Posted by: Administrator | 10 August, 2006

President Address at the Global Discourse on Kashmir, Brussels

14 September 2006, Brussels

Bismillah Arehman nir Raheem

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished participants ladies and gentlemen, it’s indeed a pleasure and a unique honour and a privilege to be addressing this gathering on the global discourse on Kashmir. Before I say anything, I would like to say here or admit here that Kashmir runs in the blood of every Pakistani. That is the basic. Therefore its solution is essential. Secondly it’s quite an irony that I being a man of war, I am trying to become a man of peace. But may I say that being a man of war and having seen the ravages of war, through being a part of two major wars with India. Being a very active part, and number of scrimmages that we have been with them regularly, having lost friends, my best friend over this conflict with India, my son being named after the death of best friend of mine, I think being a man of war, I am the most qualified person to talk of peace, because I understand the ravages of war. I understand them personally.

Therefore ladies and gentlemen, I am going to set out my views. But what the chairman has said are subjects other than Kashmir, I would be too glad to answer any question that may be bothering you, that may be in your mind. Because Pakistan, as I keep saying is today directly or indirectly involved in every-thing that is of concerned to the world, today the world is concerned about terrorism and countering terrorism and extremism. It is concerned about democracy, human rights, narcotics, nuclear proliferation. These are the five major concerns of the world.

Pakistan has the distinction or dubious distinction of being directly or indirectly involved in each of them. I am happy to answer any of the questions that you have in relations to these concerns. Let me say with full confidence and conviction that we have a response to all issues concerning the world and our region in direct relation to its impact on Pakistan. We have strategised our position and responses. But first let me confine myself on Kashmir.

It is indeed, ladies and gentlemen, a great pleasure for me to address this very important forum on Kashmir organised with the efforts of the International Human Rights centre of Kashmir and all group parties on Kashmir in European Parliament. This group in the European Parliament holds very special significance, as there is no prestigious forum than the European Parliament to deliberate on issues of freedom and human rights, especially in relation to the millions of suffering Kashmiris. This parliament has enjoyed a greater esteem as the voice of conscience and custodian of  human rights and democracy around the world. The people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan and India would be closely watching the deliberations of this conference. The ideas and proposals deliberated upon this meeting can go a long way in resolving the long standing dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, bringing the tragedies of Kashmiris to an end. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute has been at the heart of conflict and tension in South Asia and I have been saying South Asia is one region, which is out of the loop of development in Asia. This century set to be the century of Asia but since South Asia and Central Asia are out of this loop of progress and economic development and this is because of the two elephants of Asia, Pakistan and India are continuously in conflict and war. Therefore, unless we resolve this dispute, we cannot generate the momentum for economic development that other regions of Asia have. It has constricted the progress and development as I have said. Diverting the sources and energies of the two countries away from the tasks that must engage Pakistan and India, to meet the socio economic development of the two countries.

I sincerely believe that today the opportunity exists and it must be seized to resolve the dispute through peaceful dialogue. Improved relation between the two countries and the conducive international environment can help the dialogue to achieve success provided. There are three qualities, which I always keep projecting, that the leaders of the two countries must have. i.e. sincerity, flexibility, courage and boldness. The dialogue must be meaningful. We need to ensure that it does not meet the fate of similar endeavours in the past when little was achieved beyond reaffirmation of good intentions that often redress in polemical exchanges. Every time when two countries fail to resolve the issue, tension rose and the hardship of the people of Kashmir prolonged, unfortunately.

The peace process initiated by Pakistan with India over the last two years, however, has a different back ground. In a transformed regional and international environment, the process has been sustained at different tracks in search of an acceptable settlement. When I say acceptable, it ought to be acceptable first of all to the people of Kashmir and then to Pakistan and India, to make it successful.

The initiation of this process is preceded by an unprecedented confrontation; India has mobilized more than one million troops along our borders in 2002. While we obviously responded in kind. Because we moved our troops forward and confronted them in eyeball to eye ball war like situation. This confrontation between the two nuclear capable neighbours lasted for over one year and called deep concern for the international community. Throughout this period of great grave tension, Pakistan consistently advocated the de-escalation, dialogue and conflict resolution. But, may I add that, it could not be at the cost of honour and dignity of our country. Therefore, while we want peace and stability, it has to be on the basis of sovereign equality and our honour and dignity can never be compromised.

