A Key To Kashmir Solution
By Syed Ali Safvi
24 February, 2007
solution of Kashmir imbroglio is accessible provided all parties are
committed to resolve the dispute. Both New Delhi and Islamabad have
been doing a lot in this regard but their efforts have not yielded concrete
results. The last few years have witnessed a tremendous improvement
in the relationship between the two nations. However, when Kashmir,
which is a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, comes for
discussion the atmosphere of hope turns into despair and both the countries
are unable to come to a joint agreement. Both the nations must know
that the good relations will last long only when the made-complex issue
of Kashmir is resolved, otherwise such Confidence Building Measures
(CBMs) will turn out to be fruitless only.
India and Pakistan are so
allergic to each other that they are not going to accept any solution
proposed by either of the two. The reason is that the leaders of the
two countries don't trust each other and the history too does not augur
well for them. Musharraf's proposals of 'demilitarization' and 'self-rule'
was turned down by India without considering them worthy of giving a
serious thought. In such a hostile and hopeless situation, the solution
of Kashmir crises looks very much elusive. It is very pathetic on part
of the Indian leaders not to come up with any proposal. If they don't
like the proposal put forth by Musharraf why they don't then come up
with their own proposal? This clearly shows how "serious"
and "committed" they are to resolve the impending dispute
over Kashmir. You cannot castigate others and yourself remain silent
at the same time. Either you have to accept the proposals or come up
The history bears testimony to the fact that India and Pakistan can't
reach any solution and the measures they take are only to make an impression
in the international stage that Kashmir is being 'seriously' discussed.
In fact, both the countries are merely killing time and the status quo
will mean that Kashmir crises will continue unabated.
Pragmatically, there seems
to be only one way out to put an end to nearly 60 years of mayhem in
Kashmir: free and impartial plebiscite under the aegis of the United
Nation as per the UN Resolution, with the inclusion of a third option,
Independence, just to update the 'old' Resolution. Let the people of
Kashmir decide about their future. The UN Resolution can peacefully
and permanently solve the Kashmir dispute. After all, it was responsible
to permanently solve the dispute in South Africa and Angola. Ironically,
one of the largest democracies in the world, India, has refrained from
granting the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir, which
happens to be their democratic right.
The referendum should be
held in two different phases:
Phase one: Independence or
Phase two: Union with India
(The second phase will come
in effect only when the majority of the Kashmir population vote against
Independence in the first phase).
Here are various measures
which need to be taken to ensure free and impartial plebiscite:
i) Complete cease-fire: The
two countries should announce the complete cease-fire along the Line
of Control (LOC) to ensure that there is no untoward incident. The government
of Pakistan should take militants into confidence. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
once said in an interview that Hurriyat can convince militants on cease-fire
and if Hurriyat can do that then I believe Pakistan government should
not find it an impossible task.
ii) Demilitarization: After
the cease-fire is ensured, India should call back its troops from Indian
Administered Kashmir (IAK) and, simultaneously, Pakistan, too, should
follow the suit by calling back its troops from Pakistan Adminis-tered
iii) Post Demilitarization:
After the demilitarization, the UN security forces should occupy both
sides of the divided Kashmir. The UN can ask for reinforcement from
any member country (of course, except from India and Pakistan) to maintain
law and order in the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir and pave the way
for an impartial and peaceful plebiscite. The observers of the United
Nation should remain in Kashmir and should keep a close vigil on the
scheme of things, and when the situation becomes conducive, the observers
should go for referendum. Since, people of Kashmir do not want the solution
of Kashmir on ethnic or religious basis, therefore, the Pandits who
left Kashmir in one of the most unfortunate incident in the history
of Kashmir (which of course was a handy work of the then Governor of
J&K, Jagmohan), should be called back as an integral part of Kashmir's
culture and identity, they too would decide the future of Kashmir along
with their Muslim brethren.
The referendum, as already
stated, should be held in two phases:
First Phase: - In the first
phase people of Kashmir would vote between independence or Union. The
referendum would be held under the aegis of the United Nations and one
representative each from India and Pakistan would monitor the democratic
exercise. If the people of Kashmir vote for the Union, then second phase
of voting becomes inevitable.
Second Phase: - In the second
phase of voting, people of Kashmir would choose between Union with India
and Union with Pakistan. Their 'will' must only decide with which country
they want to associate their future.
However, both the countries
should respect the consequences of the electoral verdict without being
egoistical. If Kashmir decides to accede to Pakistan then Jammu and
Ladakh will, by default, go to India and in case the Kashmiris favour
India, even in that case Jammu and Ladakh will remain a part of India
because there is apparently no dispute over Jammu or Ladakh between
India and Pakistan.
Therefore, there is no denying
the fact that unlike the common belief, Kashmir can survive as an independent
entity. If the people of Kashmir decide to be Independent, both India
and Pakistan have to guarantee its Independence. For a start, Kashmir
would not have its own currency but the currency of both India and Pakistan
would be accepted as legal tender money. Kashmir, as an independent
state, would have a free trade with both India and Pakistan and both
the countries would invest in its economy. It is an admitted fact that
only fruit and tourism industry, if properly managed, are enough to
keep the economy of Kashmir afloat.
However, the onus is on the
United Nation to finally show its existence and play the role to resolve
the Kashmir dispute. In the world of globalization no country would
like to be engaged in war or constant dispute. Similar is the case with
India and Pakistan.
Now, this is the high time
for both New Delhi and Islamabad to show flexibility and see the Kashmir
imbroglio from a pure humanistic point of view instead of perceiving
it from the nationalism angle. As things are going nobody can rule out
the possibility of yet another full fledged war between the two estranged
neighbors of Asia. Since, both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers
and if the war breaks out then the whole South Asia will face a disaster.
Let the recent warmth at Havana last so that the situation takes a healthy
turn. Hope we see a better tomorrow.
(The author can be reached