Kashmir, which the Founder of the Nation termed the jugular vein of Pakistan, has remained a stumbling block for the normalisation of bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. It is a core issue with which is connected the future of peace in South Asia. There have been several rounds of talks among successive regimes, on both sides of the fence. During the late Benazir Bhutto’s term as Prime Minister, parliamentary Kashmir Committee was formed to internationally raise awareness of the cause of the Kashmiri people and their struggle to have the UN resolutions on the state’s fate implemented. In addition to this, a contact group was set up by the organisation of Islamic Conference to mould international opinion in favour of the Kashmir cause. As far as the role of the Kashmir committee is concerned, its performance has been far from satisfactory. When the federal cabinet decided to grant MFN status to India, it initially supported the decision.

A meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of senior member, Afzal Sindhu, where it expressed deep concern over the grant of MFN status saying that it was likely to damage the Kashmir cause. At the same time, it said it would undermine the movement launched by the Kashmiri people to liberate their motherland from the clutches of Indian occupation forces. The committee also advised the Foreign Office to direct our embassies and consulate offices abroad to organise special events to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day on Feb 5. The committee was of the view that as long as New Delhi does not agree to resolve the Kashmir conflict, it was not possible to proceed on other areas of mutual interest including two-way trade and Afghan Transit Trade Agreement. On the other hand, India is more than willing to talk of any subject under the sun, but Kashmir. Premier Gilani’s government is bent upon availing every opportunity to interact with India, propelled by American insistence. Islamabad also recently agreed to negotiate progress on the Turkmenistan gas pipeline project with India, when Federal Minister Dr Asim met his counterpart in New Delhi. The Kashmir issue must not be put on the backburner, nor should normalisation of relations with India come at the cost of silence on the struggle of our brothers and sisters in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The sentiments of the Pakistani people reflect that the Kashmiri struggle was and continues to remain a question of life and death for them.