Event ReportsPublished on Apr 28, 2007
Intra Kashmir dialogue is necessary for peace in Kashmir, said former president and prime minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, while delivering an address at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, on April 28, 2007.
Kashmiri leaders from both sides should sit together

“Intra Kashmir dialogue is necessary for peace in Kashmir,” said former president and prime minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, while delivering an address at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, on April 28, 2007.

Appealing to all Kashmiri leaders and groups in India to participate in the talks and conferences being organised by the government to discuss various issues, he said that unless the Kashmiri leaders sat across the table and discussed the issues, there would be no peace in the region.

He led a delegation of 23 members from PoK, which included senior political leaders from different parties, like senior vice-president of Pakistan People’s Party, Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin, senior vice-president of All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference, Raja Farooq Haider Khan, former health minister of PoK, Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob.  Mr. Bhim Singh of Panther’s Party accompanied the delegation.

The distinguished guests were received at ORF by Ambassador M Rasgotra, former foreign secretary, who is presently chairman, National Security Advisory Board, Adviser to ORF Chairman. A galaxy of well-known diplomats, academics, mediapersons and analysts attended the meeting. Notable among them were Girish C Saxena, former J&K governor, Ambassador Hamid Ansari, a former ORF Distinguished Fellow and at present chairman, National Minorities Commission, Prof S D Muni, Executive Director at ORF, Mr. N N Vohra, former defence secretary and Mr. HK Dua, Editor, Tribune.

Commenting on the earlier attitude of both Indian and Pakistani governments, Sardar Khan said meeting between Kashmiri leaders were viewed with deep suspicion. “Heaven will not fall down if Kashmiri leaders of both sides meet and discuss their problems. Now, we have started meeting. Has the heaven fallen down?” he asked.

He expressed happiness at the way the India-Pakistan dialogue was moving and praised the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. He said he would like to see a solution to the Kashmir problem in his own lifetime. The resolution of Kashmir problem will pave way for the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Khan said if Kashmiris were taken into confidence they could play an important role in bridging the gap between the two countries.

Referring to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s proposals for restoring peace in Kashmir and the confidence building measures (CBMs), the Sardar defended India, saying that it would be wrong on the part of hardliners in Pakistan to doubt India. “I think India has responded quite adequately. But the problem with India and Pakistan is that one party suggests something, the other rejects it thinking (accepting) as a defeat. I have positive views about this, he said.

During the Question and Answer session, former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Girish Saxena raised the issue of perceived differences about democracy on both sides and also the existence of camps of the militants in the PoK. Sardar Khan denied that the existence of  terrorist camps and said that Kashmiri militancy has come to an end. The only remaining problem was "outsiders" supporting the militancy. He suggested safe passage from Indian government for foreign militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir, saying they would be accepted there. “If they get safe passage, they might return home (Pok). We are ready to accept them. Instead of keeping the irritant here, it is better they are moved to this side (Pok)”.

Concluding the discussion Ambassador M. Rasgotra, hoped that increased people- to people contacts would ultimately lead to making the border between two countries irrelevant.

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