ISLAMABAD, Feb 20: Participants of a dialogue on Wednesday urged both Pakistan and India to explore pragmatic policy options in the pursuit of securing a lasting peace in the region.

Dialogue on “Demilitarizing the LOC: Challenges and Opportunities” was organised by The Jinnah Institute here on Wednesday.

The discussants stressed that both countries should adopt holistic approach towards normalising relations. If sources of conflict are left unattended, there is a limited chance to build peace, he said.

Yasin Malik of Hurriyat Conference termed the idea of demilitarising thr LOC a romantic one. He emphasized the need of sustained efforts in resolving the conflict going on in Kashmir without which confidence building will yield limited results.

He supported Track-2 level efforts and said they needed to do much more to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Citing recent parleys held with Indian parliamentarians, Khuram Dastgir said that Indian legislators were averse to discussing the Kashmir issue and all they wanted was trade-oriented continued cooperation.

“India doesn’t want to see water or endgame in Afghanistan on the table. Whenever we try to bring in Kashmir issue in our dialogue, our counterparts jump to terrorism related concerns thus deflecting the focus away from real issue,” he said, adding that demilitarizing LOC was a distant dream.

Terming demilitarisation of LOC as a far fetched reality, Riffat Masood, Director General South Asia of Foreign Office, spoke about the growing role of Indian military in formulating foreign policy particularly towards Pakistan.

Urging better relations with India, she emphasised the need for ‘addendums’ to negotiations with India and cautioned that sight of the core issue must not be lost. She further noted that Kashmir reflected the reality of Indo-Pak relations.

Gen Athar Abbas, former DG ISPR, said that ultimate victory lied in winning peace in the region. “If anything, the nature of relations with India is such that a single trigger happy soldier can bring in a serious crisis, and recent developments around LOC are worrisome for their implications on the ongoing peace process,” he said.

Wajahat Ali, a visiting scholar from US, said that localised extremist acts had their implications internationally. “Islamophobia is growing in the west,” he added.

Earlier, Laurent Gayer, visiting French scholar, shared his thoughts on the issue of extremism drawing a comparison between the cities of Mumbai and Karachi.

Touching upon various factors that result in violence in Karachi, he said that state should be less brutal and more neutral in handling the crisis.—A Reporter