London, Apr 1: Victoria Schofield, a well-known British journalist and historian, on Friday said dialogue between India and Pakistan is the only alternative to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Schofield said the common people should be given dignity and power to put forward their views and a roundtable conference between officials of both India and Pakistan should be held.
“There is no alternative but dialogues with the Kashmir issue. We have seen what happened with weapons, we have seen what happened with wars. The Kashmiris of all complexions have to be allowed to sit down and be given the dignity to put forward their views with representatives from the government of India and from the government of Pakistan,” Schofield told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on Gilgit-Baltistan in London.
“Because we really need – and I have said this on number of occasions – we need to have a roundtable where everybody can put forward their view and what we will see is a disparate view; we will not necessarily see a united voice. But once you have got these disparate views, you’ve then got to work out a compromise because not everybody can have what they want,” she added.
The British journalist said that she was excited to see the prime ministers of both the nations sitting together and watching the semi-final match of the ongoing World Cup tourney, adding that both the countries share similar cultures and needed proper leadership to put aside their differences and live in harmony.
“I was delighted to see the two prime ministers sitting there together. I think that it is terribly important because I believe that Pakistan and India they, the peoples of the same soil cannot exchange your neighbours. They always will be neighbours. So, it’s absolutely imperative for them to get along,” said Schofield.
“I have spent a lifetime in journalism working towards this in terms of what I write, and I really think that Pakistanis and Indians have far more in common than they have differences, and at some point one needs a leadership which will put that into practice, and I really believe that the Indians and Pakistanis will rejoice. They don’t want to be at war with each other,” she added.
Speaking on the grievances of the people living in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, Schofield said that the common people felt cheated on seeing the development in other regions of Pakistan.
“This is the problem with any region, which hasn’t had the sort of development and you have got the same thing in the Kashmir valley. There isn’t the infrastructure and you get a level of education, which isn’t sufficient to get the sort of jobs. So, the young get disaffected,” said Schofield.
“I think with each generation that comes up, you have an issue of what are these young people going to do and this is one of the grievances of the people living in the Gilgit-Baltistan region that they don’t have the facilities which other regions in Pakistan have,” she added.
Meanwhile, Robert Bradnock, a visiting Senior Research Fellow at Kings College, London, said Pakistan was struggling hard to survive because of the bomb blasts and killing of civilians.
“Much of Pakistan is struggling for survival in the face of different kinds of onslaught and in response to that, human rights have undoubtedly been really seriously impaired. People have lost their lives, people have been imprisoned and tortured, and that’s also been true, as we know in Gilgit-Baltistan,” said Bradnock.
“So there are problems on both sides. They are somewhat different in quality; they are very different in scale and the Valley has undoubtedly been much more significantly affected over a long period. But the ultimate root still has to be addressed by both India and Pakistan,” he added.