Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened the third Round Table Conference on Kashmir in New Delhi on Tuesday with a call to Pakistan to stop terrorist activities, while the leaders from the State asked him to speed up the dialogue process with Pakistan and make it more transparent.
The third RTC attended by all mainstream parties and abstained by all separatist groups met at the time when the call for reduction of troops has reached its crescendo and Pakistani leaders are hinting at a soon-to-be-announced pact on Kashmir.
Setting the tone for the third RTC, which discussed recommendations of the four out of the five working groups constituted by him at the end of the second roundtable conference in Srinagar in May last year, Prime Minister said that the deployment of security forces would be directly related to scale of problems on the ground. It was a clear hint that the troops strength would be minimised.
Four working groups on confidence building measures had recommended the return of the Kashmiri youth from across the Line of Control, relief for victims of violence of all sorts - by security forces or terrorists, increased people to people contact, free flow of ideas and people and trade between the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The third group has recommended liberal financial assistance to the State for economic development of all the regions and sub regions, while the fourth group has sought the empowerment of the common man.
The fifth group dealing with Centre-State relations is yet to submit its report. The Prime Minister while terming the recommendations as a step forward, regretted that the "acts of terrorism derail our efforts towards restoring normalcy".
He touched upon the "concerns about human rights violations and undue harassment of people at large", and reiterated the pledge of zero tolerance to human rights violations. "We are committed to seeing that these are minimized."
While recognising the "important role" of security forces in maintaining peace in the State, Prime Minister said , "every possible action would be taken to see that the deployment of security forces is directly related to the scale of the problems on the ground which they are required to tackle."
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the merit of the " all-inclusive dialogue at the RTC should be recognised and there was a need to ease the travel procedure for the cross-LoC travel".
PDP leaders Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti said that there was a need to step up the dialogue process. Mehbooba said that the " troops reduction should be undertaken with immediate effect as a confidence building measure."
However, PDF chairman and Transport Minister Hakim Mohammad Yaseen, said, "No effort would yield the desired result, till the separatists are made part of the process. There should be a separate conference with them and if need be, a fourth Round Table Conference should be convened to make the process comprehensive and result- oruiented."
At the conference, Prime Minister was asked about the credibility of the reports quoting Pakistan leaders about the secret parleys and the soon to be announced pact on Kashmir, reiterated that how on the external front, his government was seeking reconciliation with Pakistan.
"On the external front vis-à-vis Pakistan, we have engaged sincerely with Pakistan to improve our relations and resolve all pending issues. Efforts have been made and will continue to be made to work for a reconciliation recognizing the interdependence of our destinies."
Along side, Dr Singh sounded a word of caution . He said that these "will not be fruitful unless a peaceful environment is created through honouring of commitments made, in letter and spirit, to curb terrorist activities". The RTC has agreed on some of the recommendations made by the working groups.