M A I N   N E W S

India, Pak vow to resolve Kashmir issue
Determined to implement Simla accord; New CBMs announced
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
India and Pakistan today held a “structured” bilateral dialogue on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir after a gap of six years and proposed to each other a range of new Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), including Kashmir-specific CBMs.

The successful nature of the talks was reflected in the fact that the two sides issued a two-page joint statement wherein they expressed their determination to implement the Simla agreement “in letter and spirit” and “agreed to continue the sustained and serious dialogue to find a peaceful negotiated final settlement” of all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources said at today’s talks between the two Foreign Secretaries — Mr Shashank and Mr Riaz Khokhar — Pakistan did not raise the territory issue and referred in passing to the alleged human rights violations by the Indian security forces in J&K.

On the other hand, India focussed on Pakistan’s poor track record in giving democracy and development to the people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The Indian side told the Pakistanis that Islamabad had no mechanism to get the opinion of the people of their side of the Line of Control (LoC), because in the northern areas there was no elected structure.

The positive thing was that the two nuclear-armed neighbours discussed the Kashmir issue — which many Western think tanks have dubbed as the world’s most worrisome “nuclear flashpoint” — and pledged to resolve the issue peacefully through bilateral discussions. Sources said though the two sides stated their respectively stated positions, this was not done in a discordant way.

Sources asserted that one thing the two sides did not discuss in the two-day talks that concluded today was downsizing of troops along the LoC.

India proposed a cluster of military-related CBMs. Under this category, New Delhi proposed to expand communication links at the field-level or headquarter-level and also proposed to have exchanges between military-affiliated institutions.

Military-related CBMs are an area where the Pakistani response has traditionally been cautious. But this time, the Pakistani response was more liberal and accommodative and the Pakistani side said it would study the Indian proposals and then respond.

At the conclusion of the two-day talks, the two sides issued a joint statement which in diplomacy is seen to be as the sign of a successful visit. According to the joint statement, the two sides proposed a comprehensive framework for conventional CBMs aimed at initiating and enhancing communication, coordination and interaction.

The Foreign Secretaries reiterated their commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and their determination to implement the Simla Agreement “in letter and spirit”.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the ongoing process of dialogue and confidence building between the two countries. They approved the measures recommended by the Expert level meeting on Nuclear CBMs in New Delhi on June 19-20.

According to the joint statement, the two Foreign Secretaries agreed that the meetings of the remaining six subjects of the Composite Dialogue on Siachen, Wullar Barrage/ Tulbul Navigation Project, Sir Creek, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, and Promotion of Friendly Exchanges in Various Fields, would take place between the third week of July and the first half of August, 2004.

The Foreign Secretaries will meet again in the third week of August to review the progress achieved in the Composite Dialogue and prepare for the meeting of the Foreign Ministers which will immediately follow.

After the talks, the Pakistani delegation called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh and National Security Adviser J N Dixit. While meeting Mr Natwar Singh, Mr Khokhar handed over invitations from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to President A P J Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to visit Pakistan.

The two countries’ Foreign Office spokesmen — India’s Navtej Sarna and Pakistan’s Masood Khan — held separate briefings today also, though both spoke in similar vein. Both said the talks were held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere, and with the objective of taking the process forward.

Mr Navtej Sarna, when asked to characterise the talks, said: “I think the talks have been very positive. This is a good beginning. It is the beginning of a process. I think the spirit in which the talks have been held has been very positive and constructive.”

Mr Navtej Sarna said during discussions on Jammu and Kashmir today, both sides put forward proposals and had a free and extensive exchange of views with the idea of taking this dialogue further. Asked what was the problem with the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, the MEA spokesman said: “ The proposal is still on the table. This was not a technical level meeting so we did not go into the technicalities of each of the proposals. Those proposals on which there was immediate agreement, the Foreign Secretaries have agreed to, the rest of the proposals are on the table. We hope this process will move forward. There will be technical level meetings not only on this but other subjects that may require them, and those will be the correct fora for working out these details.”

Mr Sarna said the two sides discussed proposals/CBMs in a host of areas like facilitation of transport links, trade, easier people-to-people contacts, cultural cooperation, tourism and environment, adding that these were the areas in which CBMs were possible.

The averments of the Pakistani foreign office spokesman, Mr Masood Khan, who held a separate briefing in Pakistan High Commission, were equally positive. He summed up the talks saying: “It was a good beginning. Both sides were sure-footed. They expressed their intention to move forward. Both Foreign Secretaries have support from their respective political leadership.”

Asked what went wrong on the proposed Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, Mr Khan said: “Nothing went wrong. The matter was discussed. There were no glitches or difficulties. The issue of travel documents (for the proposed bus) was not discussed.”

Mr Khan categorically denied the presence of any terrorist training camps in Pakistan. He said the fact that the two countries had once again started talking was “a new spirit”.


  • To immediately restore the strengths of the respective High Commissions to the original level of 110.
  • To re-establish India’s Consulate-General in Karachi and Pakistan’s Consulate-General in Mumbai. Modalities to be worked out by the two governments.
  • To immediately release all apprehended fishermen in each other’s custody and to put in place a mechanism for the return of unintentionally transgressing fishermen and their boats from the high seas without apprehending them.
  • To initiate steps for early release of civilian prisoners.
  • To conclude an agreement on pre-notification of flight testing of missiles. Experts to work towards finalising the draft agreement.
  • To recognise the nuclear capabilities of each other as a factor for stability and work towards strategic stability.
  • To carry the process forward in an atmosphere free from terrorism and violence.

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