India's proposal on demarcation of points along LoC rejected
24 January 2005
B. Muralidhar Reddy
Islamabad: Pakistan has rejected the Indian proposal for demarcation of five points along the Line of Control (LoC) to facilitate the reunion of divided families on the plea that it would violate the dignity of Kashmiris. The proposal was made by the Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, to his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Khokar, at the Foreign Secretary-level talks in the last week of December. To a question on Pakistan's response , the Foreign Office spokesman, Masood Khan, told a news conference here that Mr. Khokar had made clear to his Indian counterpart that any proposal, which did not take into account the dignity and honour of the Kashmiris, could not be considered. 'With barbed wires on one side, we just cannot herd them [Kashmiris] to meeting points,' he said . Pakistan and India should try to start the bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar at the earliest.He maintained that Kashmir was disputed territory and as such travel on passports and visas would give it a quasi-permanent status. On the World Bank's clarification on Pakistan's request for arbitration on the Baglihar project, Mr. Khan said the Bank had said that it was not a guarantor under the Indus Waters Treaty. But at the same time it had outlined its role in the appointment of neutral experts and a court of arbitration, if necessary. The World Bank had acknowledged Pakistan's reference. 'They said they will act according to the Treaty,' Mr. Khan said and that the Bank had also stated that it had 'some residual responsibility' in the appointment of neutral experts, financing the arbitration and the formation of a court of arbitration, if necessary. India and Pakistan could resort to a consultation process if the former stopped work on the project and provided the construction schedule to Pakistan. 'Even in the interim stage if India wants to stop work and share the status of construction, this will make the task of experts much easier,' Mr. Khan said. On reports that Pakistan had considered going to the International Court of Justice in view of the World Bank's clarification that it was not a guarantor, Mr. Khan said Pakistan had not considered that option.