Pakistan, India asked to include Kashmiris in dialogue process

  • Kashmiri activist Raja Muzaffar asks PM Khan to include Siachen issue in Kashmir basket

DALLAS (Texas): South Asia Democracy Watch (SADeW) Executive Director Raja Muzaffar has said that all negotiations between Pakistan and India should start with the understanding that the Kashmir issue is not just about a piece of land, but an issue of self-determination for a proud nation in South Asia.

In a statement issued here, he welcomed the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan to restart talks with India, saying that the Kashmiri leadership has always support and welcome dialogue process. “We welcome your intention to initiate negotiations on Kashmir,” he said in a reference to Prime Minister Khan’s recent statement to initiate talks with India.

“I would like to emphasise the fact that the Kashmiri people are at the centre of this dispute and any deliberation without their inclusion will not be acceptable to us,” said Muzaffar, who is also associated with the Kashmir Global Council. “Your letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicates your intention to restart negotiations on the Kashmir issue where it was left some years ago,” he said.

“These efforts began with former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s initiative to come to Lahore, dumping the goodwill by General Pervez Musharraf in Kargil, and then catching up with it by visiting the Agra only to face a deadlock,” he pointed out. Musharraf initiated discussing the issue with AB Vajpayee and developing the four-point formula but his downfall again left it unresolved, he said.

“Mr Imran Khan, please leave the Siachen issue in the Kashmir basket, and before reinventing the wheel, work on confidence-building measures between the two countries,” the Kashmiri activist said. “We enthusiastically welcome negotiations,” he said, adding that Kashmiris were the owner and inhabitants of the (disputed) land and without their participation, Pakistan cannot reach an agreement with India.