I therefore welcomed the hand of friendship, extended by former Prime Minister of India Mr. Vajpayee that sets the stage for confidence building and efforts to address all issues including Jammu and Kashmir. He invited me to Agra and I went there. During my interaction with Vajpayee for the peace process, I emphasized the progress on Jammu and Kashmir would be crucial and central to the success or failure of the process. Confidence Building Measures initiated by the two countries are certainly important to create a better environment but the peace process has to move beyond CBMs, which are largely a means towards an end and not an end in it themselves. We need to address malaise and not just the symptoms.

The history of “Pakistan India” relations tells us that without removing the main cause of tension and without solving the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the confidence building trust and improvement of relations prove to be fragile and even short lived. Accordingly there is no option but to adopt and earnest approach to solve this problem. There should be quality of leadership on both sides to resolve the disputes, the sincerity to resolve the dispute. Also an international environment should be present. Both these are present at the moment. So this fleeting opportunity should be grasp and move forward towards ultimate peace. The Kashmir dispute should also not be brushed aside as some people suggest, placing it at the back burner and going on other tracks. The dispute involves the fundamental rights and sacrosanct principals of freedom and self-determination of the people. Such issues can never be put in the cold storage. The affected people would never allow it to happen. Kashmir address has to be address quickly and reach an agreement of early settlement.

Following the resumption of dialogue process, efforts for a solution has three aspects. Firstly Kashmir related Confidence Building Measures which help to alleviate the hardship of the Kashmiri people on both sides of line of control. This is first aspect. Second, greater interaction and involvement of the Kashmiri leaders with the process because the first and foremost issue is their future. Last is the focus discussion on the element of the settlement.

The progress has been uneven. Indeed much requires to be done with regards to the settlement. However, as I have often stated, given sincerity, flexibility and courage on all sides, especially on the part of leadership of both the sides with the objective is within reach. We need to engage in an out of box thinking and this term has been used by the leadership on the other side. I borrowed it from them. An out of box solution is required. We have to allow our- selves a room for manoeuvre, without compromising the basic imperative and respect for the aspirations and rights of the people of Kashmir. There has been good progress in putting in place Kashmir related CBMs. The ceasefire on the line of control was announced on Nov. 2003 by Pakistan, we took the initiative, and responded by India. And we are very happy that India has responded, continues to hold today. For those who don’t know what’s the line of control and what was happening there, there was shooting, firing and shelling and killing everyday, deaths and killings everyday. This what has stopped now due to this ceasefire.

Thereafter, Pakistan has taken a lot of confidence building measures in consultation with the Kashmiri leadership from Azad Kashmir and also the Indian held Kashmir. I am very glad that the new Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir is sitting here in front of us.

Initiation of Muzafarabad-Sri Nagar and Rawalkot- Punch bus service as well as opening of five crossing points were aimed at helping the divided Kashmiri families to be able to visit each other. I am very glad that we have achieved results. This has a deeper human dimension. Because it has been unfortunate that contacts between the Kashmiries on both sides of control have remained severed for over half a century. There is also an agreement to begin a truck service, which could help commerce in local produce. And alleviate economical suffering of the people. The people of Kashmir also suffered a massive earthquake, which hit last October. In this hour of  tragedy, Kashmiri divided families were able to reach out and provide comfort to each other across the line of control. This is another idea we proposed. That not let the line of control to divide at this moment of crisis. The families and people are coming across and helping each other.

On our part we are implementing a massive plan in the effected areas of Kashmir to help the people to rebuild their lives and determined to convert the challenge into an opportunity. So that there is perceptible improvement in the living conditions of those effected. May I say that we very successfully launched and executed the two initial stages of meeting the earthquake.

That was rescue and relief. I am extremely grateful to the European Union and countries of the European Union for the assistance that we got in financial assistance and assistance in kind.

Pakistan also encourages interaction among the Kashmiri leaders. We are happy that many of the leaders of the All Parties Huriyat Conference have been able to visit Pakistan from across the Line of Control. And have held detailed discussions with us to examine ideas for a settlement. They also met the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Manhmohn Singh. Some other personalities from Sri Nagar have also been to Pakistan. Such interaction with the Kashmiri leaders clarifies ideas and would certainly help to build support and consensus for workable options. As I said the solution lies in getting all the leadership of Kashmir on both sides of the divide to come at a common platform and a common cause that will lend strength to their argument for a solution of the Kashmir problem. Therefore interacting with people within themselves, those who were not in contact with each other may be of some reason or the other in the future; we have to change our attitude and may be interact with everyone, so we come to a common scope or a common dimension of a solution of a problem.

