Kashmir settlement key to peace: Aziz

Published May 24, 2005 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, May 23: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has underlined the centrality of Kashmir in the peace process between Pakistan and India and called for showing necessary political will to resolve the dispute. Addressing 36th session of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council here on Monday, he said Pakistan had initiated a composite dialogue with India, sincerely hoping that it would ultimately lead to just and durable solutions to all issues, particularly the Kashmir dispute.

“It must be recognized that resolution of the Kashmir dispute is the key to durable peace in South Asia,” said the prime minister who is also chairman of the AJK Council.

AJK President Sardar Anwar Khan, Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan and other members of the Council attended the meeting held at the Prime Minister Secretariat.

The PM said that the two countries had reached a juncture where they should move beyond dispute-management to dispute-resolution. He said that Kashmiris had a direct stake in the Pakistan-India dialogue and, therefore, should be principal beneficiaries of the peace process.

Emphasizing on a just resolution of the Kashmir issue in line with wishes of the Kashmiri people, he said it required courage, flexibility, magnanimity and leadership that could build a better future of peace and progress.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s resolution to extend moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people, Prime Minister Aziz said that Pakistan had always emphasized the need for creating a climate of peace and stability and resolving disputes through meaningful and constructive dialogue.

The PM told the Kashmiri leaders that Pakistan had always termed Kashmir as the core issue that had strained ties between the two countries.

“Pakistan has also made it clear that she cannot agree to any proposal that aims at converting the existing Line of Control (LoC) into a permanent border,” he added.

The PM referred to several confidence building measures, including bus service across the LoC, offering India energy corridor, restoration of people to people contacts and economic as well as trade links. He said Pakistan believed that Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service would contribute to consolidation of the peace process.

Referring to a recent meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, he said the two leaders had agreed to continue discussions in a sincere, purposeful and forward looking manner till a final settlement. They, he added, had also agreed to further pursue measures to enhance interaction and cooperation across the LoC for the benefit of the Kashmiri people.

The PM reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment to the dialogue process that it believed was irreversible and added that the composite dialogue process to resolve these issues should be result-oriented.

“Pakistan is fully committed to the laudable goal of promoting peace and prosperity in South Asia,” he said adding that at the bilateral level, Pakistan had demonstrated courage and flexibility for the sake of lasting peace in the region. He also underscored the need for economic and trade relations between Pakistan and India.

Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri briefed the council on the initiatives and efforts being made by the government to further the cause of Kashmir at different international fora. —APP

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