3 day K-Conference: SAARC Delegates Pitch for LoC Trade, Communication Expansion



The delegates of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member nations who participated in a three days conference at tourist resort of Sonamarg unanimously impressed upon India and Pakistan to expand LoC trade and communication in the interest of the people residing in both parts of Kashmir.

The three day conference, “South Asia Friendship Conference” at Sonamarg that was attended by about 175 delegates from SAARC countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan concluded with a hope that both India and Pakistan will take serious measures to resolve the Kashmir issue. The delegates of Pakistan could not attend the conference as their Visas didn’t get cleared in time. Throughout the conference the delegates exchanged views on the Kashmir situation and other aspects of South Asia politics.

The conference, according to CNS, featured an impressive group of South Asia experts, including Human Rights activist from Bangladesh Prof Anees-u-Zaman, Supreme Court lawyer from Bangladesh Dr Muhammad Shahjahan, Afghanistan HR activist Jalal Khan, Ghandian Social activist from India Khairati Lal Bhola and Hindu scholar and civil society member Swami Agnivesh.

The participants in the conference argued that the status quo is not an answer to the Kashmir conflict and called for the recognition of the Line of Control as an international border. Speaking on the occasion, Hindu scholar Swami Agnivesh said that a certain amount of back-channel facilitation would help in resolving Kashmir issue, but active involvement and mediation from the international community would not work. India and Pakistan must reach an agreement on their own first. He also added that dialogue, not violence, is the only solution to Kashmir problem, and that such a dialogue should not exclude the people on both sides of the border.

The participants argued that unless and until India and Pakistan do not lift restriction imposed on the people living in both parts of Kashmir, the problem will persist. “Let the people of Kashmir living in both parts be allowed to trade and communicate freely and you will find a sea change on the ground. After all the history, tradition and culture of people living in two parts of Kashmir is one,” they said.

The participants said the Kashmir issue should be resolved peacefully and through “meaningful and substantive” talks with India and both sides should work on addressing the mistrust that exists and divides them.

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