PREPARATIONS FOR PEACE TALKS IN KASHMIR CONTINUE DESPITE A WAVE OF VIOLENCE
(Web posted on August 4 for the week beginning SundayAugust 6)
What follows is the 14th Meditation Focus suggested by the Global Meditation Focus Group for the week beginning Sunday August 6.
Preparations for Peace Talks in Kashmir continue despite a wave of violence
2. Meditation Times
3. More information on the situation in Kashmir
The predominantly muslim state of Kashmir in India which has been the flash-point for two of the three India-Pakistan wars since 1947 now has a unique opportunity to break a cycle of violence, that has left an estimated 30,000 people dead, following the dramatic announcement of a unilateral cease-fire by the Hizbul Mujahideen, the main Pakistani-backed Kashmiri separatist group. According to some media sources, both nuclear-capable India and Pakistan have a vested interest in putting an end to the fighting but another rebel group in Kashmir has violently tried this past week to prevent peace talks from even beginning.
There is a golden chance now to begin the process that may end this simmering conflict which could degenerate at any time into a much larger war between those 2 rival countries that have been at odds since their partition along religious lines following India's independence from Britain in August 1947.
Please hold in your heart and mind a vision, as guided by Spirit during your meditation, of the cessation of all hostilities and of the healing of relationships between the religious communities in this part of the world. May peace prevail in Kashmir and between India and Pakistan, for the highest good of all.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes with a special Earth Healing Focus in the last few minutes.
ii) Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT: Honolulu 06:00 -- Los Angeles 09:00 -- Denver & San Salvador 10:00 -- Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 11:00 -- New York, Toronto, Montreal, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 -- Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 13:00 -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 16:00 -- London, Algiers & Lagos 17:00 -- Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Johannesburg & Madrid 18:00 -- Athens, Helsinki, Jerusalem, Nairobi & Istanbul 19:00 -- Moscow & Baghdad 20:00 -- Tehran 20:30 -- Islamabad 21:00 -- Calcutta & New Delhi 21:30 -- Dhaka 22:00 -- Rangoon 22:30 -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 23:00 -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur 00:00+ -- Seoul & Tokyo 01:00+ -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne 02:00+ -- Wellington 04:00+
(+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time)
3. More information on the situation in Kashmir
Please note that we provide more information below so as to enable you to have enough relevant details to better assess the nature of the situation selected for this Meditation Focus. But we would like to encourage you to not let these descriptions tinge the positive visions you want to hold so at to foster peace and healing. Since what we focus on grows, the more your thougthforms and vizualizations will be focussed on the visions of peace and healing which Spirit may inspire you to have during your moments of meditation, the more you will be of assistance towards manifesting such visions.
Since this is a very old and complex conflict, the following material has been selected to give those interested a more in-depth understanding of what is at stake.
Thursday August 3 - Truce Talks Lift Gloom in Troubled Kashmir
By Sheikh Mushtaq
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - The Indian government and a front-line Kashmiri rebel group agreed Thursday to set ground rules for a cease-fire, bringing a ray of hope for peace to the Himalayan territory. New Delhi's talks with Hizbul Mujahideen -- its first with a militant outfit since an insurgency began in 1989 -- came less than 48 hours after a series of guerrilla attacks across Jammu and Kashmir state that left at least 90 people dead.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who flew to Kashmir to commiserate with the families of those who died, urged all militant groups to join the most serious initiative to break a cycle of violence that has left an estimated 30,000 people dead.
``I invite all of them (militants) for talks. Arms will not help. We have extended our hand for talks and they should hold it,'' he said. But he made clear that talks with arch-rival Pakistan, whom he blamed for Tuesday night's bloodbath in Kashmir, were not possible. CLIP New Delhi has repeatedly refused offers of talks by Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, saying that it must first stop cross-border terrorism.
Tensions between the two nuclear-capable neighbors have been rising since last summer's confrontation when hundreds of armed men intruded into India's side of Kashmir, prompting a military offensive. CLIP New Delhi said it would stay the course of peace in Kashmir, but vowed to step up security across the region. The government said in a statement that a bipartisan committee would meet soon to set the pro-Pakistan group Hizbul Mujahideen's cease-fire declaration in stone.
