Shift in Kashmir policy criticized
16 August 2004
Our Staff Reporter
Islamabad: United Kingdom House of Lords member Lord Nazir Ahmed has criticized what he termed Pakistan's clear deviation from its stated position on Kashmir while pursuing a dialogue with India. In an interview here, Lord Nazir said 'There clearly appears to be a hidden agenda dictated by external forces which the Foreign Office is religiously pursuing without taking along the core issue of Kashmir.' He said that had the authorities been sincere in putting Kashmir on top of their agenda in talks with India, they should have involved representatives of Kashmiris and taken them into confidence at the outset of their dialogue. He said that while India continued to stick to its position that Kashmir was its integral part, Pakistani authorities were not only mysteriously silent on putting the issue on their agenda but stressed the need for flexibility in order to achieve friendship. While Islamabad was clearly showing a shift in its stand on the freedom struggle under United States pressure, India was continuing blood-letting of Kashmiris with 12 to 15 people being killed by forces daily, he said. He said India was not allowing international observers or United Nations monitors to report human rights violations in held Kashmir. He expressed the apprehension that there might be some secret understanding on making the Line of Control a permanent ceasefire line between the two countries. Entering into cultural and trade relations with India without seeking a solution to the Kashmir dispute acceptable to the Kashmiris would adversely affect Pakistan's cultural structure and trade balance, he said. 'Some people are eager to start shopping trips to India but I feel that Pakistan will be the loser in such a situation as Indian goods are cheaper than Pakistani ones.'