BreakingTheKashmir Impasse

Effective Autonomy Is The Key
By PRAFUL mOWAI
other Part B states, never gave up its and Ladakh and require a return 10 the own constitution and instead ncgotia- pre-1953 situation, to the bottom line. toying with the idea of holding assem- tcd its terms for incorporation into the First, there is the 1948-49 notion of a bly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Union - beyond the bland instrument plebiscite. India first agreed to this There are strong reasons why it of accession of October 26, 1947 but rejected it in 1953 following should not resort to such tokenism. covering defence, external affairs and Pakistan's decision to join the US cold war alliance system. This idea Heightened militant activity and alle- communications. ged excesses on the part of security Article 370 gives legal- now finds few supporters outside forces in three major incidents in constitutional expression to these Pakistan, which too is less than keen. three weeks have vitiated the atmos- terms. Above all, however, it is the It is fraught with the two-fold danger phere in the valley. The law and order popular desire for autonomy -- mani- that religion will cloud the issue and situation is itself a deterrent fcstcd in a thousand different ways that Kashmir's autonomy will get illcargument. and not just as a temporary response gitimately linked to an either-or, More compellingly, there is no to a passing mood or a conjuncture -- India-or-Pakistan, choice. credible political force in Kashmir that clinches the issue. If the vast Secondly, there is the Italotoday which is willing to lend legiti- majority of Kashrniris want greater Yugoslav Trieste solution. This macy to the valley's present relation- autonomy, their will must prevail. involves, on the 1954 model of the" ship with the rest of the country after Rather than view it as a threat to free territory of Tricstc," the convcrthe cataclysmic developments of the Indian unity, we must see enhanced sion of the present line of control in past 30 months and the Azadi autonomy as part of a larger desirable, Kashmir into an international border movement. process of fcdcralisation and which is porous, the withdrawal of The plain truth is that New Delhi's decentralisation. both Indian and Pakistani forces from writ no longer runs in the valley And yet, not only have Indian Kashmir, and freedom for all Kashmidespite its overwhelming military policy- and opinion-makers failed to ris to travel and work back and forth. presence. The bulk of Kashmiris have recognise this; they have deluded This is desirable and is likely to been seriously alienated from India themselves that the use of adequate win Kashmiri and international after the brutal turning point of force to contain secessionist violence support. But it is conditional upon a January 1990. The policy of encoura- and a steady barragcof'(justificdjcruilevel of amity between India and gingthe pandits to leave the valley, cism of Pakistan will make the Pakistan which has hitherto proved widely attributed to Mr Jagmohan problem go away. Worse, they have elusive. It is also unclear if Pakistan and fundamentalist attacks upon for decades violated vital provisions will easily agree to an arrangement them embittered inter-community of the Constitution and made a that gravely undermines its own relations and led to painful migration. mockery of Article 370. raison d' etre. A Trieste solution can The BIP's £/aa Yatra only aggravaIn this short space, we can do no only be part ofagreat historic detente. ted matters. Ham-handed attempts more than recall that Article 370 only since to make deals with discredited allows the President to make an order politicians have further undermined extending to Kashmir central lcgisla- Greater Autonomy New Delhi's credibility. tion relating to matters under the instrument of accession after "consulThirdly, there arc suggestions for Painful Migration tation" with the state government. greater autonomy -- to the point of Everything else needs the "concur- loose federation within the Indian Pakistan has cynically exploited rence" of the latter, but it must itself Union, with the freedom to extend the the Kashmiris' alienation to prop up be ratified by the state's Constituent autonomous region to "Azad KashIslamic fun Iamerualist groups, such Assembly. Equally important, mir". These have the merit of permitas Hizbul Mujahideen, opposed to the Clause (3) empowers the President to ting unilateral action by 'India. They basically secular JKLF. New Delhi issue a "public notification' to also create an opportunity to launch a has not succeeded in using intra- mili- rescind or modify Article 370 but project of dccentralisation by starting tant rifts to national advantage. Its here the "recommendation" of the with an extreme but simple problem. failure to put autonomy on the agenda Constituent Assembly is a sine qua This will of course involve negotiahas convinced large numbers of Kash- non. ting with the JKLF and other secular miris that azadi is the only way out. autonomist forces and isolating the The impasse in Kashmir cannot be pro-Pakistani fundamentalists. The easily broken. The Indian state lacks This veto power gives the J & K p.ocess must start now. both the will and to some extent the Constituent Assembly a very special In the long run, the most dr.amatic ability- to break it in a direct, simple character under the Constitution of. opening is presented by the crisis over way. Indian policy-makers have been India. That assembly ceased to exist Article 370. The best way to resolve preoccupied with the likely in 1956. All subsequent central this is to implement the Article by consequences of a new deal for Kash- legislation has been extended to J & K returning to the pre-1953 situation mir but have given little thought to it-s year after year without constitutional and convening a Constituent Asscrnrationale and content. hly in Kashmir to decide which sanction. However, the time has come to This is a gigantic fraud upon the central legislation should be extended acknowledge the case for genuinely Constitution of India, which has been to the state. This must be accomparespecting the autonomy for Kashmir sustained by the prevalence of public nied by a package of economic and provided for in the Constitution. This apathy and astonishing legal illite- social measures of extraordinary arises from the unique social- cultural racy. All irresponsible talk of abroga- generosity and by an open, clean, tranidentity of the Kashmiri people, both ting Article 370 to undo this fraud can sparent, honest and humble approach Hindu and Muslim; the valley's very onl y further compound it. to Kashmiri concerns. The way Article 370 has been treaThere is no other democratic way special geography and economy; sixof retaining a secular, non- fundamencenturies long resistance L incorpora- ted points to a first- rate constitutional tion under Indian and Afghan rule, crisis. There is a crying need to talist Kashmir within India. Such an arrangement can eventually make including the Mughal empire; weak resolve the crisis and simultaneously integration into the colonial structure; move towards a new, radically way for a Trieste solution or another and the struggle for a special political humane, sui generis solution to the abiding arrangement. All that is in the identity in spite of accession to India. Kashmir problem. Three different future. A move on Article 370 and a Article 370 is nothing ifnot acodifi- proposals have been advanced. All of major initiative focussed on the JKLF cation of this. Kashmir, unlike the them separate the valley from Jammu must begin now.

RECENT developments issuggest that the government again

Veto Power

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