New Delhi, June 27: India today proposed a peace and tranquillity treaty to Pakistan in search of a durable cessation of hostility on the border.
Such a treaty has been in operation with China since 1993 when P.V. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister and has acted as a strong bulwark against frequent disputes over violations of the boundary.
The treaty is a guarantee that peace and tranquillity will be maintained until the main dispute on the border is resolved.
India’s proposal for the treaty came as the foreign secretaries put on the table measures to build confidence in each other.
Pakistan’s response is not yet known and may, if at all, be available only tomorrow when the two-day talks end.
From statements made today, however, it appeared as if the Pakistani side was taking the peace process a step back.
Departing from the joint statement by Pervez Musharraf and Atal Bihari Vajpayee on January 6, it said the Kashmir dispute could not be resolved without the participation of the “principal party” — the Kashmiris.
“There is no change in Pakistan’s stand. Kashmiris are a principal party to the dispute and a viable solution has to be based on the aspirations of the Kashmiri people,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said.
Musharraf and Vajpayee had agreed to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally. In the joint statement issued at the time in Islamabad, there was no mention of involving the Kashmiris.
Visiting Pakistan foreign secretary Riaz Khokar — as a part of engaging the “principal party” — held a meeting with some leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a Kashmiri separatist grouping.
The two foreign secretaries — Khokar and Shashank — today discussed peace, security and confidence-building-measures. Talks on Kashmir and ways to take the peace process forward are scheduled tomorrow when discussions on India’s proposal for a treaty are possible.
The treaty with China says: “Pending an ultimate solution to the boundary question…, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control. No activities of either side shall overstep the Line of Actual Control. In case personnel of one side cross the Line of Actual Control, upon being cautioned by the other side, they shall immediately pull back to their own side.”
After the first day, both sides said the discussions were “positive, constructive and being held in a friendly atmosphere”.
Khan said a conflict-resolution mechanism was required between the two countries and described the composite dialogue started by the two foreign secretaries as one such.
A proposal is under consideration to reduce troops in Kashmir, but neither side gave details, saying if there is an agreement, it will be announced tomorrow.
A number of other steps on the table were agreed.
India, which played an active role in getting Pakistan the membership of the Asean Regional Forum early this year, has asked Islamabad to reciprocate by helping Delhi enter the Organisation of Islamic Conference.