A panel of the lower house of parliament has advised the government against encouraging any form of armed struggle in Indian-administered Kashmir in a series of policy recommendations on Pakistan-India relations.
“Pakistan should not encourage calls for active support of armed, banned, militant groups in Kashmir,” reads the four-page policy paper issued by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Monday.
The panel, headed by PML-N MNA Awais Ahmad Leghari, proposed the government to take action against violent armed outfits to dispel international concerns that Pakistan was not doing enough against groups involved in violent attacks in Kashmir.
Pakistan has long been accused by India of sponsoring militant groups active in the disputed territory. The bipartisan committee proposed a two-pronged strategy — selective engagement and restraint — on Pakistan-India ties.
The panel suggested that Pakistan’s policy towards India should be based on four key principles: reciprocity, reduction, resumption and result. “Pakistan should continue seeking comprehensive engagement with India on all outstanding issues.”
In the absence of this scenario, however, the committee recommended that the government engage with India on four key issues: Kashmir, water, trade, and culture and communication.
On Kashmir, the panel recommended that Pakistan continue calling for resolution of the dispute as the core issue between the two countries. “A key component of Pakistan’s proactive involvement on the Kashmir issue should be lending solid diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris’ struggle for their right to self-determination according to the UN resolutions.”
On water, the panel said the issues should be discussed holistically rather than focusing on particular projects. “Pakistan should actively highlight the violation of the Indus Water Treaty by India on international forums by drawing attention towards the humanitarian aspects and how these violations are adversely affecting Pakistan’s water resources and environment.”
On trade, the committee said Pakistan should focus more on reducing and controlling informal trade with India. “This can be done through enhancing the capacity of the customs department and the border forces. Furthermore, by relaxing the process to acquire visa, informal trade can be controlled.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2016.