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Some ideas to resolve the Kashmir issue...
H S Rao in London
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June 27, 2008 13:18 IST

The issue of cross border terrorism must be addressed to find a 'pragmatic' solution to the Kashmir issue, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has said as leaders from India and Pakistan favoured making the border 'irrelevant' to promote people-to-people contacts and discard the 'mistrust'.

"Ultimately if we are to look at Kashmir, we have to address issues of terrorism and cross-border terrorism," Arun Jaitley, former Law Minister and BJP general secretary said while speaking on 'Kashmir: Melting The Snows, Reinventing The Imagination' at the two-day conference on Indo-Pak relations organised by Tehelka, an Indian media house.

Suggesting that 'we have to be pragmatic in finding a solution to Kashmir', Jaitley said under Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir [Images] has almost all powers, leaving a few with the Centre.

"I have no differences on the issue of having dialogue but any solution will have to be within the territorial integrity of India," Jaitley said and drew attention to the plight of Kashmir Pandits languishing in camps in Jammu.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi suggested making the border irrelevant 'as far as feasible and find a holistic solution which is inclusive and implementable'.

Singhvi said reducing the defence budget and allocating the funds released for welfare purposes will send a strong message.

He said 'within the existing sovereignty', efforts should be made to make the region borderless as in Europe.

"Line of Control (LOC) has stood the test of time," the lawmaker said, adding that 'at worst cold peace is better than cold war.'       

Pakistan's former premier Nawaz Sharif favoured liberalising visa system and unilaterally releasing innocent civilians including fishermen locked up in each other's jails.

"There was need to discard mistrust. One of the first things needs to be done was to facilitate people to people contact, liberalising visa system and unilaterally releasing all innocent citizens including fishermen locked up in the two countries," Sharif said in a video message --  'Vision Statement on India-Pakistan relations', which was shown at the start panel discussion.

In his message, Sharif did not refer to Kashmir but harped on the need to improve bilateral trade and relations.

Sartaj Aziz, former Pakistan foreign minister, said the situation in Kashmir was much better now.
"Peace between the two countries is essential for global security," he said.

Aziz suggested the two countries should go beyond Confidence Building Measures.

"It is possible to reduce size of the Indian security forces. Ultimate solution depends on the willing participation of all stake holders," he said.

Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir blamed Delhi for the 'problems' in the state saying the 'Indian government did not move with speed'.

He demanded that the LOC be made the permanent dividing line and both sides of Kashmir totally autonomous.

"We have seen one partition and bloodbath and would not like to give room for another scene like that. I fear to think something like that. We want peace but not peace of grave," the National Conference leader said.

Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Democratic Party president, suggested a joint mechanism to make the border irrelevant and facilitate travel across the LOC with permit system.

She wanted a 'dual currency' for Kashmir on both sides of LOC. "I am optimistic that the prime minister will definitely take some steps," the PDP leader said.

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