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(EXCREPTS) Kashmir an impediment to peace in South Asia: View from Bangladesh
by Saima Alvi
11 April 2002 12:00 UTC
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11 April 2002  Thursday  

Kashmir an impediment to peace in South Asia: View from Bangladesh 

By Habib Khan Ghori 

KARACHI, April 10: Brutal containment of the indigenous armed struggle by 
the Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir has not succeeded as Kashmir 
remains the focal point of a conflict that has frustrated the aspirations 
of the Kashmir people for peace and progress. The present situation seems 
to have foreclosed the possibility of a solution that satisfies the wishes 
of the majority of Kashmiris on the one hand and India and Pakistan on the 

These views were expressed by eminent journalist Enayetullah Khan, editor-
in-chief of weekly "Holiday", Dhaka, who was here to attend a two-day 
conference of South Asian Editors' Forum held on April 6 and 7. 

When asked how he visualized the emerging situation in the region since the 
present standoff between India and Pakistan, Mr Khan said: "In South Asia 
much has not changed. Pakistan's crisis emerging after Sept 11 continues as 
the Vajpayee government following the attack on the Indian Parliament has 
been escalating its campaign against Pakistan. I don't think a stage has 
been set for renewing a meaningful dialogue to resolve issues hampering a 
peace process in the region." 

Besides, he said, a setback in polls to the BJP, the Gujarat carnage, 
partisan issues related to election for staying in power have gone against 
the BJP and Vajpayee's moderation for which he was reputed. 

"Prospects for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute which remains a bone of 
contention between India and Pakistan, are doomed due to off again and on 
again sequence of resistance, whether supported by Pakistan or not," he 


Asked about problems between Bangladesh and India in the backdrop of 
Delhi's insistence for transit route from Bangladesh for its "seven 
sisters" (eastern provinces) and on the question of alleged infiltration of 
armed groups in its northren and eastern states, Mr Khan said: " We do have 
certain problems with India but not of the nature of security and military 
dimensions, although India continues to point fingers at Bangladesh for 
allowing militant groups to infiltrate into Northren and Eastern India. 

"The Indian issue in domestic electoral politics is no longer overt as 
political leaders on both sides of the divide do not raise its bogey as 
often as in the past. However, grievances over trade imbalance, foot 
dragging of the Indian government on duty free access to 25 Bangladesh 
commodities, border incursions by the Indian Border Security Force are the 
major issues which are talked about." 

"As for the water issue, it is settled although not to much satisfaction to 
Bangladesh." Likewise, he added, the Chittagong Hill Tracts insurgency has 
also been put under the carpet after a treaty. So there is no major dispute 
between us with a military dimension. 

About transit trade, Mr Khan said: "India still insists on transit trade 
from one part of its territory in eastern India to its north eastern part 
known as the seven sisters (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, 
Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya) with Bangladesh in between. For Bangladesh 
it is difficult to concede this Indian demand due to an inadequate 
infrastructure and also owing to the security implications involving 

Is there any impediment to the promotion of closer ties between Pakistan 
and Bangladesh? Mr Khan said: "There are still issues between Bangladesh 
and Pakistan. One issue relates to assets which would come on agenda when 
leaders from both sides would meet. Another issue pertains to the demand 
that Pakistan should offer apology for the genocide of the people of 
Bangladesh during its army action." However, he added, these are issues 
which do not impede our mutual beneficial trade and economic relations as 
Pakistan does not really feature in domestic politics. 

"I personally don't hold prejudices against the people of Pakistan despite 
suffering during the independence struggle for my commitment and role as 
the people of Pakistan were not involved nor did they have correct 
knowledge of the army operation. 

"likewise, as far as India is concerned, we don't have any jaundiced view 
of the Indian polity. Bangladesh is at the centre of Saarc and India and 
Pakistan ought to collaborate more closely to take the Saarc process 
further, particularly in the area of South Asian Preferential Trading 
rrangement (Sapta) and South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta). 

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