Former US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, on Saturday favoured a referendum or plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of Kashmir, which she described as one of the "most dangerous and tragic places in the world."
Emphasising the need to institutionalise the current ceasefire between India and Pakistan and stop cross-border terrorism in the state, she said Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's peace initiative is very important and hoped that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will understand the importance of India's overtures.
In her concluding address at the two-day leadership initiative conference on 'Peace Dividend -- Progress for India
and South Asia', organised by Hindustan Times in New Delhi, Albright talked about the plight of the ordinary Kashmiri people who had been "buffered between terrorists on the one side and security forces, that had sometimes failed to observe basic human rights, [on the other]."
In reply to a question by National Conference president Omar Abdullah, Albright said she believed a referendum or plebiscite was the best way to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, she said that Vajpayee has taken "some very important steps in terms of understanding the reality of living side by side and I think this initiative is very important."