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Peace and reconciliation on Kashmir cannot happen under the shadow of gun: Sources

June 24, 2011 - Islamabad

India and Pakistan made major headway today in reducing the trust deficit with regard to Kashmir.

According to Indian government sources, major confidence building measures were discussed in a free, frank and candid manner.

The two sides agreed that it was time to move ahead and be imaginative and innovative when dealing with the peace process in Kashmir.

India, however, made clear that any movement forward could not be done under the shadow of the gun.

Both sides agreed to convene a meeting of the working group on cross-Line of Control-confidence building measures to recommend measures for strengthening and streamlining existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC and propose modalities for introducing additional cross LOC CBMs.

The Working Group will meet in July ahead of the foreign ministerial level meeting between India and Pakistan.

The sources indicated that some of the proposals discussed included multi-entry permit for Kashmiris.

However, it was also said that confidence building measures could only work when the region was free of terror and violence and there was no promotion of the said terror by state or non-state actors.

In this context, the Indian delegation brought up the issue of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana depositions and their linkages with government agencies in Pakistan.

On it's part, Pakistan brought up the issue of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings and about Indian investigations on the terror incident.

When asked about the trend in Pakistan to equate the Samjhauta blast with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Indian sources said that it was wrong to equate any two terror attacks.

India doesn't condone any terror attack and certainly doesn't defend the Samjhauta blast, there were lives lost whether Indian or Pakistani and that was wrong.

However, on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, it was necessary to bring the guilty to justice so that there is closure on the event and one could move towards normalizing of relations between India and Pakistan.

It appeared that the Pakistani side was responsive to the Indian concerns.

Sources indicated that the interior ministries of the two countries are mandated to handle the terror related issues, however, there was a degree of overlap when peace and security in the region are discussed hence Mumbai and the Samjhauta cases as well as the Headley-Rana depositions and their connections with the LeT were discussed.

Earlier, in the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs, the Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said, "the ideology of military conflict should have no place in the vocabulary of peace".

This was an extremely significant comment. Knowing the role that the army plays in the Pakistani scheme of things, Rao seemed to make a gentle, but potent suggestion that it was time the India-Pak relations be in the realm of civilian activity.

With the scaling down of military presence in Kashmir on both sides of the border and if the civilian administrations in both sides are able to take forward the bold confidence building measures put forward today, common people would benefit and be able to live with dignity and freedom. By Smita Prakash


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