ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has reacted quickly to pacify Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat Conference chairman, regarding Pakistan’s stance on the occupied Kashmir, saying there is no change in Pakistan’s principled position on the issue.
“Pakistan seeks a just solution to this issue in accordance with UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Kashmir. This issue cannot be sidestepped and has been duly emphasised in all bilateral talks with India including the talks held recently at the foreign ministers level in Islamabad,” the spokesman at the Foreign Office said in a statement after Indian media carried remarks of the elderly Kashmiri leader, who appeared quite perturbed with the warming up of relations between Indian and Pakistan.
It is no secret that the PPPgovernment is going an extra mile to improve relations and the hawks at home are peeved that contentious issues like Kashmir have been put on the backburner.
Speaking to the media in Srinagar, Gilani questioned Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s advice of forgetting the past. “This is beyond logic. The division of the subcontinent, which led to creation of India and Pakistan, cannot be forgotten. How can the historic background of Kashmir issue and the sacrifices of the people for right to self determination be forgotten?” Geelani asked.
However, a close reading of the joint statement at the conclusion of the visit of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna actually does not miss out the Kashmir issue. “The ministers held discussions on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and agreed to the need for continued discussions, in a purposeful and forward looking manner, with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences,” the joint statement said.
But it was Khar buoyant manner and choice of words at the joint press conference that was streamed live and troubled the Hurriyat leader. “We will move forward. We will not be held hostage to history. We must learn from the past and not miss any more opportunities. Pakistan is committed not to lose any opportunities. Pakistan is committed to creating new opportunities,” she had said.
Khar had cited Pakistan’s move to normalise trade ties with India as a strong message of its intentions to forge ahead towards an improved relationship. “We are looking at India with a completely different mindset. When Pakistan decides to change a position it has held to for 40 years and liberalise trade ties with India, Pakistan is sending a very very strong message of being willing to forge ahead without being hostage to the past,” Khar said.
Geelani questioned why Pakistan, instead of focusing on Kashmir, was more interested in trade and agreeing to a new visa regime. Meanwhile, the spokesman at the Foreign Office added: “Pakistan holds Geelani in high esteem and greatly values his contributions to the Kashmir cause”.In the past Pakistan had laid conditions on a solution to the Kashmir issue before seeing progress on trade.