NEW YORK - A prominent Kashmiri leader has called for resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan on the basis of principles of self-determination, saying the region was “not realestate that can be parceled out” between the two countries.

 Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness, also urged the United States to lead a multilateral effort to find a solution to the decades old dispute.

“Wewould like to stress that the urgent goal of finding the solution of thecurrent situation in Kashmir cannot be left to India and Pakistan to achieve,”  he said in a letter published in The New York Times on Wednesday.

The letter, headlined ‘Kashmir Has Its Own Identity’ was in response to a July 22 editorial in the Times, which said that the unrest in Kashmir was “a major setback forpeace in the long-troubled region claimed by both India and Pakistan.”

Fai wrote:

“Wewould like to stress that the urgent goal of finding the solution of thecurrent situation in Kashmir cannot be left to India and Pakistan to achieve.It requires the engagement of a multilateral effort on American initiative. Webelieve that it would be a striking demonstration of the global statesmanshipwhich the United States can summon in the cause of peace, internationalsecurity and human betterment. Here is why:

“NawazSharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, said on July 22: ‘We are waiting forthe day when Kashmir becomes part of Pakistan.’ Shushma Swaraj, minister ofexternal affairs in India, said on July 23: ‘The whole of Jammu and of Kashmirbelongs to India.’

“Kashmiris wish to emphasize that their land is not realestate that can be parceled out between India and Pakistan, but the home of anation with a history far more compact and coherent than India’s and far longerthan Pakistan’s.

“No settlementof their status will hold unless it is explicitly based on the principles ofself-determination and gives the people the choice whether to join India orPakistan or remain independent.”