India rejects Pervez proposals
New Delhi, January 18
As for Gen Musharraf’s other Kashmir-specific idea on self-governance, which he and other Pakistani leaders and officials have been making through the media, India outrightly rejected it and virtually told Islamabad that it was Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas which needed self-governance, not Jammu and Kashmir which has had duly elected governments for decades.
At the two-day Foreign Secretary-level talks which concluded this evening, the Indian side apprised the Pakistanis of its viewpoint that confidence building measures (CBMs) were integral to finding a solution to the Kashmir issue and the two were not in different compartments. The Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saran, while briefing the media said he reiterated to the Pakistani side Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that anything short of redrawal of boundaries or territorial readjustments, India was committed to whatever was required for free flow of people, goods and ideas on either side of the LoC .
In response to a question from this correspondent on India’s response to Pakistani proposal of non-deployment of strike formations of the two countries’ armies on their borders and the LoC, Mr Saran said the Indian approach was more ambitious. “We go a step further than that. We want the LoC to become a Line of Friendship and the international border to be a border of peace and tranquillity.”
Mr Saran was of the view that the peace process had not reached a point of stalemate and there was certain progress. He pointed out that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad issued 90,000 visas to Pakistanis in the year 2005 in comparison to 60,000 in the year previous to that.
The two sides reiterated their well-known positions: that India will not tolerate continuance of terrorism from the Pakistani side and that Pakistan will not tolerate interference in its internal affairs, a reference to Indian reaction on Balochistan.
During the talks, the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan commenced the third round of talks under the Composite Dialogue framework and discussed issues related to “peace and security including CBMs” and “Jammu and Kashmir”. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to move forward the peace process in a meaningful way during the third round and maintain its momentum.
A joint statement issued at the end of the two-day talks said the two Foreign Secretaries agreed to mandate the two experts groups to continue consultations on security concepts and nuclear doctrines to develop measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields aimed at avoidance of conflict.
They also agreed to consider the following:
“The Foreign Secretaries noted with satisfaction the opening of the five crossing points across the Line of Control, and hoped that the process of promoting greater interaction between the divided families would get further impetus,” the joint statement stressed. The two sides reiterated their commitment to start a bus service between Poonch and Rawalakot and a truck service on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route for trade in permitted goods “as soon as the infrastructure damaged during the October 2005 earthquake is restored.”
In addition, the Indian side proposed Jammu-Sialkot and Kargil-Skardu bus services with the hope that these could be operationalised at an early date.
Both sides also agreed to hold early meetings of the technical level working groups of the joint commission on agriculture, health, science and technology, information, education, I.T. and telecommunication, environment and tourism so that they can report their progress to the Joint Commission.
The Foreign Secretary of Pakistan called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this evening.