Political solution to Kashmir problem soon: HM

Last Updated: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 00:19

New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram
on Thursday said contours of a political solution to the Kashmir
problem were expected to emerge in the next few months.

He said this while addressing a meeting here of the
Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry
and the subject of the discussion was "Matters relating
to Jammu and Kashmir".
Chidambaram said the first and second reports of the group
of interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir dealt with
confidence-building measures and added that he had now asked
the group to focus on finding the contours of a political
solution.

"Contours of a political solution to the Kashmir problem
are likely to emerge in the next few months," an official
statement quoted him as saying.

He appreciated the work done by the group of interlocutors
and asserted that the "Kashmir issue is a political issue for
which a political solution must be found."

However, peace and good governance are pre-requisites for
reaching a political solution.

The members on the Consultative Committee suggested
amending the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and
speedy rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants to which the Home
Minister stated that a proposal to amend the Act is under
consideration.

Chidambaram said violence being witnessed in the state was
of two types and a different approach must be adopted to deal
with each. "The violence perpetrated by militants and
infiltrators must be dealt with in a strong and resolute
manner. On the other hand, the violence witnessed during
protests by residents of the state requires deft and sensitive
handling," he said.

The minister pointed out that after the Government
announced an 8-point plan for the state recently, the
situation there has improved considerably.
"This process must be strengthened. Space must be allowed
for peaceful protests. Governance and delivery on the ground
must improve," he said and added that visible presence of
security forces must be reduced.

The Home Minister said efforts must be made to win the
minds and hearts of the people of the state.

Taking part in the discussion, the MPs welcomed the steps
taken by the Government to improve the situation in the state
and some of them felt efforts must be made to evolve a
political consensus on the Kashmir issue at the national
level.

Responding to suggestions made by MPs, Chidambaram pointed
out that two Special Task Forces - one for Jammu and the other
for Ladakh - have been constituted to examine developmental
needs of these regions.

The Prime Minister`s Office has constituted an Expert
Group under the chairmanship of Dr C Rangarajan to formulate
a job plan for the state.

"It is expected that the reports of all these groups will
be received by next month so that their recommendations can be
considered by the Government and factored into next year`s
Budget.

"The Centre has released Special Plan Assistance of Rs 100
crore to the state Government for improving infrastructure in
schools and colleges," he said and informed members about
steps taken for rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants.

Drawing attention of members to some recent positive
developments, he said 5,56,370 tourists visited Jammu and
Kashmir this year up to December six which shows an increase
of about 25 per cent over the number during the corresponding
period last year.
The Amarnath Yatra this year was one of the most peaceful
yatras ever conducted and 4,58,000 pilgrims took part in it.

Those who attended the meeting included Ram Gopal Yadav,
Bhubaneswar Kalita, Rishang Keishing, H K Dua and Ashok Sekhar
Ganguly from the Rajya Sabha and Thokchom Meinya, Rattan Singh
Ajnala and N Dharam Singh from the Lok Sabha, besides Minister
of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran.

Meanwhile, the hardline Hurriyat Conference termed as
"jugglery of words" Home Minister P Chidambaram`s statement
about resolution of the Kashmir issue.

"This is nothing but just jugglery of words. It was Mr
Chidambaram who said Kashmir issue was about broken promises,"
hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani told PTI.

Geelani said the Kashmir issue can be resolved if the
Centre gives up its "rigid and unrealistic" stand.

"The simplest way to resolve the issue is to grant right
to self determination to the people as per the United Nations
Security Council resolutions," he claimed.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer
Farooq said before talking about the contours of the solution
to the Kashmir issue, the focus should be on the contours of
the engagement on it.

"The engagement has to be with the majority sentiment
in Kashmir. New Delhi will have to engage with the discourse
on right to self-determination and `Azadi` in Kashmir," he
said.

Mirwaiz alleged that the Centre had committed mistakes
in the past by ignoring the sentiments in Kashmir.

He said any lasting solution to the Kashmir issue can
emerge only if all the stakeholders -- India, Pakistan and
Kashmiris -- engage in a meaningful dialogue.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 00:19

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