February 2002 News

Kissinger’s mission Kashmir

1 February 2002
The Statesman
Kavita Suri

Jammu: Former US secretary of state Mr Henry Kissinger, who recently visited India, was entrusted with the task of sounding out the Indian leadership on “possible solutions to the Kashmir problem.” Mr Kissinger, who as secretary of state to Richard Nixon had drafted “solutions” to such problems as the Vietnam conflict, came as an unofficial interlocutor. The All Party Hurriyat Conference chief, Mr Abdul Ghani Bhat, said Mr Kissinger was in India on “Mission Kashmir”. “Yes, he (Mr Kissinger) was on Mission Kashmir and it was a US initiative,” Mr Bhat said. During his visit to India, Mr Kissinger met the home minister, Mr LK Advani, and Mr KC Pant, the Centre’s chief interlocutor on Kashmir. The external affairs ministry said the meetings were “purely courtesy calls”. Sources said the former US secretary of state “discussed Kashmir in detail during these meetings”. He also reportedly met Hurriyat leaders in Delhi. The APHC refused to comment on this issue. Sources said during Mr Kissinger’s talks with Indian leaders “all options” came up. These included conversion of the Line of Control into International Border, more autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, plebiscite and “independence”. Apparently, Mr Kissinger asked Indian leaders to consider multiple options as “that was the only way to find a solution”. Indian leaders, sources said, were willing to consider the option of giving more autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir only. But Mr Advani reportedly said going back to the pre-1953 status was not possible even if the government decided to grant more autonomy to the state. Interestingly, the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mr Farooq Abdullah said: “Americans are already here as far as the Kashmir issue is concerned”. He said: “The USA was in the know of things very well and was trying to play a friendly role in both countries...Now I believe they (the US government) are trying to find a way forward which is necessary for peace in the two countries.”

 

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