NATIONAL

Extreme positions must be given up, says Jethmalani

JAMMU NOV. 24. The Kashmir Committee chairman, Ram Jethmalani, today said all the parties need to give up their extreme positions to find a solution to the Kashmir problem.

Before leaving for New Delhi after a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Jethmalani said the separatists must give up the secessionist stand and the BJP the demand of abrogation of Article 370 that bestowed special status on the State. "Some midway has to be found. The extreme positions are no longer tenable,'' he said.

Mr Jethmalani said both the Hurriyat Conference and Shabir Shah's Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) agreed to go ahead with talks. Maintaining that the committee was happy to see a new government in place, which he said had started delivering effectively. "If they gave good governance, militancy will decline on its own''.

He said, "We have to give Pakistan an honourable face-saving device''. Though he had no contact with the Pakistani Kashmir Committee "we are ready to talk to them, whether we go there or they come here''.

Mr. Jethmalani said vested interests in both Pakistan and India were the main hurdle in restoring peace in the State. "Some sections in Pakistan's military establishment and some in our bureaucracy who have made fortunes out of this conflict do not want to see peace returning to the State."

The committee's convener, Ashok Bhan, said they had fruitful meetings with the Governor, G.C. Saxena, the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mangat Ram Sharma, and Kashmiri Pandits.