India-Pak 'interim' agreement on Kashmir was for 15 yrs: Kasuri

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Lahore, Apr.28 (ANI): Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri has revealed that India and Pakistan, through back-channel diplomacy, had evolved an 'interim' agreement on the Kashmir issue, and that it was subject to review after 15 years.

Kasuri said that both New Delhi and Islamabad, while working out the agreement, had realised that in view of the long standing dispute over Kashmir, none of the solutions that they evolve would resolve the issue, so the 'interim' agreement was the best possible solution available under circumstances at that time.

"We were aware of the fact that there would be an overwhelming support for this agreement; but we also realised that there would be criticism from some sections in Kashmir, Pakistan and India," Kasuri told The News, on the sidelines of 'Aman Ki Asha' - a joint peace initiative by the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India.

He said it was decided that after the implementation of the said agreement, it would be monitored by all concerned parties, so that improvements could be made.

Kasuri claimed that both countries had conducted secret negotiations with all stakeholders because they wanted to avoid any spins or leaks, which could damage the level of trust between the parties.

"They could not have signed an agreement without authorisation from their respective cabinets and parliaments. The whole idea was to produce a draft which the governments of Pakistan and India felt would be acceptable to the large majority of Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Indians," he added

Referring to allegations from religio-political parties from across the border, that the proposed agreement was an attempt to sell out Kashmir, Kasuri said the basis of the agreement was the assumption that India and Pakistan had tried everything in their power to enforce their own versions of settlement on Kashmir issue.

"They have fought five wars, including two minor ones in the Rann of Katch and Kargil. There have been various mobilisations of troops, including the largest one since First World War (Operation Parakram), in which one million soldiers remained eyeball-to-eyeball for almost a year," he added.

Kasuri also noted that since both the neighbouring countries have acquired nuclear power, a full-scale war between them is nearly impossible.

Backing Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's statement that efforts were being made through the back-channel diplomacy to resolve all outstanding issues with India, the former foreign minister said it was important that negotiations be resumed because Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's government with which Islamabad negotiated the arrangement was still in power.

"And the BJP the other majority party had started the process during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee," he added. (ANI)

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