Whiff in the air is that India and Pakistan have no option but to be friends. In friendship lies their prosperity. Acrimony of the past needs to be buried – buried deep never to return. They have to be friends on equal footing. And for sinking their differences there has to be a permanent engagement between them. This is how the international fraternity looks at the relations between the two countries
No doubt in keeping with the wishes of the international Community particularly the United Stated, the two countries spread out sails of friendship four years back and now all that it has been waiting for is favorable winds to sail it across. If one reads between the lines the messages that emanated at the two day Third International Peace Conference titled Kashmir A way Forward at the Palace of West Minister, House of Commons the two nations have to work in tandem for achieving the goal of lasting peace in the region. The tone and tenor of the conference was peace. True, in all the sixth sessions of the two day conference focus was on resolution of the Kashmir dispute but it would be naive to call that 'India bashing.' There was no "India bashing" an impression that was given by the National Conference President on his return from London Conference. The National Conference President did not sit through out the conference but participated in one of the sessions in which he made his presentation. Others who made their presentation in this session were Executive Director, Kashmir Centre Brussels, Majid Tramboo, PM AJK, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Fabian Hamilton and Ershad Malik. The session was chaired by John Cushnahan. There was no India bashing in any of the presentations in this session also. It was deep yearning for the resolution of the Kashmir problem that dominated all the session including the one that was under debate. Some voices against participation of the NC president outside the conference hall cannot be considered part of the proceedings inside and they too cannot be labeled as 'India bashing'. The Conference was held in a democratic atmosphere. The democratic temperament of the conference was put to test when one Kashmir Born London based freelance journalist Ghazal Pervez Saif questioned Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed about the human rights violations in Pakistan. Making selective reading from a human rights report brought out by Asia Watch the young journalist wanted the Senator to respond to the report about the situation in Pakistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir. In a most democratic atmosphere the Pakistani Senator responded about the human rights situation in Pakistan and AJK PM replied the queries about the human rights violations across the LoC. Or when Manisha Sobhrajani a New Delhi based researcher working for the Fault Line asked Senator Mushahid to respond to the situation in Northern Areas.
The question that comes to mind is that can yearning for the resolution of the problem be construed as 'India bashing' – no it cannot be but it needs to be seen as people friendly, as in the resolution of this problem lies the prosperity of teeming millions living in different parts of the sub-continent. The organizers of the conference the Justice Foundation had structured it around three basic themes. One, role of the international community in the resolution of the problem, two, impediments in dialogue between India and Pakistan and three, models for resolution. Most of the speakers saw a far greater role for the international community in the resolutions of the problem as they believed that the bilateral process has not grown beyond procrastination. Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed who could be taken as an authentic Pakistani voice in the conference said, "The legitimacy of Kashmir issue was still in the United Nations resolutions, as late 1998, the United Nations adopted another resolution asking Secretary General of the UN to impress upon India and Pakistan to take initiative for resolution of the Kashmir problem that was a way forward. He said status quo was not tenable not because Pakistan does not want it but because it was not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan Ambassador Maleeh Lodhi Called LoC as 'Line of Conflict' and stated that this line was part of problem and not part of solution. She also held the view that status quo was not the solution but potent threat to peace in the region. Many Kashmiri participants in the conference were of the view that the International Community, particularly the United States shall have to mediate between India and Pakistan to find out a solution of the problem. There was substantial presence of experts in the conference who had worked in forging Good Friday agreement between Ireland and England in. This included, Mr. John Cushnahan, Paul Rowen, Brendan Macalister and Andrew Carl, Executive Director Conciliation Resources United Kingdom.
Mr. John Cushnahan, Former Chairman Foreign Relation Committee in the European Parliament saw parallels between Ireland and Kashmir and believed that Ireland formula could hold a torch in taking Kashmir problem out of dark tunnel towards a solution and he saw an all inclusive dialogue as a way forward. Mr. Paul Rowen, M.P. also asked for drawing lessons from the contemporary peace process in Ireland. The greatest lesson of Ireland is that we have to open our hearts and mind for arriving at acceptable proposition. The process was not simple as it may have ups and downs but continued engagement is important. Ms. Lyn Brown Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs who chaired the human rights session and stressed that peace will be the greatest dividend if India Pakistan engagement converges on the settlement of Kashmir according to aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Brendan Macalister of Mediation Ireland asked the Kashmiris to harmonize their voice in singular tone to make it pleasing and acceptable because the people cause is more important than personal priorities. There is undoubtedly an impression in the international community that Kashmiris are a divided voice that has been coming in the way of the resolution of the problem. True there are many pigeonholes in Kashmir politics but it would be wrong to believe that there are discordant voices on fundamental issue – there is hardly any of the political parties in Kashmir that does not believe in right to self-determination.
It was different experience than on many previous occasions the Kashmiris whether from this side of the Control Line or other side or Kashmiri Diaspora or those professing pro-India politics or Pro-Independence politics or those in favour of accession with Pakistan were one voice in rejecting the status quo. They were one voice over dismantling of the Line of Control and vehemently pleaded for uniting of the two parts of Kashmir. A good suggestion for making the LoC irrelevant came up from Raja Zulqarnain Khan, of Haft Chinar Srinagar now President AJK, he said that the state subject law continued to in vogue on both the sides of LoC. This state subject certificate could be converted into smart card that could be used people from all the two sides of Kashmir for traveling across the LoC.
Kashmiris want to get united then decide their future was the real message that emerged from the London Conference.
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