Srinagar: For the first time in the past three decades of militancy, political leaders and civil society members from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and Pakistan have called for an “end to militancy”.
Last month, British non-governmental organisation (NGO), Conciliation Resources, in collaboration with the Kashmir Initiative Group hosted a three-day meeting in Dubai in which “distinguished” political and civil society representatives from both sides participated.
The speakers stressed that the “cessation of hostilities be ensured on all sides”, while recommending that the neighbours return to the 2003 LoC ceasefire agreement. The 2003 agreement was signed between former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and then Pakistan president General Parvez Musharraf.
“They (the participants) recommended that a cessation of hostilities be ensured on all sides and the ceasefire established in 2003 be respected. They urged for confidence-building measures to be strengthened and new routes to be opened for trade and travel across the Line of Control,” said a statement issued by the NGO on its website.
Pakistan newspaper Awaaz-e-Kashmir reported that the participants’ call for an “end to militancy” was significant, given that India had always accused Pakistan of supporting militancy in the region. On this, the paper said, the participants “accepted” India’s stand.
Among the participants from Kashmir were human rights activist Khurram Parvez, National Conference leader Nasir Aslam Wani, and journalists Shujaat Bukhari, Iftikhar Gilani and Zahir-ud Din. The speakers from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) were: Speaker of Assembly Ghulam Qadir, legislators Abdul Rashid Turabi and Irshad Mehmood. Pakistan’s former army general Assad Durani, Air Vice-Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, and BJP leader Vikram Randhawa were also participants and speakers at the conference.
The NGO’s website said that the participants discussed the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and “emphasised the need for dialogue and relief measures”.
Youth exchange programmes between the two sides of the border and the opening of new trade routes along the LoC were also recommended.
One of the participants said that the speakers were unanimous that “militancy should end as it has resulted in loss of bloodshed and has done more damage to our cause internationally than any favour.”
“The ongoing situation was discussed and almost everyone from Kashmir admitted militancy is no solution and that it should be stopped,” the participant told Kashmir Reader.