January 2003 News

New body to replace Kashmir committee

3 January 2003
The Dawn
Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD: The government has planned to replace the National Kashmir Committee with a new committee to project the Kashmir dispute abroad in a proper way. The existing Kashmir body says it could not do its job well because of inaction and lack of support from official quarters. President Pervez Musharraf had informed the existing committee chairman, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, about plans of dissolving the body set up early last year with members from all the four provinces and Kashmir, and let the new National Assembly form a new group, a Kashmiri source said on Friday. This move followed a letter of Qayyum, a former AJK president and prime minister, to Gen Musharraf listing his concerns about the straitjacket he found himself in and seeking guidance on the future of his one-year-old group. 'Upon resumption of its normal business, the National Assembly is likely to establish its own committee on Kashmir, warranting dissolution of the existing committee under your chairmanship,' said a reply sent to Sardar Qayyum by the president's chief of Staff Lt-Gen Hamid Javaid. But Gen Javaid's letter, a copy of which was made available to Dawn on Friday, told the veteran Kashmiri leader that his observations- that 'can help in improving (the) performance of the envisaged new committee' - had been conveyed to the prime minister's secretariat. It also advised the Kashmiri leader to brief his successor at the appropriate time about the likely future challenges and suggest an appropriate strategy to overcome them. QAYYUM'S CONCERNS Qayyum's letter to the president in November said that his committee could make only 'a confused and meagre start', eight months after its formation, because of lack of logistics and initiatives. 'All told, I had no doubt in my mind that the committee was an unwanted affair,' Qayyum said in an obvious reference to the bureaucratic restraints. He described the formation of the committee by President Musharraf in January last year as a 'great initiative', but lamented that 'the system does not permit any initiative'. 'It presupposes only a defensive and reactive response, but not proactive in any case or any form,' said the Kashmiri leader, whose All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference now rules Azad Kashmir. 'The situation demands initiative, but, short of your person, we seem to be scared of initiatives, only lying down in wait for an opportunity to react,' his letter to the president said. 'This in fact defeats the very purpose of this committee. We are bogged down in half-a-century-old conventionalism while this committee is absolutely an unconventional concept.' Qayyum's committee had last year proposed that its prominent member from the NWFP, Ajmal Khattak, should visit India in a move to help break a deadlock in peace talks between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue. But the proposal, welcomed by a counterpart Indian Kashmir Committee headed by veteran politician Ram Jethmalani, apparently failed to impress the foreign ministry in Islamabad while the Indian government was unwilling to resume dialogue with Pakistan. On the contrary, he said, the Indian performance in this field had been 'consistent, target-oriented and objective' while 'we have only been beating about the bush and remain contented over our imaginary achievements'.


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