Kashmir Panel Wants India-Pakistan To Speed Up Talks
17 September 2005
New Delhi: Separatists in Indian Kashmir have urged India and Pakistan to speed up peace moves to resolve a long-running dispute over the Himalayan region, days after summit talks between the neighbours ended in a stalemate. The call from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella alliance of Kashmiri political groups, came after the panel's chief held talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York late on Friday. 'Hurriyat Conference feels that we need to strengthen the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan,' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the alliance, told reporters. 'But along with this, we believe that there is a need to speed up the dialogue process and have more confidence-building measures,' Farooq said after the meeting. 'The human rights situation should also be improved in the (Kashmir) valley.' The Musharraf-Farooq talks took place two days after the Pakistani president met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to push forward peace moves that began two years ago. However, those talks apparently failed to build on the peace process. The two leaders merely reaffirmed their desire to continue talks without setting concrete objectives or announcing any new initiatives as officials and analysts had expected. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said Farooq briefed Musharraf about the first talks between Hurriyat and the Indian prime minister in New Delhi this month. 'Our main aim is to find an amicable solution that is favourable for Kashmiris and is also acceptable to both India and Pakistan,' Kasuri said. The nearly 60- year territorial dispute over Kashmir is at the heart of India- Pakistan enmity and the cause of two of their three wars. Both countries rule a part of the Himalayan region but claim it in full. They were at the brink of a fourth war in 2002 over Indian allegations that Pakistan was fomenting a revolt against New Delhi's rule in Kashmir which has killed tens of thousands of people since 1989. Pakistan has denied the charge and says it only gives moral support for Kashmiri separatists. It has has also decried what it calls widespread abuses by Indian troops in Kashmir. In the past two years, the two sides have pulled back and launched fresh moves to make peace. But they have made slow progress over resolving the Kashmir dispute. Hurriyat bands two dozen groups, some of which advocate independence for Kashmir and others, merger with Pakistan. Farooq wants the dispute to be settled through trilateral talks with India and Pakistan respecting Kashmiri sentiments.