Aarti Dhar

Third roundtable on Jammu and Kashmir gets under way

  • Need to overcome trust deficit with Pakistan
  • Committed to constructive dialogue

    NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday announced the constitution of two committees to take stock of the implementation of the recommendations of the working groups on Kashmir.

    While the standing committee of the roundtable would meet as and when necessary to review the implementation process, the oversight and monitoring mechanism would coordinate the task of implementation, identify delays and resolve bottlenecks.

    Addressing the third round table conference on Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Singh said the standing committee would have membership from within the roundtable, the second panel would comprise officers from the Government.

    Earlier, the conference accepted the recommendations of the four working groups to address various aspects of the Kashmir problem while the fifth working group on Centre-State relations is yet to finalise its reports.

    On references to Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf's proposals and statements raised during the discussions, he said several ideas having a bearing on improving relations between India and Pakistan were being discussed at various levels and careful consideration was being given to the views expressed at these roundtables. "Some public statements in this regard emanating from Pakistan do not give the correct picture,'' he said.

    In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister acknowledged the role of security forces in maintaining peace in Jammu and Kashmir, and said their deployment was directly linked to the extent of violence on the ground. However, there are concerns about human rights violation and undue harassment of people that need to be addressed, he said.

    Dr. Singh said wide-ranging initiatives were already being implemented to revitalise the economy of the State and the need was to work closely together to further carry forward the efforts to build a new, peaceful and prosperous State. "It is a vision of naya (new) Jammu and Kashmir which is symbolised by peace, prosperity and people's power.''

    Pointing out that a harmonious neighbourhood and a reconciliation with Pakistan were important to realise the vision of an India and South Asia free from the fear of war, want and exploitation, the Prime Minister said for this it was essential to resolve differences and overcome the trust deficit that had cast a shadow on relations (with Pakistan).

    Dr. Singh said there were two dimensions to the problem of J&K internal as well as external involving Indo-Pakistan relations. "It is our intention and sincere desire to advance on both fronts towards resolving the problems through a process of dialogue,'' he said, while adding that the working groups and the roundtable process were part of the Government's efforts to find pragmatic and practical means of improving the quality of life of the people so that they led a life of self-respect and dignity.

    On the external front, the Prime Minister said the Government had engaged in talks with Pakistan to improve relations and resolve all pending issues.

    Efforts have been made and will continue to be made to work for a reconciliation recognising the interdependence of destinies. "However, these efforts will not be fruitful unless a peaceful environment is created through honouring of commitments made, in letter and spirit, to curb terrorist activities.''

    Reiterating the Government's commitment to a constructive dialogue, Dr. Singh hoped that those who had decided not to join the dialogue would also join the process and contribute to the resolution of the issues.

    Both the factions moderate and hardline of the Hurriyat Conference, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have been boycotting the roundtables.

    However, all major political parties attended the conference.

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