WASHINGTON: Seeing an historic opportunity
for peace between Pakistan and India in the changed environment,
Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani has expressed the hope that
the two sides would work together to resolve the decades-old
Kashmir dispute once and for all.
He was addressing a seminar on “India-Pakistan Peace
Process: Prospects of Peace in Kashmir,” jointly organised
by Pakistani American Leadership Center and Kashmiri American
Council at Rayburn House office building, Capitol Hill.
The envoy perceived a slow but qualitative change in Pakistan-India
discourse on Kashmir and expressed the hope that the two
countries can grasp the rare opportunity through willingness,
flexibility and fair play and work together and usher in
a new era of peace in South Asia.
He referred to the sustained peace process and increased
people-to-people contacts and described the change as a transformation
compared with the 2002 stand-off between the two countries.
Speaking in the context of Pakistan’s peace overtures,
he said the country has expressed its willingness to show
flexibility provided New Delhi also demonstrates reciprocity
and moves away from its stated position.
He said a step-by-step approach can be helpful towards substantive
progress in the peace process, adding the first step would
be for India to remove the heavy presence of security forces
from held Kashmir and thus cut down on the continuing human
He assured that Pakistan would reciprocate on its side of
the Line of Control if India takes the first step of demilitarisation.
Ambassador Durrani listed participation of Kashmiris in the
dialogue process as another important measure.
The second important step would be to provide greater political
space to the Kashmiris where they have an opportunity to
decide their future through an open dialogue amongst themselves
and their fellow Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir.
“I think this is already happening,” he said
and in this respect informed the audience that Islamabad
has consistently advocated the association of Kashmiris with
discussions on Kashmir and tried to facilitate this intra-Kashmir
He said political leaders from Srinagar visited Pakistan
and met the leadership.
On US role towards resolution of the Kashmir dispute, he
said in the changed environment where America and India have
improved understanding and Washington also has good relations
with Pakistan, it can be a very useful catalyst.
Speaking on the occasion, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee,
co-chair of Congressional US-Pakistan caucus, said the United
States has the resources to assist in diplomacy and political
reconciliation around the world and spoke of her efforts
for recognition of contribution Pakistan has made internationally
and the sacrifices it has made.
Sheila Jackson referred to challenges in the region, including
Kashmir and Afghanisan and said “we have to address
this question of recognition of challenges in the region
in which Pakistan is situated."