Pakistan comes into being, he said the military government is capable of handling of any situation created by any quarter in this regard.Asked to comment on the visits to India and Pakistan by Ahmad Faraz, Lucky Ali and Shatrughan Sinha, he said it is possible that the visits may have the blessings of the respective foreign offices to create good feelings in the minds of the peoples of two countries.