ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari yesterday said he supported soft borders to allow free movement for the Kashmiris as Pakistan and India find ways to settle the longstanding dispute.

The statement came as Islamabad and New Delhi deferred the foreign secretary level talks. The two sides were in contact to finalise a new date for the meeting.

Bilawal said his mother Benazir Bhutto had also proposed soft borders as far back as 1999 and the PPP introduced the South Asian Preferential Tariff Agreement as well as the concept of groups of people, like parliamentarians and judges, travelling in the SAARC countries without visas.

Talking to a delegation of the PPP leaders from Azad Jammu Kashmir at the Zardari House here, he said the people of Kashmir were a key to a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute and the PPP will continue to support them in their just struggle.

The delegation included President AJK Sardar Mohammed Yaqub Khan, Prime Minister AJK Chaudhry Abdul Majid, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of AJK Assembly, cabinet ministers and PPP AJK office bearers. Faryal Talpur was also present on the occasion.

The PPP chief said resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir was also central to peace in the region.

“The PPP wishes to take South Asia on to the path of peace and prosperity with a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute with respect and honour. This path lies through confidence building, conflict management and creation of a trading bloc of nations to improve the living conditions of all people of South Asia,” he said.

However, he said, the fundamental rights of the people of Kashmir cannot be sidelined or ignored. “There can be no greater fundamental right than the right to franchise of a people,” he added.

Bilawal said the PPP welcomed the recent overtures between Pakistan and India to resume the dialogue process and expressed the hope the process will continue un-interrupted and will not be allowed to be derailed by the recent attack on an airbase in India by militants.

He said the PPP has noted the promise made by the government of Pakistan to investigate and pursue to the logical conclusion any evidence of Pakistanis involvement in the airbase attack.

“The PPP has also noted the claims of the government that the offices of the said banned outfits are being traced and sealed and their members detained,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a meeting of PPP-AJK was held at the Zardari House. The meeting adopted several resolutions.

“The PPP AJK lauded the contributions of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, former President Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, Chairman PPP Bilawal Zardari and Faryal Talpur supporting the just struggle of Kashmiris for the right of self-determination,” a party statement said.

The PPP AJK appreciated the contribution of PPP leadership for democracy in Pakistan and strengthening the federation by the National Finance Commission award and restoration of 1973 constitution in its original form, it said.

The PPP AJK expressed confidence on the leadership of Bilawal and Zardari, the statement said.

The meeting appreciated the Prime Minister and government of AJK for the development projects, establishing universities and three medical colleges, it said.

Addressing the meeting, Bilawal said the critical issues that needed to be addressed in Gilgit-Baltistan were protecting the fundamental rights of the people, empowering the GB Assembly, giving them a share in the CPEC projects.

He said whenever the PPP was in government, it had taken concrete policy decisions to empower the people of Gilgit Baltisan.

“That process of empowering the people of GB must not only continue but should be stepped up further,” said the PPP chief.