US, EU asked to help end repression in Kashmir
21 February 2004
Ihtasham ul Haque
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has asked the United States and the European Union to persuade New Delhi to end repression in the occupied Kashmir besides reducing the number of troops there. An official said here on Saturday that international players, especially the Bush administration, have been urged by Pakistan to exercise its influence over India to pull out its 700,000 troops from the occupied Kashmir as was previously assured to Islamabad. 'If we want to take the peace process forward, we should remain focused on talks but that does not mean Pakistan should not raise the matter of the ongoing repression in the Indian-held Kashmir,' the source said. He said the crackdown in the occupied Kashmir was continuing unabated for which international players have been asked to play a positive role and bring this repression to an end. The source said since Pakistan was fulfilling its commitments about ceasefire on the LoC and not allowing the militants to cross over into the IHK, the Indian government should, therefore, reciprocate by ending repression in Kashmir, restore political freedom and free those Kashmiris from jails, who were arrested on fake charges. 'India has to provide an enabling and conducive environment for the dialogue by ending its crackdown in the occupied Valley', he said, adding that the international community also believed that gross human rights violations should come to an end there. In reply to a question as to when would the Kashmiris be included in peace talks, he said without their participation it would perhaps be difficult to achieve a settlement of Kashmir dispute and that they would have to be made part of the negotiations at certain point of time during future talks. 'If plebiscite is not acceptable to India, then it will have to discuss certain mechanism to deal with the issue of Kashmir', he said. An important All-Parties Hurriyat Conference leader and the representative of Syed Ali Gilani in Pakistan, Nazir Shaal, said he hoped that when the dust would settle down, India and Pakistan would seriously start talking about the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. 'And at that time the Kashmiri leadership should be made a part of the dialogue', he said, adding that it was incumbent upon both the countries to discuss and sort out the dispute. Mr Shaal regretted that while Pakistan had responded to the call of the international community and demonstrated vision to settle all outstanding issues, Indian reciprocity could not be seen in terms of ending state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. 'We are seriously concerned about the intensified terror campaign started by India particularly the use of human shields and the killing of innocent citizens in the Valley', the APHC leader said. He called upon the government to take serious notice of the situation and engage the international community so that killing of innocent people in Kashmir could be stopped.