WASHINGTON: A US lawmaker has advocated the need to encourage India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue. “We heard in recent reports that India and Pakistan were meeting secretly in the last year or so to try to resolve Kashmir. All of this has to be encouraged now,” Congressman Ed Markey said while talking to reporters.
A New York magazine in its latest issue said India and Pakistan had secret talks for four years aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue and had in fact almost reached an agreement before General Pervez Musharraf got bogged down in his country’s domestic problem. Markey was part of a Congressional delegation led by House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi that visited Afghanistan last week, wherein she met top US military leaders in the country, besides meeting the Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
After reports that the covert talks between India and Pakistan on occupied Kashmir were about to yield results, the JK chief minister Omar Abdullah has called on the two-countries to revive the secret talks to resolve the vexed Kashmir issue.
In an interview, Omar Abdullah said, “India has been granted a ‘lifeline’ after most Kashmiris voted in landmark elections but the government must avoid complacency and intransigence if it is to bring peace”.
He, however, said that the bad timing of an economic slowdown, a general election and the diplomatic aftermath of November’s Mumbai attacks mean quick progress in the disputed region will be almost impossible.
Omar said that New Delhi has really been handed a lifeline through this election and they need to capitalise on that. “The opportunity is enormous,” Chief Minister Abdullah said in a house surrounded by photos of a family that has dominated Kashmir for decades. “But we shouldn’t underestimate the extent of the challenges we face. There is a bad timing,” he said.
Abdullah, 38, emerged as chief minister after his National Conference party and the ruling Congress party won the assembly election and forged a coalition government. Many Kashmiris saw his victory as bringing hope that some deal could be reached to help end a conflict that has provoked two of India and Pakistan’s three wars. “The fact that the two-decades-old insurgency has waned should not be taken as an excuse to sit back,” Omar said.-SANA