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Pakistani Kashmir PM moots joint development fund for both sides

Wednesday June 01, 2011 02:58:48 PM, IANS

Jammu: Sardar Attique Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, wants the Jammu and Kashmir government's rehabilitation policy for militants to be extended to the entire population of refugees living on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC).

He also wants a joint development fund to be set up for the two parts of the state.

While appreciating the rehabilitation policy of the Jammu and Kashmir government for the Kashmiri youths returning from his side of the state, Attique said it should apply to 2.1 million refugees as well.

Attique's father and former prime minister of the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sardar Qayoom Khan, is hailed as "Mujahid-e-Awal" or the first warrior for having supported the separatist movement in Kashmir by backing the armed insurgency on this side of Jammu and Kashmir.

In an interview published in the Kashmir Times on Wednesday, Attique Khan touched upon various issues, but his main thrust was on reconciliation and intra-Kashmir dialogue, which he argued should be institutionalised from its current "informal nature". The theme of the interview was reconciliation.

Mooting joint development fund for the two parts of the state, separated by the LoC, Attique Khan pleaded for some initiatives which could break the ice and give a new meaning to the proposed reconciliation process.

"Kashmir includes the undivided state as it stood in 1947 and by 'Kashmiris' we mean all its people irrespective of their caste, colour, creed, faith or ethnicity. When we talk of cross-LoC interactions, they need not remain restricted to informal talks. They need to move towards a more institutionalised set-up," he said.

Claiming to go a "step further" than former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf who talked of a joint mechanism, Attique said,"(I) call for setting up a joint development fund. Let us cooperate as much as we can - in tourism, sports, trade etc. - so that these funds can be used for development of the state on both sides and its people."

Regarding the Jammu and Kashmir government's rehabilitation policy for the youths who had crossed over to the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir leaders call "Azad Kashmir", Attique Khan said, "Those who have come here are part of the state and it is the right of the people to stay in any part of the state, this side or that. Post-'90 those who crossed the Line of Control, we already have strategies in place to rehabilitate them."

The Jammu and Kashmir government's rehabilitation policy envisages return and rehabilitation of the Kashmiri youth who had crossed over to the other side of the LOC in 1990s when militancy was a magnet for them.

Attique, however, felt, "This initiative that has been taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government on that side could have been a good initiative had it involved people who have migrated since 1947. There are 2.1 million refugees. Why should they start with a cut-off from recent years? It should have been all-inclusive."

In fact, the Farooq Abdullah government had passed a resettlement bill in 1982 which envisaged all these refugees or their descendents returning and reclaiming their properties.

The bill was opposed by all non-Kashmiri parties, including the Congress as it was feared that it would open the floodgates for Pakistanis and could unsettle the refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir who had come to this side to escape brutalities and atrocities committed on them by the tribals who had invaded the state in 1947.

Attique stressed, "We have no objection if people want to go back on their own without any element of coercion and without being met by harassment. We also have no problems if more people want to cross the LoC to come this side. But I would still want the scope of this package to include all kinds of migrations in the last 63 years."




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