Bill moved in Congress for Kashmir peace
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives calling for a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict and the appointment by the State Department of a special envoy to work with the governments of India, Pakistan and Kashmir so that continuing progress can be ensured.
The bill brought in by Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts will now make its passage through the various stages that any legislation entails. According to Rep. Pitts, “This area of the world is critical to the success of our foreign policy. Leaders on both sides of the Kashmir conflict have sacrificed a great deal over the last year to move this process forward. I believe that the outcome of this conflict is crucial to South Asia and to the people of Kashmir who have suffered for so long. A special envoy will demonstrate that we are serious about the issue and intend to support efforts to resolve this conflict.”
The bill urges all parties involved to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict over Kashmir; praises the governments of India and Pakistan for the November 2003 ceasefire agreement, their ongoing dialogue, their agreement on six basic road map steps for peace negotiations, and confidence building measures to promote peace. It commends non-governmental and humanitarian organisations for their work on communal peace and reconciliation and on building civil society in Kashmir, while urging the governments of India and Pakistan to include and constructively engage Kashmiri leaders in the dialogue. It also calls on the US President to immediately appoint a special envoy to work with the governments and peoples of India, Pakistan and Kashmir in order to support further dialogue, negotiations and a resolution of the conflict.
Rep Pitts serves as a member of the Pakistan Caucus and acts as vice-chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Non-proliferation, and Human Rights. He is a founder of the Kashmir Forum and the Silk Road Caucus.