February 2004 News

Pakistan will not desert Kashmiris

19 February 2004
The Nation

Lahore: Pakistan will not desert the Kashmiris and there would be no sellout on the core issue, said the Foreign Office Spokesman Masood Khan while speaking here at a seminar on Thursday. 'There will not be any sell out on the Kashmir issue. We will go with open eyes into the negotiations and the people should have confidence in their representatives as they have in their state and government,' Khan said at a seminar on Pakistan-India Talks, Its Impact on Regional Peace and SAARC held under the auspices of South Asian Centre with the collaboration of Takshila. He said there was no change in Pakistan stance and position and flexibility about which President Musharraf talked must be reciprocal. Kashmir was a central issue, we have to resolve it and the violations of human rights in Kashmir must come to an end. ' If there is de-escalation in Indian Held Kashmir it would have positive impact on peace process,' he added. He said under no circumstances Kashmiris would be deserted and their rights would be protected. He added that at a suitable time Kashmiris would be included in the peace process and dialogue between Pakistan and India. He said both Islamabad and Kashmiris wanted peaceful resolution of Kashmir problem and now India had also realized that this issue should be addressed as it could not be put under the carpet. He said what we needed now was to find a solution, accepted to all parties. He said Kashmir was not an intractable issue and it was amenable to solutions provided you have the political will at the top government level. Talking about the nuclear CBMs Khan said these would be discussed at experts level who would report their recommendations to Foreign Secretaries. He added that we already had an MoU reached at in 1999 as well as the understanding to notify each other before ballistic flight tests. He said that he did not think that India would reject the restraint regime out of hand and they would show interest in it as any accidental nuclear conflict could have disastrous impact on the peace and stability of region. Speaking on the occasion former foreign secretary Akram Zaki said South Asian nuclearization and 9-11 events were the major landmarks that impacted the situation in this region. He said there was no external pressure on Pakistan and India to initiate peace process but certainly there were some persuasions from friendly states who wanted to avert war in this region. He said the roadmap prepared by the two neighboring states in Islamabad was significant and let us hope that it would lead to the desired objectives. However, he added that unless and until the conflicts were resolved the dreams of regional cooperation could not be realized. Other eminent analysts Air Marshal ( retired ) Ayaz Ahmed Khan and Gen ( retired ) Talat Masood said there was a fundamental shift in Pak-India mindset and we needed to convince ourselves about that as in that way the doubts and suspicions about the positive outcome of Pak-India talks could be removed. They said both the countries paid heavy price for perpetual confrontation and now that they had opted for cooperation a sustained dialogue must be ensued to resolve the conflicting matters.


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