June 2004 News

Kashmir solution must be win-win for all 

21 June 2004
The Nation

Qingdao: The leaders of Pakistan and India need to meet to push forward the peace process in Kashmir, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said Monday after talks with his Indian counterpart. Kasuri, who met Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh for the first time Monday, said it was essential that President Pervez Musharraf hold talks with new Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 'The leaders of the two countries have to meet,' he said. 'We have to find a solution which they can both live with and which lives up to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. 'I'm not talking of concessions, I'm talking of a statesmanlike resolution of the dispute in which everybody wins, most importantly the people of Jammu and Kashmir, apart from the people of India and Pakistan.' The two sides began a fragile peace process in April 2003 when India's then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee offered a 'hand of friendship.' Kasuri said involving the people of Kashmir in the peace process was the road to successfully resolving the dispute. Asked by reporters what prospects he saw for peace in the war ravaged region, he replied: 'We want durable peace. The sooner we involve the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the peace process, the better it will be. 'I'm not laying down preconditions, it's a matter of pure common sense that if we want durable peace we have to involve the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 'This is a challenge to the leadership of Pakistan and India, that we resolve the issue in a way that there is no humiliation for Pakistan or India, and that it meets the expectations and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 'It is a win-win for all. I think it's doable.' Kasuri, Natwar hold two-hour meeting: The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan met Monday for the time since the new Indian government was sworn in last month, embracing before and after a two hour meeting. Natwar Singh and Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri held a one hour 40 minute working lunch then spent 20 minutes alone in the gardens of the venue for a gathering of regional foreign ministers here. The two men were seen gesticulating as they engaged in a passionate private debate. They had shaken hands and embraced for the cameras before the lunch and left the garden with arms around each other's shoulders before hugging for the gathered media. 'The chemistry was pretty good,' said Singh. They were meeting for the first time since India's Congress Party headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sworn in on May 22 after its surprise victory over the Hindu nationalist administration. Before the meeting Monday Kasuri told AFP he was positive about relations with the new Indian government. 'I would like to build on trust, because the most important thing between the two countries at the moment is that we try and build trust and understanding and that will help us to meet the difficulties ahead of us,' he said. Kasuri says trust-building top priority Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri told AFP he was positive about relations with the new Indian government because both countries had a strong desire to make peace. 'I'm generally optimistic,' . 'The government of India has recently come through the elections, they know what the people want, and I'm absolutely certain that there is now a strong peace constituency in both Pakistan and in India.' Kasuri said that while Pakistan had built 'a degree of trust' with the old Indian government, he had been encouraged by statements by its successor that it wanted to take the process even further. '(Indian Foreign Minister) Natwar Singh's own statements have been positive, and he has in fact told me that he plans to take the process forward and at a faster pace than the old ... government did,' he said. Kasuri said that as 'a realist' he would respect whatever verdict the Indian people made in the polls. 'We will deal with whoever comes to power in India, whoever is in power in India,' he said. 'The reason is simple. I attach a lot of importance to the relations between Pakistan and India. They have a great bearing on the fate of the entire South Asia, which has 20 percent of the whole humanity,' he said. Both India and Pakistan were facing strong incentives to move the peace process forward after decades of wars, conflict and tension, he said. 'Neither Pakistan nor India is in a position to inflict its will militarily on the issue of Kashmir on the other side. So what option do we have?' he said. 'Then there is the international community. It's encouraging both sides to go forward with the peace process,' he said. Kasuri said that at the present stage, trust-building was the top priority for the two South Asian countries. 'I would like to build on trust, because the most important thing between the two countries at the moment is that we try and build trust and understanding and that would help us to meet the difficulties ahead of us,' he said. Both sides faced major problems that needed to be resolved if a durable peace in South Asia was to be brought about, he said. 'In order that it provides maximum flexibility to the leaders on both the sides, we need to develop that trust,' he said.

 

Return to the Archives 2004 Index Page

Return to Home Page