UN resolutions on Kashmir issue can’t be diminished: Ambassador Yusuf Buch

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Washington: The UN resolutions allowing self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir remain absolutely valid and provide a basis for settlement of the lingering dispute, top expert Ambassador Yusuf Buch said at a forum as American and international participants discussed ways to address security implications arising from the South Asian status quo.
Speaking at the forum organized by the American Muslim Alliance Foundation on “Afghanistan-Kashmir and the Regional Jigsaw Puzzle,” Ambassador Buch said the passage of decades cannot obscure the value of the UN Security Council resolutions, which clearly call for addressing the dispute in accordance to will of the people.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Howard Shcaffer and renowned Norwegian sociologist Dr Johan Galtang also addressed the forum.
In his presentation, Ambassador Buch said the Pakistani-Indian trade and confidence building moves and some major powers’ current focus on Afghanistan cannot diminish the critical importance of the Kashmir to regional peace and nor lessen the importance of UN resolutions. The people of Kashmir have gone through untold sufferings in the face of repression in the heavily militarized Indian occupied region.
About the Line of Control, he said, it is perceived as the line of conflict and in no way represents any kind of provisional border negotiated at any point between India and Pakistan.
On the contrary, it is but a glorified term conferred on the line demarcated in 1949. That line was a cease-fire line – drawn under the aegis of the United Nations Commission, preparatory to the withdrawal of forces by the parties and the holding of the plebiscite jointly agreed by them.
It was meant to keep the fighting stopped while the parties proceeded to further steps towards conclusive peace,” Ambassador Buch, who is a highly regarded as authority on UN role towards Kashmir settlement, explained.
While stressing the validity of the UN resolutions, Buch cautioned that retrieving an agreement on Kashmir does not mean mindlessly adhering to every period and comma in it.
“It does not exclude taking cognizance jointly of the changes that have occurred and making suitable amendments by mutual acceptance — instead of a single plebiscite deciding the future of all the ethnic zones on a one-size-suits-all basis, a way has to be found to enable each zone to express its will independently of other zones.”
In his keynote address, Dr Galtung said, “A resolution to longstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute would demand bold political leadership and moves on both sides.” The writer of hundreds of books, Dr Galtung also questioned U.S. nuclear partnership with India due to the South Asian country’s unwillingness to address Kashmir and other social problems like caste system that plague the advancement of millions of its people.
He floated the idea that Azad Kashmir, Indian held Kashmir Valley and Jammu could be declared one area without borders, where people may move freely and felt that at a later stage people could decide their allegiance to the country of their choice.
He also envisioned the possibility of a broader region including Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Kashmir as forming a very strong economic zone.
In his speech, Ambassador Schaffer proposed a “grand bargain” in the current regional situation marked by tensions between Pakistan and the United States over situation in Afghanistan as well as the state of affairs in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Under the bargain, he suggested, Washington should offer Islamabad what it wants in Afghanistan but argued that Pakistan must in return agree to settle the Kashmir dispute along the Line of Control which he called the current “geographic line.”
At the same time, he said, Pakistan should assume responsibility for preventing terrorism out of Afghanistan.
“This is not a panacea, nor would it be easy to execute,” he said.
Schaffer also acknowledged difficulties Pakistan would face in accepting such a bargain as Kashmir has a much tighter hold on national heartstrings than Afghanistan.
Dr Agha Saeed, founder chairman of American Muslim Alliance, Dr Jamal Barzingi, an Arab-American businessman and leader of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, Peter Erlinder, founding president of National Lawyers’ Guild, and Dr Salim Akhtar, National Director at AMA, also attended the event.

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