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OPINION

Is 'Out-of-Box' solution feasible for Kashmir?
J. N. RAINA

The saying goes: “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. Similarly, so many solutions are being offered for the resolution of the beleaguered state of Jammu and Kashmir, battered by 17 years of Pakistan-sponsored militancy, by a host of people, from Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf to Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir Umar Farooq, making the issue more confusing.

Latest to join the ‘fray’ is People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone, who has unveiled a “vision document” for the resolution of the ‘conflict’. The document, titled “Achievable Nationhood”, lays emphasis on the ‘sovereignty of people’ (of Jammu and Kashmir). The People’s Conference was floated by Sajjad’s father Abdul Ghani Lone, who was killed by militants a few years ago for his alleged critical remarks on Pakistani leadership.

The document envisages the creation of what he says five new ‘over-lapping structures, within two power-sharing structures.’ These are the relationship between Srinagar-New Delhi, Muzaffarabad (PoK) - Islamabad, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad, Srinagar-Islamabad and Muzaffarabad and New Delhi.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who returned from Europe after his ‘awareness campaign on Kashmir’, is fond of replicating the ‘Irish peace plan’ for Kashmir. But reportedly he has met with little success. It is surprising how New Delhi allowed him to go abroad where he sought foreign intervention on Kashmir. He has been frankly told by the former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (who now heads the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, a think-tank working for the reconciliation efforts around the world) and some others, rather rebuffed, that there can be no third-party intervention on Kashmir, since it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

Now Mirwaiz has gone to Pakistan to make Pakistanis understand about the Irish model for Kashmir. Back home in India, he is not willing to meet any dignitary below the rank of the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is dreaming a dream not only for Kashmir, but for the entire South Asian region. The Congress leadership seems to have agreed in ‘principle’ to an ‘out-of-’the-’box’ solution for Kashmir, without caring to know about the consequences.

Pakistan wants a locus standi in Kashmir. It is keen to disturb the present status. When Pakistan says it has no claim over Jammu and Kashmir, what is the need for ‘out-of-box’ parleys? Musharraf should understand we have a strong democracy and a vibrant Parliament. Nothing can move without the consent of this august institution.

Ahead of Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan, Manmohan Singh exhibited much optimism that relations with Pakistan will be smoothened. He feels sanguine that the two estranged neighbours will become ‘friendly’ in the very near future and they will be able to sign a treaty of ‘peace, security and friendship’. But India has to be cautious, keeping in view the treacherous nature of Pakistan.

Singh is dreaming for a day when ‘one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul’. These are noble ideas. Whether his dream plan will ever be realized, only the future can tell. Who does not want friendship with neighbours?

Pakistan’s reaction to the Treaty ideas was along predictable lines. Such a treaty is possible only if the Kashmir tangle is resolved, of course to its advantage. Manmohan Singh should know that Musharraf is a one-man band. After all, India is not omnium gatherum (a collection of miscellaneous people). Before being over-confident, for entering into such a treaty, he ought to consult his people and take them on board. India has to seek guarantees from Pakistan, whether it is willing to give up terrorism. There cannot be a radical departure from India’s state position. Kashmir valley is not a separate enclave.

Manmohan Singh has a right to dream, but it should not become a nightmare. Pakistan has to change its mindset. Various proposals have been put forth for conversion of the LoC into an international border. Prime Minister has already rejected talks about redrawing of borders. There are suggestions about legitimizing territories under the control of India and Pakistan, and granting autonomy on both sides of LoC and making the borders porous. Pakistan should be judged from its past behaviour. If the proposal about legitimizing Pakistan’s control over PoK is granted, it will nullify India’s stand that PoK is part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Any unrestricted movement across LoC will make India more vulnerable to terrorist activities directed from Pakistan. India need not climb down from its stated position while seeking a breakthrough in its relationship with Pakistan. What has Pakistan to offer as a quid pro quo? What is the guarantee Pakistan will not stop extending its moral and material support to Kashmiri terrorists? What is the guarantee militancy will come to an end even if steps are taken to have an amicable agreement with that country? Remember Pakistan has often claimed there are some ‘rogue elements’ inside Pakistan which are uncontrolled.



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