25 March 2006

From India now, 'out of the box' ideas on Kashmir

Manmohan Singh speaks of two internal and two bilateral tracks for peace.

He says the governments of India and Pakistan should each conduct an "internal dialogue"with the people in areas of Jammu and Kashmir under their respective control. And in addition to the official India-Pakistan dialogue on resoloving the Kashmir issue, the two parts of the state should be encouraged to develop cross-LoC institutions to further the economic and social development of the region.

25 March 2006
The Hindu


From India now, 'out of the box' ideas on Kashmir

Siddharth Varadarajan

IN A major departure from the studied official refusal to engage with any of Pakistan's "out of the box" proposals on Kashmir, India on Friday signalled a new readiness to embrace fresh ideas in the search for "pragmatic, practical solutions" to the problems of the disputed region.

The ideas were contained in a speech delivered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Amritsar during the flagging-off ceremony of the new bus service to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. Taken together with his call for the speedy resolution of the Siachen, Sir Creek, and Baglihar issues, the Prime Minister's suggestions on Kashmir and his formally stated desire for a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Security with Pakistan have cleared the way for the peace process to be raised to a higher level.

On Kashmir, the Prime Minister outlined a road map for peace that would have four distinct components. Two of these would be internal to those areas of Jammu and Kashmir that are in the "control" of India and Pakistan, and two would be bilateral. The latter would involve the India-Pakistan official dialogue as well as a process of encouraging the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir to work out "cooperative, consultative mechanisms" between themselves to solve problems of economic and social development in the region.

By stressing the necessity of internal dialogues in both India and Pakistan -- aimed at establishing "good governance" rather than "self-governance" as propopunded by President Musharraf -- Dr. Singh has achieved two objectives.

The first is to emphasise that insofar as there is a problem to be resolved, this concerns the entire territory of the erstwhile princely State of Jammu and Kashmir and not just those areas in India's control or within the boundaries of "Azad Jammu and Kashmir." This means the so-called Northern Areas in Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir would also have to be a part of the peace process. The second objective is to find a way of squaring the circle defined by India's unwillingness to include "representatives" of the people of the State in the formal India-Pakistan dialogue on Kashmir. By linking internal dialogue to the eventual resolution of the problem, however, the Prime Minister is acknowledging the centrality of popular grievances to the emerging equation.

Where the Prime Minister has broken exciting new ground is in his suggestion that the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir should be encouraged to develop cross-border institutional mechanisms.

These mechanisms provide the only practical way of making borders irrelevant while keeping intact the de jure sovereignty of both India and Pakistan over territories they control. Such an approach would appear to meet the `Agra test' mentioned by President Pervez Musharraf during the ill-fated India-Pakistan summit in 1999. During his famous breakfast interaction with Indian editors, he had argued that the two Governments needed to "negate" solutions to the Kashmir issue that were unacceptable to the other and focus on what would remain on the table once maximalist positions were abandoned.

Soon after he became Prime Minister in 2004, Dr. Singh said that short of redrawing borders or partitioning territory on a religious basis he was willing to look at any solution to the Kashmir issue. President Musharraf, while acknowledging that borders could not be redrawn, has also stressed that the Line of Control cannot be made into a juridical border either. During his visit to New Delhi in April 2005, he suggested that the only possible solution was to make the LoC irrelevant.

In the aftermath of the historic joint statement during that visit, where many of these ideas were hinted at or incorporated, India appeared reluctant to follow through with proposals that could give a precise shape to the notion of making borders irrelevant. The Indian bureaucracy was distrustful of the idea and was more interested in holding the question of Kashmir in abeyance until the two sides had built up a sufficient fund of trust between themselves. But with Prime Minister Singh now indicating a certain desire to break away from the conservatism of the Indian security establishment, a path has been opened for India and Pakistan to enter into a meaningful and practical dialogue on Kashmir rather than the reiteration of settled positions we have seen so far.


Anonymous said...

The problem of Kashmir is full of danger for India. India needs to develop a careful response to this old problem. India has been too soft and must develop backbone to solve this problem regardless of what Pakistan thinks or does, otherewise we will find India loosing the territory of whole Kashmir to Pakistan. Here is why:
(1) India has tacitly accepted Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on its territory for nearly two decdes without a strong, proactive method to stop it. India has, therefore, given a free license to Pakistan do do what they like on Indian territory. There should be zero tolerance to terrorism from Pakistan and strong countermeasures to put an end to it. (Much like Israeli response to Palestanian terrorism)
(2) President of Pakistan has become ever more popular in the West despite being a military ruler. He has (by his charm or salesmanship) popularlized and internationalized the problem of Kashmir. Some people in the West view Kashmiris as victims and Indians as an agressors. Indians must change this view internationally. Our leaders must point to the damage Kashmir insurgency/terrorism is causing to the economic development of India.
(3) India handles its "traitors" (Indian citizens of Kashmir who are loyal to Pakistan)in Indian part of Kashmir lightly. There is a segment of Kashmiri muslims who belong in Indian jails rather than outside as they are fanning hatred towards India and Indian Army and have become "clients" of Pakistan. Why would our leaders take "soft" approach to these "traitors". They are taking advantage of Indian tolerance towards their fifth column activities in favor of Pakistan. India needs to deal harshly with these so-called Kashmiri "leaders"
(4) India needs to declare LOC as the final border and declare a program of massive investment, flow of capital and flow of business people from the rest of the country to Kashmir much like what China has done in Tibet. Kashmir cannot remain as it is, with its native population made hostile towards India day by day by radicals who are "agents" of Pakistan. India must treat our part of Kashmir as open for business and development and must integrate it with the rest of the country as soon as possible. We are using "hard" power (military), but we must use "soft" power (our people, investmnet, business, development, etc.) in Kashmir.

Anonymous said...

to the person who wrote this obnoxious comment to a good article above. You are an Idiot!

Anonymous said...

The metality of the sardarji Who ran away from his Kingdom of Kashmir because he could not deal with Muslims, This Hindian Government is also pretty much in Limbo, They dont know how to deal with Muslims, Untill you have puppets in New delhi , Hindians cant have Kashmir, It will one day secede to Pakistan for sure

Anonymous said...

To post above,

Look at Islamic countries around the world, and you will soon realize that muslims governing muslims does not promise prosperity.

Further partition of India, based on religous grounds cannot happen. Indians will not only lose land but the very essance of what India stands for.


Anonymous said...

This can be resolved by settling landless people from all over India in Kashmirs Government owned lands. This should be done with a clear objective to alter demographic ratio and to out number muslims in Kashmir. This along with economic integration is the only solution. All others a cosmetic band aids. China has been doing this with great success in Tibet, Xianjing etc, . Solution needs bold action.