Kashmir: The Way Forward

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“UN resolutions on Kashmir conflict are advisory recommendation not compulsory”. Even in 2003 Pervaiz Mushraf, the then Pakistan state head stated “that we should give up the UN resolutions and must do something out of box’. Thus the provisions laid in UN Security Council resolution and such statements make it clear that plebiscite option is irrelevant at this time.

 

Source: Google

Mir Iqbal Ahmad

Kashmir region is one of the oldest disputes between the two world powers India and Pakistan, which began with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. Later, China also became party to it, after annexing north eastern parts of the state during 1965 war. Being recognized as ‘Kashmir dispute’ world over, the issue however spans over much larger context and region. The roots of the dispute are not just adhered in the Valley of Kashmir but are spread widely in PoK, Gilgit Baltistan under Pakistan occupation and China occupied Kashmir.

At the time of partition, Jammu and Kashmir was British Princely state with majority of Muslim population headed by Hindu Mahraja. He had the options available to choose India, Pakistan or to remain independent but the circumstances led to the accession with India which is often argued as invalid and dubious by some people in Kashmir and Pakistan. The attack from tribals forced India to approach UN Security Council which passed the resolution for plebiscite with some conditions. This curtailed the available option of independence which we had at the time of partition and confined us within the lap of India and Pakistan, giving both countries legal base in Kashmir where as people from state were condensed from seeking independence.

The dispute has deepened over the years where in each party including the leadership of J&K has tried to fish in turbulent and troubled waters of Kashmir.  The selfish and imprecise approach from all stake holders destroyed the economic, social and cultural fabric of the valley. Since 1990 almost every part in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir showed development in different spheres except the valley.  People of the Valley have lived most of the time under clutches of turmoil, not to talk of peaceful environs and paths of development.

So where lies the solution?  Since it is an age old dispute, finding way out cannot be done over night. First and foremost, we need to have a realistic approach from all the shareholders of India, Pakistan and the leadership from the Jammu and Kashmir- both mainstream and separatist. Every party should acknowledge the role of the other. Meanwhile it has to be believed and accepted that the parts (IOK and POK) of erstwhile J&K shall continue to remain parts of their respective countries.

So far if plebiscite shall be agreed upon, it must take place in all the territories which constitute erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir of pre -1947. A brief look at its provisions would make it easier to understand.  Under the UN Security Council resolution 47 dated on 21 April 1948 there are three provisions to be followed in order to conduct plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir which are as under:

Pakistan asked to withdraw all its nationals and army from the territory it occupies of the Jammu and Kashmir.

India was asked to progressively reduce its forces to the minimum level required for law and order.

In third India was asked to appoint a plebiscites administrator nominated by UN who could conduct a free and impartial plebiscites.

Besides these provisions, we should also look into the incidents which took place since this resolution was adopted.  In 1972 under Shimla agreement both parties India and Pakistan agreed” that we would sort out all the differences in bilateral negotiations” In 2001 Kofi Anan the then Secretary General of UN on the tour of India and Pakistan stated that “UN resolutions on Kashmir conflict are advisory recommendation not compulsory”. Even in 2003 Pervaiz Mushraf, the then Pakistan state head stated “that we should give up the UN resolutions and must do something out of box’. Thus the provisions laid in UN Security Council resolution and such statements make it clear that plebiscite option is irrelevant at this time.

India itself agrees that Jammu and Kashmir is a political issue and it should be resolved politically. Before taking any concrete step towards the final resolution of Kashmir, India should wholeheartedly attempt to win the hearts of the people. There havee been many initiatives taken before by previous governments but none of them fetched any fruitful results. One of the reasons behind their failure was the fractured mandate. This is the golden opportunity for this government to take Kashmir dispute to its logical end. This government has got the strong mandate. It is for the first time in the history of India that opposition parties are bundled together in one voice to favour resolution of Kashmir dispute.

Such goals can only be accomplished once peaceful atmosphere prevails in the valley. Talks during simmering tension and violence never materialise into favours. Since Kashmiris have been betrayed many times, they cannot trust this time easily as there is a trust deficit. If anyone can bring peace in the valley it is undoubtedly the government in New Delhi. Nevertheless, it needs to shun muscular policy of Kashmir adopted by the government.

As a first step, government must constitute a commission of inquiry headed by High court Judge on last year killings by the security forces. The commission should not be an eye wash but it must be allowed to work independently and it should work in a time bond manner. Besides, AFSPA must be seriously looked into and lifted, at least partially. It should be revoked from such places recording zero violence in past few years. Apart from this India must acknowledge the role of separatists at the same time and take them into confidence. The consequences of not having any serious talks with separatists can be well gauged by the recent by poll parliamentary election turnout.

Having faced unrest and extreme challenges, there is a dire need to restore the glory of Kashmir in terms of peace, development and more importantly a concrete solution to the dispute itself. India has tried least to put valley back to its path. Force and suppression being used to normalize the situation is nothing but an illusion and a farfetched dream. The suppressive measures alienates people and gives them reasons to resist much harshly. Kalhana in his Rajtarangi has said centuries back “Kashmir can be conquered by the power of spirit not by sword”.

The author is a social and political activist and can be reached at miriqbal.iyc@gmail.com

The story first appeared in print edition of May 17 to 23-2017.

 

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