Pakistan Urges India not to Block Kashmiri Leaders Visit
Pakistan on Sunday said the newly initiated peace process would not move forward if India delayed travel documents for leaders of Kashmir's main separatist alliance to visit Islamabad.
"Inordinate delay will not be conducive to the maintenance of the momentum in favor of peace," Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said told a seminar here.
"We urge the government of India not to postpone or delay the grant of travel documents" to the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) delegation from Indian-administered Kashmir, he added.
A five-member Hurriyat delegation was due to arrive last month for consultations leading to a tri-lateral dialogue involving Pakistan, India and Kashmiri leaders to resolve the 53-year old Kashmir dispute.
But the visit has been held up by an Indian delay in issuing travel documents.
Pakistan invited the delegation after New Delhi declared its ceasefire in November, raising hopes for resumption of peace talks over the Kashmir dispute.
Islamabad responded by pulling some of its troops from the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and promised "maximum restraint" along the disputed border.
Sattar said Pakistan, taking advantage of New Delhi's suspension of military operations against Kashmiri militants, offered cooperation to stabilize the ceasefire on the LoC.
Since then the "LoC is quiet," he said and added: "We are happy to note that India has maintained its suspension of military operations against Kashmiris."
"But mere suspension is not enough, if it is right to suspend operations against Kashmiri people, it is even more right to terminate use of force against the Kashmiri people," he said.
He said Islamabad proposed that Pakistan and India should hold dialogue with the Hurriyat leaders.
"Pursuant to these consultations, Pakistan and India should resume the dialogue in order to find a mutually acceptable formula for settlement of Kashmir question in accordance with the aspiration of Kashmiri people," he said.
Sattar reiterated Pakistan's "unflinching support" for Kashmiris' right to self-determination.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars and a border conflict over the Himalayan state Kashmir, which is divided between the two countries and claimed by both -- ISLAMABAD (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)