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Declare Kashmir a zone of peace: Karl Bruce

It is a case of literally going out and meeting the people irrespective of their stand or ideology.That is a shift of perspective, says Karl Bruce, a British intellectual and an expert on Oriental Religion and Cultures.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2002 10:59 IST

Q: Do you think there is a solution to Kashmir problem?

KB: Why not when other bitter disputes have been resolved we must be optimistic about a solution to the Kashmir issue too. In my opinion the first step in this direction would be to let Kashmir, I mean the entire Kashmir be declared a peace zone and people allowed to travel back and forth without visa restrictions from one part to the other. This Project for declaring a peace zone has gone before the United Nations, they are trying to do with many small countries.

When I go out here I meet some Kashmiris who would not talk to other Kashmiris and yet say I am a Kashmiri, I am Kashmiri. What does it mean? And where does the boundary end? Why should there be a boundary? Before the first World War everybody was able to travel freely without visas or passports. May be we can break down the artificial boundaries again. And have this lovely soft option where people can flow back and forth and see the member of the family across the boundaries.

Q: Do you think religious fundamentalism will prevent an easy solution in Kashmir?

KB: It does not matter which creed or path of religion we come from. Because, if we step into spirit, we recognise the oneness between all. But recognising it and doing something about it is a different matter.

Q: What role do you think activists and NGOs can play in solving Kashmir issue?

KB: It is the time when we the people still have to assert ourselves. People are learning to become self-empowered, self-governing and wanting to be heard and you have to create this arena.

I think it is the same case as saying, "We the people, we the people of good-will, we will create the arena". I the politicians won't do it, if the parties won't come forward, if the leaders won't do anything about it, yes, then silent army of God standing up and saying, "we are going to be counted".

Q: Do you advocate unconditional talks with Kashmiris?

KB: Yes, it is a case of literally going out and meeting the people irrespective of their stand or ideology. That is a shift of perspective, call them militants, call them patriots. It does not matter where you stand, they are still the people of Kashmir and they do deserve to be heard.

Q: What has resulted in violence in the valley?

KB: Perhaps the frustration of local people has turned into violence. But it is possible to turn out that whole community back again into something positive. Because they do say at the end of the day that the potent force upon the earth, whether we recognise it or not, is power of love. I discovered that more than travel I talked to so many people, who like me over the years, have come to love their land and weep in silence at the devastation that is unfolding there. They are feeling helpless.

First Published: Sep 16, 2002 22:33 IST