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Pak should ensure democracy in PoK: Saran

Pakistan will have to ensure democracy in PoK before it spells out any idea of self-rule for discussion on J&K, the former foreign secretary said.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 13:05 IST

Pakistan will have to ensure democracy to the grass-root level in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), Gilgit and Baltistan before it spells out any idea of self-rule for discussion on Jammu and Kashmir, former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has said.

"We have spoken about self-governance. For us self-governance is something, which means that there should be representative institutions.

There should be institutions which reflect the concerns and aspirations of people," Saran, who is at present Prime Minister's special envoy on US nuclear deal, said on Wednesday night at book release function — "A J&K Primer" by columnist BG Verghese.

"On one side of the Line of Control (Jammu and Kashmir), we believe that such an institution exists. There is an elected assembly.... We will hope that there are similar representative entities on the Pakistani side of the LoC including Gilgit and Baltistan.

Saran, who was giving a broad outline of the India's approach on the Kashmir issue at the function, said, "We need to hear from Pakistan what are the kind of steps that would be taken with regard to creation of such institutions."

Saran said during talks with Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clearly spelt out that he did not have the mandate to alter the boundaries but he had the mandate to make these boundaries irrelevant.

"So our approach to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is that this is part and parcel of the larger search for peace and friendship between the two countries...

Our ability to take this dialogue process in a positive direction is very much related to the creating of an atmosphere which is free of violence," Saran added.