Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha has said that differences with Pakistan over the Line of Control in Kashmir are narrowing, and stressed that borders could not be changed, but made irrelevant.
It is for the first time that a high functionary of Jammu and Kashmir has commented in such terms in which the visions outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf have found some convergence.
In November 2004, the prime minister had maintained that borders cannot be redrawn and refined the statement by saying that those can be reduced to line on map. Musharraf, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of October 8, 2005, had called for making the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan irrelevant.
Based on these statements, the governor said: "Pakistan is opposed to the status quo in Kashmir and wants the LoC to be made irrelevant. We are committed to borders not being changed but are agreeable to LoC being made irrelevant. Let the LoC be converted into a line of peace and prosperity with free movement of people and trade from either side."
Delivering the Admiral Katari Memorial Lecture 2006 on secessionist threats to India at the DRDO auditorium in New Delhi on Monday evening, the governor exuded confidence that notwithstanding various hitches and hurdles in the way of finding a final solution to the much vexed Kashmir problem, a solution would emerge in due course.
Excerpts of his speech were released in Jammu on Tuesday.
Envisioning a solution on the pattern of European Union, the governor said that such a solution "can provide a win-win situation for everyone, India, Pakistan and the people of different regions of Jammu and Kashmir."
"This will enable us all to fight unitedly against our common enemy of poverty, ignorance and disease."
He reiterated his oft-stated version of Kashmir problem, attributing secessionist movement and its rise primarily to religious fundamentalism. "This poses the most serious challenge to our national security."
He described Kashmir problem as a very complicated and complex one having international dimensions and said that Kashmir was one of the hotspots of the world, more so after India and Pakistan became nuclear powers and referred to the three wars between the two countries in 1947-48, 1965 and 1971.
The governor said that the three-pronged strategy, Unified Command of Security Forces, Economic Development and Psychological Initiatives, have been yielding favourable results. The level of violence in terms of the total number of people killed, terrorists, civilians and security forces, has come down steadily from nine per day in 2002 to three per day in 2006. He said though the estimated strength of terrorists inside Kashmir has reduced by nearly 50 per cent yet they retain the capability to execute acts of high-profile violence like car bombs, suicide bombing, IED explosions and so on. Infiltration from across the LoC has continued since the terrorist camps in PoK have remained intact. Infiltration has now also been taking place across the international border from Bangladesh and Nepal.
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