Indo-Pak Talks In US Leave Kashmiris Confused
16 September 2005
The Times of India
Srinagar: The common Kashmiri is confused about the goings-on in New York where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, saying the intricacies of diplomacy and their likely impact on their lives are lost on them. Separatist politicians and the masses alike also don't know what to make of Musharraf's address to the UN General Assembly during which he referred to UN resolutions to resolve the Kashmir dispute. 'Any meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan is always to be construed as a big step towards not only improving relations, but also the resolving of the Kashmir dispute as well,' said professor Abdul Gani Bhat, a senior leader of the moderate Hurriyat faction. Musharraf had said in his address to the General Assembly: 'Peace and justice must ... ...come to the peoples of Palestine as well as Jammu and Kashmir. 'We must not only be prepared to proclaim our principles; we must defend them and, above all, live up to them. Resolutions of the United Nations, especially the Security Council's decisions, must be implemented.' Asked whether this would take away the flexibility that the moderate Hurriyat faction needs while negotiating with New Delhi and Islamabad, Bhat said, 'The whole point of parleys and negotiations is flexibility and there can be no dialogue unless all the involved parties accept this basic principle.' Bhat, however, believes that Musharraf has more power to move forward on Kashmir than the Indian prime minister - whom the moderate faction had met only last week. 'President Musharraf controls both the army and the people of Pakistan. Manmohan Singh is a politician and he is naturally more constrained than the Pakistan head of state in taking giant leaps towards the resolution of Kashmir,' he said. 'But I believe things are moving in the right direction and there is no reason for pessimism though it would take time to reach the final objective of resolution.' In contrast, pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik... ... believes there is nothing in the joint statement issued by the two countries after Singh and Musharraf met Wednesday night that should enthuse Kashmiris. 'They haven't moved beyond well drafted words which we have now been hearing for long. Where is the possible roadmap?' Malik said here. As for the common man, he is certainly confused about what actually happened in New York. 'President Musharraf has invited Prime Minister Singh to Pakistan. The invitation has been accepted. But violence is on as usual in Kashmir,' said Farooq Ahmad, 27, a college student here. 'Encounters continue both inside and on the borders between the security forces... ... and the militants. Politicians talk of more time and it has already been more than 16 years of suffering for us.' It is possible that expectations from the meeting between the leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly were high among Kashmiris but when it finally took place, the nuances of diplomacy were lost on them. 'The focus of the India-Pakistan dialogue has to be the common Kashmiri and his pitiable plight. Agreements and intentions must be translated on ground. Unless that happens, it is mere diplomacy for us,' said Muzaffar Ahmad, a teacher of political science at a college here. 'It is in the interest of many politicians, both in the separatist and the mainstream political camps if status quo in the situation continues. But, we are the actual sufferers.'