India and Pakistan should go beyond confidence building measures (CBMs) and focus on the resolution of the Kashmir issue, a Pakistani minister has said, suggesting demilitarisation of both sides of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan's Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas Tahir Iqbal voiced confidence that progress in the Indo-Pak peace process will be made after the foreign secretary-level talks scheduled next week and a visit to Islamabad by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
India and Pakistan will have to go beyond the confidence building measures and should concentrate on the "actual problem", which is the resolution of the Kashmir issue, he said.
On more than one occasion, Iqbal talked of demilitarisation not only of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) but the whole state.
This could be done in a number of ways including removing troops from the Line of Control (LoC) to make the bilateral dialogue of Kashmir fruitful, he told a seminar on "India-Pakistan Composite Dialogue Process and the Issue of Kashmir", organised by Kashmir American Council here.
"Demilitarisation will help cross-border movement of people which will be helpful," he said.
"Overall, the sorting of the problem has not started" Iqbal claimed while calling for an 'out of the box' thinking as suggested by the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Prime Minister Singh "may have suggested a few things that have not surfaced in the media", Iqbal claimed without elaborating.
Iqbal said while Pakistan has shown a lot of flexibility, it will not be correct to say India has not done so.
"Nothing by India? I don't agree with that," he said, observing that "it may take a little time, but there will be a resolution of the Kashmir problem. We need to bring them (India) to the table...Eventually there will be some solution".
Iqbal refused to buy a notion that the CBMs have not achieved anything in the bilateral dialogue." We lost confidence of each other.
That's why we had the partition... We need CBMs. They are required. The ice has started melting," he said.
But the bottom line is a triangular way of going about resolving the Kashmir problem as the "most important" aspect of it are the people of Kashmir, he said, adding that they "should be a part of any solution".
The Kashmir problem has engaged India and Pakistan for sixty years that included three wars and involvement of the United Nations, he said.
"Should we wait for another sixty years...?" the Pakistani Minister posed telling the audience that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint.
"Pakistan wants peaceful resolution of the problem," Iqbal maintained, contending the peace process should not be de-railed.
Iqbal repeated the standard Pakistani line that Pakistan "is not sending any terrorists across the border".