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By M B Naqvi 12 November, 2004 Deccan Herald
President Pervez Musharraf's October 21 plea to the Pakistanis to think out of the box has
largely succeeded; the issue is being discussed everywhere and by all who care about these things. On Kashmir, there used to be just one line that emanated from the government; 57 years of intense propaganda at home and abroad has made it almost a reflex reaction of most Pakistanis: a UN supervised plebiscite which would give only two options to theKashmiris, to join India or Pakistan. Now that is a thing of the past. Ever since October 21, discussing the various possible solutions to the Kashmir problem, other than the UN resolutions, is now occupying attention. It can be said that it was Musharraf who killed Pakistan's traditional stance on Kashmir, with no likelihood of its revival. That option is now politically dead. It is necessary to see if any other option can be acceptable to India - and as a long shot to the Kashmiris. There is however a hole in the heart in this proposition. It is about India's readiness to accept any change in the status of Kashmir at all. Until recently it was only Pakistan that rejected anything less than a radical change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir State. India has what it wanted or most of it. What incentive is there for it to change? The various Indian governments and party leaders have made it plain over the years that come what mayKashmir's accession to India is sacrosanct and will not be allowed to be tampered with. Other ideas to a Kashmir solution, if they involve substantial change in constitutional and realpolitik status of Kashmir, can have a chance if there is a cogent reason why Indian authorities will countenance it. There is no evidence that authorities in Pakistan have applied their mind to this part of the problem. Flexibility and give and take have been mentioned. But what will be in it for India to compromise its sovereignty and total control over Kashmir? Indians cannot be asked merely to give and not take anything. The question persists.
Musharraf has merely recommended the discussion of various possible options or approaches to a solution. By a process of elimination most analysts have come to the conclusion that he was suggesting a division of Kashmir along broad outlines by calling for dividing the State into seven regions on the basis of geography. Musharraf merely has sugarcoated a pill that is unappealing to India. He has left ample space for other possible solutions. In this connection he has mentioned condominium and joint control. A solution being actually hawked by the Americans and which seems to have been adopted by many Indian publicists: it is to de-militarise the two Kashmirs, both Indian-controlled and Pakistancontrolled Kashmir. The joint control or the condominium comes into play in this scenario. But this begs the same question: why would India change and accept any condominium or joint control scheme to whatever shape or degree being suggested. After all India has never countenanced such a proposition.
Something has to be done about this hole in the heart. The onus for it is mostly on Musharraf and other proponents of the idea. Don't forget the Indians are quite prepared to live with the status quo with all its inconveniences. To make it shift, some goodies have to be offered. Hitherto relations between the two countries have been largely hostile, with much ill will. The constant cold war between them has left a residue that has reduced the normal power and influence of both countries. India is certainly a potential great power. While Pakistan does not equal it, it is not entirely without some importance and influence, particularly in the so-called Islamic world. If this relationship can be recast into one of friendly cooperation, it will unlock many doors. There is also something unique about the India and Pakistan relationship. The two cannot be wholly indifferent and distinct from each other; they can be close friends and also enemies. There is something of exceptional value that Pakistan and India can achieve, apart from the creation of more wealth, which alone will be no mean achievement. The thousand and one commonalities between them, if given free play, can create a lot of satisfaction all around.
Think of the situation when Indian and Pakistani diplomacy would cooperate. In the third world counsels, a proposition would become acceptable to all the third world, if the two cooperate. Let us say with Pakistan facilitating India's entry into OIC (for whatever it is worth) or supporting India's claim to a permanent UN Security Council seat, the state of international opinion would be radically different. But most of all, the immense benefit would accrue to both in the field of arts and culture, not to mention scientific and technological cooperation. Above all else, SAARC can be revived, well and truly, into something that not merely works but achieves exemplary results. After all, South Asia has a wonderful resource base. That alone is a price that should tempt India. Anyhow other than this, there can be nothing more tempting from Pakistan's side than political, economic and cultural partnership. And again as a long shot, Kashmiris can be won over by both Pakistan and India jointly and life can be easier all around.