I would now like to give some details on our approach and efforts for an acceptable settlement. As early as in 2001, I offered a four point to break the deadlock:

  • Acceptance of the disputed character of Kashmir
  • Meaningful and sustained dialogue process
  • Setting a side options unacceptable to either side
    • Examining other possible solutions acceptable to all parties, mainly to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

This is what I have said in 2001. In my judgment this was the way forward to address the final settlement of dispute. In 2004, following the resumption of peace process after over a hiatus of over two years, we focus our approach on a forward-looking approach to address the core issue. I agreed with Manhmohn Singh in 2004 in New York that the two sides should explore options for addressing Jammu and Kashmir. On our part we encourage discussions, which began, with my food for thought ideas. Since that time there has been considerable debate and important ideas have come up for discussions, which have found receptivity, especially with the Kashmiri leadership.

In summing up the ideas, first of all there is a need to identify Kashmir. There are certain areas and distinct regions within Kashmir. How shall we take this reality into an account for a practical and realistic settlement? The second important idea relates to demilitarisation. We can envisage stages of demilitarization obviously hundreds of thousands of soldiers cannot be removed instantly. There should be stages of demilitarisation. In early stages this could help to raise the comfort level of Kashmiris and specially reduce violence and improve the human right situation in the Indian held Kashmir. Demilitarisation can also be a part of overall settlement. On our part we are prepared to withdraw our troops from along the line of control as a part of an overall settlement. I even have proposed that three main cities of Indian part of Kashmir, which we called Indian, held Kashmir, Sri Nagar, Kopwara and Baramola. All troops could be moved out of these three cities to the outskirts of the city. Demilitarize the cities and let us use our all energies, resources and our influences to ensure there is no militancy in these cities. This was one of our proposals. However it hasn’t been accepted yet.

Thirdly I believe that Kashmiri people are the main stakeholders in the peace process and eventual settlement. They must have the right to decide their own affairs. Self-governance is the central idea aims in empowering the Kashmiri people. This was the third element of it. And lastly the history of Kashmir dispute is inextricably linked to the interests of India and Pakistan. We find it hard to understand the Indian decision put on hold to the composite dialogue. We must not allow the acts of terrorism to affect the peace process in which both Pakistan and India have equal important stakes. Pakistan has offered cooperation to help investigations relating to the Mumbai blasts on the basis of specific information and we promise to pursue the matter at our end in the same manners as we cooperate with other countries in counter terrorism. However finger pointing will help no one.

We need to move forward and in future avoid interruptions in the process that must be sustained with commitment and determination. I would like to add that stopping of dialogue process through such acts of terrorism is exactly playing in the hands of terrorists. Because they exactly want this. They want to distort and disturb the peace process. And if we exactly do that, it is the terrorist who is winning and we want a solution are losing. Finally I would like to emphasis the responsibility and role of the international community in helping both Pakistan and India to make progress and solve this long-standing dispute of Kashmir.

The United Nation Security Council resolutions represented a solemn commitment and promise by the international community to the people of Kashmir. Regrettably over the decade these resolutions have remained unimplemented despite representing an international legality.

Within the United Nations, an important world forum such as the European Parliament, there is a great deal of emphasis on upholding freedom and human rights. The protagonist of these values can not exile from their responsibilities to address the dispute that represents the denial of fundamental rights to a people as promised and sanctified internationally in the shape of United Nations Security Council Resolution. We believe that dispute resolution is the best form of confidence building, the best assurance for peace and thereby an effective catalyst for progress and economic development. In South Asia we need to move from conflict management to conflict resolution. This change will herald a new chapter, where all countries could dedicate their energies and resources to the betterment of their peoples. We have seen this phenomenon in South East Asia, where governments and people are not pre occupied with conflict resolution and instead devote themselves fully in regional trade and economic cooperation. I believe the same environment be achievable for South Asia by resolving the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan will continue its efforts to achieve this goal through peaceful and political means.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I appreciate the efforts by the European Parliament in the Kashmir dispute. I hope in the upcoming report would pave the way for a constructive and continued engagement of EU with this dispute.

I thank you for your patient hearing.

I thank you all ladies and gentlemen!



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