Letter: Kashmir conflict

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While the escalation of military activity in Kashmir is certainly cause for concern, your leader ("Kashmir must not turn into another Kosovo", 27 May) is misguided.

Using Kosovo as the prism through which to view every violent internal conflict that possesses an ethnic or religious dimension will hinder the search for solutions.

You suggest that Kashmiris are not being allowed a say in their own future and call for fair elections. In 1996 more than half the electorate voted in assembly elections that returned the National Conference of Dr Farooq Abdullah to power, ending six years of direct rule from Delhi.

While the actions of successive Indian governments have contributed to disaffection in Kashmir, considerable efforts have been made over the past few years to rectify these mistakes, not just politically but also in terms of protecting human rights.

What is undermining these efforts is the continued external support given by Pakistan (and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan) to armed Islamist fighters, infiltrating across the Line of Control from Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. The most valuable contribution that outsiders can make is to advise Pakistan to desist from such activity and to, instead, devote its efforts to discussing the Kashmir issue as provided for in the bilateral negotiating process initiated by the Lahore Declaration.

Dr JAMES CHIRIYANKANDATH

Department of Politics and Modern History

Guildhall University

London E1

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