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Durrani sees historic opportunity for Kashmir solution

Editor-in-Chief: Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman

www.thenews.com.pk

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 rights violations.

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 dialogue.

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."

 

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