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Prime Minister's Closing Remarks at the Third Roundtable Conference on Jammu & Kashmir

Presented below is the full text of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's closing remarks at the Third Roundtable Conference on Jammu and Kashmir convened in New Delhi on April 24, 2007:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have now come to the end of what has certainly been, in my opinion, a long, lively, interesting and fruitful Roundtable. I must thank all those present here for having patiently gone through the reports of four Working Groups and given their views on taking this process forward. The purpose of this Roundtable process is to tap into a wide range of opinion and views that exist across the political spectrum and I believe that purpose is certainly being achieved.

Given the wide range of themes covered by the Working Groups, it was not possible to discuss threadbare each and every recommendation. However, as I heard all of you over the day, I get the feeling that there is a broad consensus on the recommendations of the Working Groups. There may be differences in emphasis and in prioritizing recommendations. But I did not hear any voices dissenting with the broad tone and tenor of the Working Group reports. Therefore, I believe we can broadly endorse the reports of the Working Groups.

At the same time, what I did notice was a repeated emphasis on the need to keep moving forward. The Roundtable process has generated interest and hope both among the people of Jammu & Kashmir and among the people of the rest of the country. I agree that we need to keep this process moving forward if we have to retain and build on this sense of hope. The last two decades of militancy in Jammu & Kashmir have extracted a huge physical and emotional toll on the people of the state. They certainly have a right to hope for a better future, a future I had outlined in my opening remarks. All of us sitting in this room - and all those not in the room too - have an obligation to deliver tangible results which live up to their hopes and expectations. To do so, we need to do - and also be seen to be doing - two things. Firstly, we need to start work on processing and implementing the reports of the Working Groups. Secondly, we need to keep the Roundtable process moving forward by completing the work of the 5th Working Group and discussing issues thrown up by it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am in complete agreement with all those who expressed the view that implementation of the Working Group recommendations is the key to retaining the confidence of people. While we are committed to doing so, we need to establish a mechanism to ensure that implementation is monitored on a sustained basis. Could I therefore, suggest, that as a sequel to the constitution of the Working Groups at the Second Roundtable, and in the light of the recommendations made by four of the Working Groups – as well as the discussion thereon today, - we set up a Standing Committee of the Roundtable Conference. The Standing Committee would meet as and when necessary to take stock of the implementation of the recommendations of the Working Groups and give their inputs. If there is general agreement on this idea, I would request the Chief Minister to finalise the membership of the Standing Committee of the Roundtable Conference in consultation with you.

The processing and implementation of the recommendations requires the involvement of a large number of agencies of the government at different levels. Therefore, there is also a need to create an Oversight and Monitoring Mechanism which would coordinate the task of implementation, identify delays and resolve bottlenecks. I propose to constitute such a mechanism within the Government which will be tasked with ensuring speedy implementation of recommendations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The other aspect that has come out of this Roundtable is the need to keep moving this dialogue process forward and the criticality of the work of the 5th Working Group in this regard. The theme of this Working Group, which is on ‘Strengthening relations between the State and the Centre’ and also covers issues relating to effective devolution of powers among different regions, is one which has to take into account the aspirations all sections of people in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and come up with a common understanding on ways of meeting all these aspirations. The task is indeed difficult and challenging. But it is also critical to the success of this Roundtable process. As the work of the Group has only recently begun, I would not like to pre-empt or prejudge their deliberations. I would only ask the Group to engage in a purposeful exercise respecting the sensibilities and aspirations of the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There have been references to President Musharraf’s proposals and statements on Jammu & Kashmir during our discussions. Several ideas having a bearing on improving relations between India and Pakistan are being discussed at various levels. In carrying on these discussions we are giving careful consideration to your views expressed at these Roundtables and the meetings of the Working Groups. Some public statements in this regard emanating from Pakistan do not give the correct picture. I have said earlier that we are working sincerely towards resolving all pending issues with Pakistan and their resolution will be to the benefit of the entire region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A number of other issues have been raised. Some pertain to the problems of specific regions such as Ladakh. Some pertain to the problems of specific groups such as Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants. I am confident that if we move forward on the implementation of the reports of the Working Groups, many of these would get resolved.

One issue which has been raised and which I would like to return to is the issue of human rights. I would like to reiterate that our government is totally committed to upholding the dignity of the individual and the protection of basic human rights in Jammu & Kashmir, as anywhere else in the country. Very recently, we have again asked our Security Forces to ensure that their personnel carry out their difficult tasks in a humane manner. I do admit that there are problems. There is considerable inconvenience as well because of the prevailing security scenario. But we will continue to take steps to ensure that the deployment of Security Forces is directly related to the scale of the problems on the ground; that violation of human rights are minimized; and, that life proceeds more smoothly without undue harassment. This is the surest way of winning the hearts and minds of ordinary people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Roundtable process has moved substantially forward in delivering on the vision of a Jammu & Kashmir which I had outlined in my opening remarks. A vision of a Naya Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh which is symbolized by peace, prosperity and people’s power. I am sure that this dialogue process is the best way forward. Lasting peace will not come through instant deals. It will come only when the stakeholders – the people themselves – become the torchbearers of peace. This Roundtable is such a transparent process which ensures widest participation among all segments of opinion in the state. We are not trying to mechanically impose solutions from above. Rather, this process is throwing up possibilities which are representative in character. This is the strength of our democracy. This is the key to the success of India. We are working for the blueprint of a new future. A future pregnant with immense possibilities. I thank you all for joining in this process of drawing a new future for people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Thank you.

Source: Official Website of the Prime Minister of India






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