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India asked to repeal forces special powers act in IHK

Chinars’ Old Leaves are Falling Islamabad

Participants of a Civil Society Dialogue titled “Chinars’ Old Leaves are Falling – Fresh Saplings in the 1st Citizens’ Dialogue on Kashmir ” have condemned the recent civilian killings in Kashmir.

The participants reminded government of India its obligation to protect the right to life in accordance with international law. They unanimously demanded the revocation of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) to improve the ground situation and conduct an independent inquiry into the use of excessive force against the civilians including many children in the valley.

The participants including civil society activists, politicians, legislators, journalists, former government officials from Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and refugees settled in Pakistan were holding deliberations as part of civil society dialogue titled “Chinars’ Old Leaves are Falling – Fresh Saplings in the First Citizens’ Dialogue on Kashmir” jointly organized by the Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) and the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung fur die Freiheit (FNF), supported by the European Union.

They also extended full support to the India-Pakistan dialogue ahead of the India-Pakistan foreign ministers’ meeting to be held on July 15 in Islamabad . However, they strongly urged India and Pakistan to take effective and assertive measures required to make the renewed process meaningful, productive, and result oriented so that the people of Jammu and Kashmir across LoC could own and wholeheartedly support the peace process in the long run. It was strongly felt that the favorable environment for talks and forward movement can be created when life, honour and property of people of Jammu and Kashmir is guaranteed.

In this connection, the participants profoundly condemned the recent civilians’ killings in the Kashmir Valley . They reminded government of India its obligation to protect the right to life in accordance with international law. The participants unanimously demanded the revocation of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSA), to improve the ground situation and conduct an independent inquiry of the recent use of excessive forces against the civilians including many children.

The participants while appreciating the Confidence Building Measures (CBM), taken by both governments in past demanded steps to make them more meaningful and hassle free. They asked New Delhi and Islamabad to further facilitate intra-Kashmir travel and trade.

It was ardently felt that the intra-Jammu and Kashmir dialogue had tremendously helped people of former state of Jammu and Kashmir to broaden their understanding about each others’ aspirations and develop common minimum agenda to arrive on a consensus stand.

The participants hoped that both governments would encourage frequent civil society interaction leading to political dialogue through Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot route.

They urged political leadership of former state of Jammu and Kashmir to develop consensus among them and narrow down their demands and come up with clear vision. The participants of Gilgit-Baltistan favored the democratic process in GB and further expressed that trust deficit and communication gap between people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir do exist which should be bridged through frequent civil society interaction, fostering government level relations, exchange of parliamentary delegations, political activists, youth groups so to create harmony and comprehensions of the aspiration of the people of GB and AJK.

They urged the government of Azad Kashmir to reserve quota in jobs and educational intuitions for the inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan to intact the centuries old bound between the two regions. Likewise, government of GB should also explore and create opportunities where professionals form AJK could contribute.

The participants noted that existence of multiple power centers in Azad Kashmir not only cause mistrust between Islamabad and Muzaffarabad but also hinder the smooth running of the government and delivering of services to the people. Additionally, it was strongly felt that the executive powers vested in the Kashmir Council undermine the democratically elected setup in Azad Kashmir.

To abolish this dual power system, the participants urged Azad Kashmir government and political parties to get robustly sort out these problems thorough sustain dialogue with Islamabad before next state elections in July 2011.

URL : www.dailynews.com

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