Time to settle Kashmir
As India and Pakistan celebrate 70 years of Independence, they need to pause and reflect about the suffering of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
As India and Pakistan celebrate 70 years of Independence, they need to pause and reflect about the suffering of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The elites who participated in the Cabinet Mission talks of 1946 and those running affairs of the Pakistani and Indian states since 1947 are alone to be blamed for this suffering. Enough has been deliberated upon and discussed in all these years.
The specifics of the Cabinet Mission plan, the post-Partition armed insurgency, the then Kashmir ruler’s tilt towards the Indian side and the United Nation Security Council’s resolution No 47 are all out there. But the scale of the human tragedy in Kashmir is so large that we cannot afford the luxury of explicating the nuances of this history.
The four-point formula presented for resolution of the Kashmir dispute by General Musharraf’s regime can serve as a starting point. Importantly, the formula had sought an end to militarisation of the region and the sooner that end is achieved the better. By removing territorial claims from its focus the formula’s implementation could facilitate the Kashmiris’ exercise of their right to self-determination, even if not immediately.
By endorsing the formula, we’re neither lending support to Musharaf’s dictatorship nor insinuating that dictatorships are better placed than democracies to solve such crucial issus.
Quite the contrary, we believe firmly that political and civil society actors that support republican principles of democratic governance in India and Pakistan have stood for and will stand for peaceful resolution of all disputes between the two countries, including the Kashmir dispute whose ultimate fate has to rest with the Kashmiris themselves.
It is the solemn responsibility of these actors in the two countries to use the existing forums to advocate an immediate resolution of the issue.
Regardless, the governments of India and Pakistan need not waste any more time. A multi-party conference may immediately be called —comprising the governments of Pakistan and India and Kashmiri leadership from both sides of the Line of Control — to proceed towards the end of militarisation in the Valley. That Pakistan has tied the fate of Gilgit-Baltistan to the Kashmir dispute for seven decades now also needs to be addressed. There is a government in place in G-B, elected following the reform package introduced during the Pakistan People’s Party-led government. Those reforms were only the beginning of the process of introducing democratic rule to GB and the culmination of the process remains tied to provision of all fundamental rights and civil liberties enshrined in Pakistani constitution as well as relevant international treaties. Thus, inviting those in power in GB to such a multi-party conference won’t be enough. Voices in the opposition will also have to be consulted.
The task is straightforward. Kashmir has had enough of authoritarian control by Indian military and chauvinists on both sides of the 1947 divide have had a say for far too long. Kashmir needs normalcy and establishment of democratic institutions. With such channels available for the redress of internal political problems, those with militant designs will naturally get marginalised and stripped of public appeal.
Daily Times, August 16, 2017
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