Respect political situation in Kashmir: UN peace panel head

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United Nations, April 28: Taking a hands-off approach on Kashmir, UN Peace Building Commission chair Macharia Kamau has said that the primacy of politics and the local conditions that drive any negotiations between India and Pakistan have to be "respected."

Answering questions at a news conference, Kamau said that the Kashmir issue "will be resolved in the context of the local domestic political environment between Pakistan and India." Kamau is also Kenya's Permanent Representative to the UN.

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Outlining the Commission's three-fold approach to the Kashmir issue, he cited "the primacy of politics" and said, "We have to respect the local conditions that drive the negotiations."

Another element was that "we respect the idea they must sustain peace, so the situation cannot be allowed to deteriorate," he said.

And he set the limit to any role in dealing with the dispute, ruling out any direct involvement. He said, "We reach out to as many of the institutions within the subcontinent to support this (peace) process moving forward. That is the ambition that we would have for that process on the subcontinent."

"Will it have an overnight fundamental impact that would change everything on the ground?" Kamau asked rhetorically and said, "That is a 'may be' precisely because the situations on the ground are driven by different forces other than the ones that we are looking to address ourselves."

Responding to a reporter's question if that meant a solution to the almost 70-year dispute was not likely, he said, "We never say never in our business. That is not the way."

He added, "The whole idea of building peace is to always seek solutions and look for the historical moment, the historical opportunity that will avail of the opportunity to engage and to bring the instruments that are now available to us in the context of the resolutions to bear on the situation".

At the same time it has to be done "keeping in mind, as I said, that we have to respect primacy of the political situation on the ground," he again emphasised.

Asked by a Pakistani reporter if it meant a peace process will depend on Indian's willingness to talk, Kamau said, "I wouldn't go as far as to say that." And he yet again added the caveat, "What I would say is that the situation on the ground has to be respected. And it isn't about any one country. It is about all the political players on the ground."

India has maintained that the Kashmir issue was a bilateral matter with Pakistan and has opposed any outside involvement in dealing with it. Islamabad conceded in the 1972 Simla Agreement that the issue would be dealt with between the two countries.

IANS

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