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Hurriyat welcomes US diplomat’s observer proposal


Srinagar : Kashmir’s main pro-independence alliance All Parties Hurriyat Conference Friday welcomed the proposal by a former US diplomat to mediate in the Kashmir issue and to appoint a special observer in the sub-continent.

A former American diplomat last week proposed the appointment of a high-ranking US envoy in an effort to promote a settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.

“We should appoint a high-ranking envoy to negotiate with the two parties on a resolution in Kashmir,” Wendy Chamberlin, who served as ambassador to Pakistan (2001-02), said during a television discussion on the post-election scenario in the country.

Chamberlin added that a resolution of the dispute could help stamp down threat of extremism as she underlined the need for establishing peace in South Asia.

The spokesman of the Hurriyat G, Ayaz Akbar, termed the suggestion as “dairaayad, durust aayad” (better late than never), saying that the US should have taken such steps long ago, because Kashmiris expect the UN to play an effective role in resolving the Kashmir issue.

“Welcoming the proposal, the Hurriyat (Geelani) hopes that the appointment of a special UN observer would be an important step in resolving the Kashmir issue,” he said.

“Kashmir has become the bone of contention not only between India and Pakistan, but is also a threat to world peace,” he said.

“The Hurriyat is pleased that even if late, the world has nevertheless realized the seriousness of resolving the issue,” he said.

Shabir Ahmad Shah, senior leader of the Mirwaiz-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference, too, welcomed the proposal and said that his alliance wanted the UN to play an effective role in resolving the Kashmir issue, and in this connection, the European Union and the UN should oversee talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris so that the process leads to its logical conclusion.

“The Kashmiri people have offered sacrifices, and they will not be allowed to be frittered away. Sooner or later, the UN will have to play its role with respect to Kashmir,” he said.

In order to strengthen US counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan, Chamberlin emphasised that the US should see that “road to peace in Pakistan leads through New Delhi.” The former diplomat, who now heads a Washington think tank, reminded that it was tension over the Kashmir dispute that had pushed the two countries to the threat of a nuclear war and underscored that peace and security in the region hinges on Pakistan-India relationship.

“I think we’re in a new era. I think that this has been a watershed election, and I don’t think that we should be tied to what happened in the past. We ought to see what ought to be in the future, and that’s what we ought to target,” she said in answer to a question about prospects for success of such an initiative.

Karl Inderfurth, the former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, noted that President Musharraf has led Pakistan in establishing a relationship and a dialogue with India that saw some progress on the long-standing dispute.

“Ever since their close to confrontation in 2001 and 2002, they have done thing – Musharraf and Manmohan Singh – to place Pakistan- India relations on a path toward normalizing this relationship. He was optimistic that if the leaders of two large Pakistani parties, PPP and PML-N follow a peace approach, “we can see some real progress on Pakistan-Indian relations, including on Kashmir, which they both recognize must be resolved.” Dennis Kux, a former State Department official, said, ” For the stability of Pakistan and so that it can focus on dealing with its many domestic problems, it would be very helpful if the frontier problems with India and Afghanistan were resolved.

In the case of India, this concerns the Kashmir dispute, and I hope that Islamabad and Delhi can continue to make progress toward a resolution of this long-standing dispute.

In the case of Afghanistan, Pakistan already accepts the Durand Line as the frontier.

It is in the interest of Afghanistan that it also accept this border.”