A Blueprint For Kashmir
By Kuldip Nayar 10 November, 2004 The Tribune
Whether we like it or not, President General Pervez Musharraf has been able to retrieve the
Kashmir problem from the backburner. Our satisfaction is that the military establishment he heads has realised that no solution is possible through hostilities. This is a substantial gain because from the days of the Tashkent Agreement in 1966 New Delhi's endeavour has been to convince Islamabad to renounce the use of arms to end all disputes between the two countries. Now when the talks look like throwing up a solution, we should not be seen flinching. The international community is watching the progress on Kashmir anxiously. We should not be found wanting. Moreover, this is an opportunity the two countries cannot afford to miss. General Musharraf has set the ball rolling. He first told two Indian journalists that the solution of Kashmir lay in identifying the area, demilitarising it and giving it a status. Subsequently, he gave shape to his proposal by specifying seven areas: the plains, including Jammu, the foothills up to
7,000 feet, Pir Panjal, the valley, the Great Himalayan zone, the upper Indus valley and the Northern Areas, the Karakoram, parts of which are with China. For the first time, a Pakistan ruler has proposed independence for Kashmir, besides joint control or UN mandate. General Musharraf must have done the rethinking after talking to the Indian journalists, including myself. At that time, when he said that the Kashmiris wanted independence, he meant that they would "step back" once concrete proposals were on the table. This might still happen. But independence is an option as of now. New Delhi has not yet reacted to General Musharraf's proposals in any significant manner. In the past, there have been remarks like "the sky is the limit." Still India has been fiercely supporting and sustaining the status quo - the four corners of our policy on Kashmir. The Home Ministry has a department on Kashmir which does not believe in having any input from outside. Politicians in power and bureaucrats in the department work out a strategy, not policy, as and when the situation demands. A few former bureaucrats are thrown in as interlocutors every now and then to know the minds of the leaders in the valley. The department often gets it wrong. What General Musharraf has proposed is a re-division of Jammu and Kashmir. This is something to which none in the government - the Opposition or even the experts - has applied his mind, at least not methodically or seriously. Even if they had, I do not think any government in New Delhi can sell to the country a proposal which suggests a division on the basis of religion and throws out the status quo completely. True, a sterile policy is worth jettisoning, but when the price demanded is a seven-tier state, the suspicion heightens. I believe that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed to discuss certain options when he met General Musharraf in New York, putting two riders: one, no territorial adjustment, and two, no division on the basis of religion. General Musharraf's proposals eschew the word "religion", but the geographical changes he suggests are primarily on that basis. An unsteady secular polity like ours cannot accept this. Any division or even a hint of it may revive the horrors of Partition. The defeated BJP is only looking for a semblance of a chance to revive Hindutva which, at present, does not arouse any response. Still General Musharraf's seven-region proposal should not be rejected outright. It can be made the basis for riveting a setup which may ultimately overcome the objections voiced by India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris. Why not merge the seven regions into two units so that they are viable and, at the same time, can pass the muster to be acceptable to the majority? I have a proposal. Having been associated with leaders and people in the state for more than four decades, I consider myself competent as well as involved enough to suggest a wayout. Once youthful Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik advised me not to make any proposal on Kashmir so that I might one day help the process of negotiations. My profession of writing demanded me to react to the situation prevailing at a particular time. If that rules me out, I cannot help. The crux of the problem is the valley. The Indian Parliament has also asked the government to take up "the other Kashmir under Pakistan's occupation." So there are two units: Kashmir and "Azad Kashmir". They have established their identity in the last 55 years - the first is Kashmirispeaking and the second Punjabi-speaking. My suggestion is that both Kashmirs should be given autonomy. The governments in these two regions should enjoy all subjects except defence, foreign affairs and communications. The three subjects were the ones which the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir gave to New Delhi when he signed the Instrument of Accession to integrate his state with India. "Azad Kashmir" is directly
under Islamabad and enjoys only the crumbs of power thrown at it. My proposal gives it full autonomy like the one in Kashmir on the Indian side. The border between the two Kashmirs should be made soft so that the citizens of the two sides travel freely, without any passport or papers, in both parts. (I hope terrorism will be over by that time). The status for these areas is that of an autonomous unit. The three subjects - foreign affairs, defence and communications - will vest in the government in New Delhi as far as Kashmir is concerned and Islamabad regarding "Azad Kashmir." Both Kashmirs should be demilitarised, India withdrawing its forces from the valley and stationing them at the valley's border. Pakistan will do a similar thing regarding "Azad Kashmir". The UN and major powers should be individually or collectively involved to guarantee the demilitarisation of the areas if and when a final settlement is reached. The settlement should be final. There will be no reopening. Both countries should withdraw their complaint from the UN and other international bodies. All the 72 confidence-building measures India has increased the number from eight to 72 - should be implemented straightaway so that people-to-people contact increases and trade gets going. I know General Musharraf is allergic to the line of control (LoC). But there has to be some line drawn to demarcate the border. The LoC can be straightened as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had suggested to the then Pakistan Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, at Shimla. Islamabad knows it well that the international community is in favour of the LoC becoming a permanent border, with minimum changes. Since the communications is one of the subjects entrusted to the Central government on either side, the autonomous areas will not feel that they are landlocked. Facilities available in both India and Pakistan will be at the disposal of the two Kashmirs. With soft borders, they can trade between themselves, have a common currency if they so desire and receive tourists freely from all over the world. Both Kashmirs can transfer more subjects to Central governments, "Azad Kashmir" to Islamabad and the valley to New Delhi. It is up to their state assemblies to do so once the settlement is signed, sealed and delivered and fresh elections held.
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