Why Kashmir Killers Failed to Stop Peace Talks -- India opens negotiations with Pakistan-backed Kashmiri separatists, despite hard-liners' efforts to prevent peace moves
Although the two countries have fought two wars over Kashmir and went to the brink of a third last summer, both also have compelling reasons to settle the dispute. Pakistan's basket-case economy is in desperate need of Western assistance, and Washington has made clear that this is no longer a Cold War entitlement and aid now is dependent on easing tensions with India and reining in terrorism. For India, there's the simple fact that the insurgency in Kashmir is bleeding its defense budget, while a military solution remains as elusive as ever. And Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist government is better placed than any of its predecessors to open such a dialogue without being accused of treachery. Still, as Tuesday's slaughter demonstrates, the search for a solution in Kashmir may be a prolonged pilgrimage.
Hizb move: truce or retreat?
Things have been moving fast since the dramatic announcement of a unilateral cease-fire by the Hizbul Mujahideen. That it was not a 'trial balloon' has now been established beyond any doubt. Ironically, some observers have gone to the extent of suggesting that the controversial move was made by 'mutual arrangement'. The US has been accredited with brokering the deal, and both India and Pakistan are said to have given it a go ahead signal. CLIP
Q & A: Kashmir dispute By BBC News Online's Fergus Nicoll
Who's involved in the dispute over Kashmir?
The territory of Kashmir was hotly contested even before Indian and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August 1947. Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. The Maharaja, Hari Singh, wanted to stay independent, but eventually decided to accede to India, signing over key powers to the Indian government - in return for military aid and a promised referendum. Since then, the territory has been the flash-point for two of the three India-Pakistan wars: the first in 1947-8, the second in 1965. Since 1989, in addition to the rival claims of Delhi and Islamabad to the territory, there has been a growing and often violent separatist movement fighting for the independence of Kashmir.
What are the rival claims?
Islamabad says Kashmir should have become part of Pakistan in 1947, because Muslims are in the majority in the region (see below). Pakistan also argues that Kashmiris should be allowed to vote in a referendum on their future, following numerous UN resolutions on the issue. Delhi, however, doesn't want international debate on the issue, arguing that the Simla Agreement of 1972 provided for a resolution through bilateral talks. India points to the Instrument of Accession signed in October 1947 by the Maharaja, Hari Singh. Both India and Pakistan reject the so-called "third option" of Kashmiri independence.
What is the Line of Control?
A demarcation line was originally established in January 1949 as a ceasefire line, following the end of the first Kashmir war. In July 1972, after a second conflict, the Line of Control (LOC) was re-established under the terms of the Simla Agreement, with minor variations on the earlier boundary.
What's the geography?
The LOC passes through a mountainous region around 5,000 metres high. The conditions are so extreme that the bitter cold claims more lives than the sporadic military skirmishes. North of the LOC, the rival forces have been entrenched on the Siachen glacier (more than 6,000 metres high) since 1984; it's the highest battlefield on earth. The LOC divides Kashmir on a two-to-one basis: Indian-administered Kashmir to the east and south (population around nine million), which falls into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir; and Pakistani-administered Kashmir to the north and west (population around 3 million), which is labelled by Pakistan as "Azad" (Free) Kashmir.
What's the UN involvement?
The UN has maintained a presence in the disputed area since 1949. Currently, the LOC is monitored by the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). It is commanded by Major-General Jozsef Bali of Hungary. According to the UN, their mission is "to observe, to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of December 1971". As of 31 December 1998, nine UNMOGIP personnel have been killed in the conflict.
Is religion an issue?
Religion is an important aspect of the dispute. Partitition in 1947 gave India's Muslims a state of their own: Pakistan. So a common faith underpins Pakistans claims to Kashmir, where many areas are Muslim-dominated. The population of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is over 60% Muslim, making it the only state within India where Muslims are in the majority. There have been sporadic but recently increasing incidents of sectarian violence.
Who are the militants?
There are several groups pursuing the rival claims to Kashmir. Not all are armed, but since Muslim insurgency began in 1989, the number of armed separatists has grown from hundreds to thousands. The most prominent are the pro-Pakistani Hizbul Mujahideen, which declared a ceasefire last week. Islamabad denies providing them and others with logistical and material support. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was the largest pro-independence group, but its influence is thought to have waned. Other groups have joined under the umbrella of the Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, which campaigns peacefully for an end to India's presence in Kashmir.
What about human rights?
International human rights agencies have frequently expressed concern about Kashmir. In a recent report, Amnesty International said there was "a pattern of human rights abuses committed by Indian security forces in connivance with armed groups". In its World Report 1999, the Washington-based group Human Rights Watch describes the massacres of Hindu civilians by what it says are Pakistan-backed militant groups as "a deadly new development".
In Depth coverage of Kashmir Dispute at http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com/fc/World/Kashmir_Dispute/
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