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Standing Committee Cleared
PM dismisses Kasuri’s claims

T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad (second from left), and union water resource minister Saif-ud-din Soz during the round-table meeting on Kashmir in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad (second from left), and union water resource minister Saif-ud-din Soz during the round-table meeting on Kashmir in New Delhi on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

New Delhi, April 24
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight dismissed Islamabad’s claims that the two South Asian nuclear neighbours were nearing settlement on the Kashmir issue, while announcing the decision to set up the Standing Committee and Oversight and Monitoring Mechanism to implement the recommendations of the Working Groups of the Kashmir Roundtable Conference.

“Some public statements in this regard (Kashmir issue) emanating from Pakistan do not give the correct picture,” Manmohan Singh said in his concluding remarks at the third roundtable on Jammu and Kashmir.

He said, “I have said earlier that we are working sincerely towards resolving all pending issues with Pakistan and their resolution will be to the benefit of the entire region.”

Prime Minister was reacting to Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri’s claim that New Delhi and Islamabad were nearing agreement on the Kashmir issue.

Kasuri had told a Pakistani newspaper in an interview that “lots of ground has been covered for an agreement on Kashmir and some areas of differences are being sorted out…. The two countries are moving towards a settlement of the Kashmir issue that might not be the first best choice for all three parties (India, Pakistan and Kashmiris) but it could be the second best.”

Manmohan Singh said, “There have been references to President Musharraf’s proposals and statements on Jammu and Kashmir during our discussions. Several ideas, having a bearing on improving relations between India and Pakistan, are being discussed at various levels. In carrying on these discussions we are giving careful consideration to your views expressed at these Roundtables and the meetings of the Working Groups.”

At the end of the daylong meeting of the third roundtable on Jammu and Kashmir, boycotted by separatist groups, the Prime Minister Prime Minister, in his concluding remarks said, “We set up a Standing Committee, which would meet ‘to take stock of the implementation of the recommendations of the Working Groups and give their inputs’.”

As the implementation required involvement of large number of agencies of the government, the Prime Minister said, “There is also a need to create an Oversight and Monitoring Mechanism, which would coordinate the task of implementation, identify delays and resolve bottlenecks.”

Acknowledging that the 5th Working Group, which is on “strengthening relations between the State and the Centre” and covers effective devolution of powers among different regions, Manmohan Singh said the success of this group was “critical to the success of this roundtable process. “As the work of the group has only recently begun, I would not like to preempt or prejudge their deliberations,” he said.

On the human rights issue, Prime Minister said, “I do admit that there are problems. There is considerable inconvenience as well because of the prevailing security scenario. But we will continue to take steps to ensure that the deployment of the security forces is directly related to the scale of the problems on the ground; and that violations of human rights are minimised.”

The statement adopted at the end of the round table in principle endorsed the confidence building measures like strengthening human rights protection; improving relief and rehabilitation of widows, orphans and other victims of militancy and violence.

Among those who attended were Home Minister Shivraj Patil, CM Ghulam Nabi Azad, PDP leader Mufti Sayeed, National Conference leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah, CPM leader Yusuf Tarigami, Congress leader Saifuddin Soz, state BJP chief Nirmal Singh and Panun Kashmir chairman Agnishekhar.

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