Kashmir’s division on religious lines rejected

Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday,April 5-11,2008

ISLAMABAD: Chairperson of Jammu Kashmir People’s Democratic Party and member of India’s lower house of parliament Mehbooba Mufti has said people of Kashmir would not accept division of Kashmir on the basis of religion. Delivering a lecture on peace and the issue of Kashmir organized by South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) in Islamabad, she said Kashmir was neither a religious issue nor a territorial one, but an issue of restoration of the basic rights of the people of the region She said a major breakthrough was made on the Kashmir policy during the tenure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and this policy was vigorously followed later by Gen Pervez Musharraf. She said if India and Pakistan withdrew their forces from both parts of Kashmir, 50 per cent of the issue would be automatically resolved. Before 1947, she said, Kashmir consisted of three regions – Indian held Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Criticizing the Indus Treaty signed between Pakistan and India, she said it had been causing Kashmir an annual loss of Rs60 billion for the last about four decades. She said under the treaty, Pakistan and India were utilizing the waters of Kashmir, while people of the valley were without the basic need of electricity. She said dams constructed on the Indus River in Kashmir should be handed over to the state government so that electricity requirements of the local people could be met. She also demanded restoration of Kashmir’s status as existed before 1947, opening of all trade routes with China, Pakistan and Central Asia states and facilitation of people’s movement across the line of control (LOC). Ms Mufti proposed formation of a joint regional council comprising members of both the legislative assemblies of Indian occupied and Azad Kashmir and said the four-point formula presented by President Musharraf for resolution of the issue was based on the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. She expressed the hope that the new government in Pakistan would further push ahead the peace process. She said after meeting PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, she was sure that he would take serious steps to resolve the issue. She said the situation in Kashmir was fast changing and a significant reduction had been witnessed in `militancy’.Rawalpindi: The Bolore Jammu Kashmir All Parties National Alliance (APNA) has demanded that the new democratic government should sign a new social contract with Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and also determine their political status afresh. A spokesman for APNA said these territories had been treated as mere colonies for the last 60 years. He said both the areas were different units of the former state of Jammu Kashmir and, therefore, it would be in the fitness of things that they are brought under one political and administrative setup, so that the people could get equal political, constitutional, economic and social rights till the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute. He complained that the people of these territories had been left at the mercy of military and secret agencies for most of the time during the last 60 years without giving them basic human and other rights. The spokesman further demanded that the government should end the role of military and security agencies in the civilian organizations of the region, introduce real and complete democracy with local people’s full control over all the subjects and resources.urday,April 5-11,2008

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