Indian envoy calls Line of Control ‘like border’

SRINAGAR – India’s special envoy and a track-II diplomat Satinder K Lambah has said that the Line of Control between the divided state of Jammu Kashmir should be considered as a border, suggesting self-governance and joint consultative mechanism on both sides of the disputed state, Indian media reported on Wednesday.

“Any agreement must ensure that LoC is like a border between two normal states and there is no redrawal of borders,” he said while delivering his speech at a seminar – Discussion between India and Pakistan on Jammu Kashmir – organised by the Institute of Kashmir Studies at the Kashmir University.

Lambah said after three wars and long period of disagreements, it was essential that any agreement between Pakistan and India must ensure that the LoC is like a border between two normal states. Insisting that he was making suggestions in his personal capacity, Lambah said it was imperative that Kashmiris on either side of the LoC should be able to move freely.

“This is particularly essential as on both sides of the LoC live not only the same ethnic groups but also divided families,” said Lambah who has been a part of the back-channel negotiations with Pakistan on Kashmir during the past decade, which includes most productive Musharraf-Manmohan dialogue through 2004-07 that envisaged a Kashmir settlement without any geographical re-adjustment.

Lambah also said a settlement of the issue would substantially enhance India’s security, strengthen the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region. “Kashmir solution will enable India to focus more on rapidly-emerging long-term geopolitical challenges,” he said, expressing satisfaction that problem in the state has not stopped India from forging its destiny as a secular, pluralist democracy and one of the world’s major economies and a military power.

Lambah said that efforts made by Pakistan and India to seek a solution to Kashmir issue have gathered momentum this century. He said successive prime ministers of India right from Jawaharlal Nehru to Manmohan Singh have made resolution of Kashmir issue a priority. “It has been conducted quietly, and without knowledge, prompting and involvement of any third party,” Lambah said.

“We have to look for ideas that are practical, workable and acceptable. We can also learn some useful lessons from the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration,” he said. “We have been waiting for a Kashmir solution for the past six decades but it has always eluded us. How long do we have to wait more? Can we expect a light at the end of the tunnel?” asked Dr Farooq Abdullah who heads the National Conference party.

He also said that there was a little hope from the back-channel talks. “All of us Kashmiris will be dead and Pakistan and India will still be talking to resolve Kashmir,” he quipped.

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