January 2006 News

Pakistan To Formally Table Kashmir Plan

16 January 2006
The Nation

Islamabad: Pakistan will formally table its Kashmir plan of 'self-rule and demilitarisation' in the disputed territory in the two-day foreign secretary level talks commencing today in New Delhi, said officials here, but they do not expect any breakthrough on the core issue and other bilateral disputes. 'Indo-Pak peace dialogue had gained some momentum by the middle of last year but the recurrence of Indian allegations about cross border terrorism and now the Indian interference in Balochistan harmed the whole process,' said a senior official here on the eve of third round of composite dialogue for which Pakistani delegation, led by Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, reached the Indian capital on Monday. The official said that India had hinted to come up with new ideas on people-to-people interaction but Pakistan would stress upon the need to start serious discussions on Kashmir at formal talks. In this regard, Islamabad would also formally table its self-rule and demilitarisation plan before India, he said, adding so far nothing could be said about Indian reaction to this move owing to its persistent resistance to meaningful negotiations on the core issue during the formal talks. He, however, refused to divulge the details of self-rule plan proposed earlier by President Musharraf and now being presented to India after some fine-tuning by the relevant official quarters. Asked what could be the fresh ideas by India as reported by its media, the official said the indications we had received reflected new suggestions on increased contacts between the people of India and Pakistan. He said India thought such ideas could push forward the sluggish peace process but we believed it would be the start of formal talks on Kashmir that could break the stalemate. 'It is the time now to start these negotiations as during the last two-year-long peace process no progress has been made on this front,' he said. He said another vital issue that would be raised by Foreign Secretary Khan was that of interference by India in Balochistan, which had created bad blood between the two sides. 'India would be plainly told to back off,' he maintained. He said Pakistan's foreign secretary and his Indian counterpart, Shyam Saran, would also deliberate upon Siachen, Sir Creek and other matters on composite dialogue agenda along with discussions on Kashmir and Peace and Security. However, he said because of prevailing deadlock no major breakthrough was expected on any matter except devising a schedule of official meetings on these issues in the months to come. Agencies adds: India will propose fresh ideas to infuse momentum into the latest round of peace talks with Pakistan this week, an official said, but analysts warned that a breakthrough on Kashmir is unlikely. 'There will be fresh ideas on the table,' when the two foreign secretaries meet in New Delhi Tuesday and Wednesday (today and tomorrow) for the third round of talks, the senior Indian official said. The ideas would include increased contacts between the people of the two countries, the official said on condition of anonymity. Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said the foreign secretaries would discuss the Kashmir dispute and ways to maintain peace and security, besides setting the agenda for a meeting between the two foreign ministers later this year. The launch of new transport links between India and Pakistan and the two zones of Kashmir will also be discussed, he said. Pakistan will put forward some 'proposals' and 'ideas' on Kashmir issue as also on peace and security during the talks. Pakistan hopes for constructive discussion with India during the third round of the dialogue process, said Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam, who would be accompanying the delegation headed by Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan. The issues of Kashmir and peace and security including confidence building measures are the items of agenda for the third round, she said. 'We have some proposals and ideas to discuss with the Indian side on these issues', she told state-run PTV. Pakistan was expected to forward its proposals on self governance and demilitarisation of some of the key towns including Srinagar as steps to take forward the dialogue process to resolve Kashmir issue. 'Entering into third round of dialogue is itself a significant development and we hope for positive discussion', she said adding that Pakistani delegation is going for talks with positive approach and hopefully the discussion would help indicate the direction of dialogue process in the future. But analysts have warned against expecting any breakthroughs on Kashmir in this week's round. 'I don't think there will be any great announcements of a breakthrough on Kashmir,' said former Indian foreign secretary Shashank. Pakistani analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said India 'will not accept demilitarisation proposals in the present circumstances because it fears infiltration of militants is continuing from Pakistan. 'Pakistan wants to change the status quo while India wants to maintain it.' Another political commentator, MA Niazi, said the stuttering peace talks had so far achieved few concrete results. 'There has been virtually zero progress on Kashmir, except that a bus service is running (across) the divided zone and India has allowed Kashmiri leaders to come to Pakistan,' Niazi said. Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan expressed the hope that Pak- India talks at the third round of composite dialogue would be constructive. He was talking to the media persons on his arrival in New Delhi. 'I am looking forward to these talks and we hope the talks will be constructive. We have to proceed with a certain touch of positive expectations',he added.


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