World community interested in Kashmir problem, says former Norwegian premier

 

 

Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik has said that international community is interested in Kashmir and that he was willing to mediate between India and Pakistan over the long-pending dispute.

“We can’t ignore the fact that the international community is interested in the issue, there have been UN resolutions on Kashmir, and recently, there was a report of the UN Human Right Commission. So there is an international interest,” Bondevik was quoted as having said by the Indian Express.

He said if India and Pakistan could solve the matter without help, “it is good, then they must come to the table because the situation in Kashmir is escalating”.

He said: “I am convinced there is no military solution to the Kashmir problem”.

Bondevik said it was imperative that the Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control should also be involved in the working out of any solution, “because they are the people most affected”.

Bondevik acknowledged that his visit to the Valley must have been cleared by Delhi as it was the first time a foreign dignitary has visited the Valley and met with Hurriyat leaders but he underlined that he had no contact with anyone in the Indian government.

He said as the J&K Assembly had been dissolved, he did not meet any of its former members, nor any government officials.

“I know that it was something new and it was a surprise to many that I was allowed to visit Kashmir. That I was allowed is a fact, but who took that decision in the Indian government, I do not know,” he said.

Talking on his visit to both parts of divided Kashmir, he said his meetings with various sections of Kashmiris, including the separatists, were “useful” and helped him to “get an overview” of the problem.

On November 23, Bondevik met two top Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who briefed him about the “fragile” political situation in Kashmir and the need for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Bodevik also visited the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir Muzaffarabad, and discussed the “latest situation” in Jammu and Kashmir with the PaK president Sardar Masood Khan.

Bondevik briefed PaK president Khan about his visit to Srinagar and a meeting with the Joint Resistance Leadership there, reports said.

“If I am asked to play a role by both (governments of India and Pakistan), I am willing to do so,” he said but he also underlined that there was no such invitation at the moment from the Indian side.

“I am not naive, I am aware that India is approaching an election,” Bondevik said adding that this was not the time to talk about an India-Pakistan dialogue on Kashmir. “I respect India’s position that it does not want an outsider (engaging) in Kashmir, and that its issues with Pakistan are bilateral.”

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