India, Pakistan Agree to Resume Talks on Kashmir
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India and Pakistan agreed today to resume talks on Kashmir, the northern Himalayan region that the South Asian archenemies have fought two wars over.
Indian Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit will visit Islamabad on Jan. 1 to resume talks canceled last year after New Delhi said one of its diplomats was beaten up in Pakistan.
Dixit will meet with his Pakistani counterpart, Shahryar Khan, and ″all aspects of Kashmir will be discussed,″ said a statement released by the Indian Foreign Ministry. It did not give details.
The resumption of talks could help defuse tensions between Pakistan and India and reduce the saber-rattling over Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region divided between the two countries after their 1965 war.
India and international human rights organizations often accuse Pakistan of fueling a separatist insurgency in Kashmir by training and arming Muslim militants. Pakistan denies the charge.
In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement announcing the talks, but also accusing India of conducting a disinformation campaign to ″vilify Pakistan″ by blaming it for aiding the Kashmir insurgency.
″We would like to once again urge Indian authorities to abandon the proclivity to blame Pakistan for their own failures and inadequacies,″ the statement said.
At least 7,500 people have been killed in the fighting in Kashmir. Many people in the area support the guerrilla groups, some fighting for independence and some for union with Pakistan.
Pakistan says India broke a promise to hold a referendum to find out if the state wants to remain a part of Hindu-dominated India, join Muslim Pakistan, or become independent.
The dispute started in 1947, when the Indian subcontinent was divided along religious lines into India and Pakistan by its former colonial ruler, Britain. Kashmir, then an independent state ruled by a Hindu king, opted to join India soon after troops of the newly formed Pakistan invaded his land.
India has refused to hold the referendum, saying Kashmir is an integral part of India. It also fears that such a move would strengthen secessionist campaigns in other areas of India.
If the talks take place on Jan. 1-3 as planned, it would be the seventh time that the two countries’s foreign secretaries have discussed Kashmir.