As Pakistan’s stand on disputed issues with India is based on fundamental principles of peace, justice and fair play, there hardly appears to be any justification for President Asif Ali Zardari to say that the two countries would have to move beyond their traditional positions in the settlement of their disputes, if they wanted meaningful results of their talks to ensue. Mr Zardari made this remark in a meeting with the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr S. M. Krishna, who called on him on Friday. In all fairness, the President should have reserved that counsel for New Delhi rather than bracketing Islamabad with it. For instance, the legitimacy and correctness of Pakistan’s stance on the main bone of contention with India i.e. the Kashmir dispute, stands unquestioned. It is a leftover matter of partition to resolve which New Delhi itself took the matter to the UN Security Council where it agreed that its final settlement would take place in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir through the mechanism of a UN-sponsored plebiscite. After a lengthy period of dillydallying on its resolution, it took the first opportunity to renege on that solemn commitment. We cannot overlook the fact that Kashmir involves the people’s inalienable right to decide their future, a principle that is unequivocally recognised by the world community today. Besides, from this very dispute has stemmed the water diversion and Siachen issues and it has been principally responsible for keeping relations between the two countries in a state of tension and distrust and, indeed, has led them to wars against each other. It is hard to visualise any just solution other than the already agreed upon. One hopes that when Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar stressed, in an interview with Asian News International and another Indian news agency on Friday, the need to settle the long-standing dispute of Kashmir, she had this very means of resolution in mind. The aspirations of the people of the state must be respected, not to mention the immense sacrifices they have made in their struggle to get rid of the clutches of the Indian rule. Both Pakistan and India should not lose sight of the ground realities in the illegally occupied part of the state. The reign of terror let loose by the Indian security forces has not deterred them from persisting in their demand for freedom from India. Notwithstanding, the callous indifference of the international community to their plight and the brutal treatment of the occupation forces they have to undergo, the Kashmiris have continued to make their intentions known through protests, which have been at times violent and at others peaceful, even at the risk of their lives. It would be criminal on the part of Pakistan not to continue to lend political, diplomatic and moral support to them and for India not to realise that its forcible hold of the state does not fit in with its democratic pretentions.