Put Kashmiris first, says Crisis Group
Any dialogue between India and Pakistan aimed at a solution to the decades-old Kashmir problem will fail if the two rivals do not first include people living on both sides of Line of Control (LoC) that divides the region, the International Crisis Group says.
New Delhi and Islamabad appeared willing to allow more interaction across the LoC but failed to engage Kashmiris in the process, the Crisis Group said in a report titled, “Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris First.”
The latest briefing from the Crisis Group identifies the key political, social and economic needs of Kashmiris that should be addressed on both sides of the divided state.
Here is the complete report.
Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director says the atmosphere of hostility is undermining the progress that had been made in softening the border that also divides the Kashmiri families.
Relations between the south Asian neighbours went into a freeze the Mumbai attacks killed 166 people.
“Since the Mumbai attacks by Pakistan-based militants in November 2008, tensions between the two neighbours have eclipsed Kashmiri hopes for political liberalisation and economic opportunity,” Samina adds.
The Brussels-based organisation pressed Islamabad to rein in militants that are fighting Indian forces in Kashmir.
“It (Pakistan) must ensure that jihadis, still backed by the military, can no longer disrupt the regional peace. Another Mumbai-like attack would have a devastating impact on bilateral relations and could conceivably bring the nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war.”
It also urged New Delhi to reduce its massive troop presence in its part of Kashmir and replace army-led counter-insurgency with accountable policing and revive the region’s economy, devastated by over two decades of violence, to instil greater confidence among alienated Kashmiris.
The report said New Delhi should revive Kashmir’s “special status” guaranteed by the Indian constitution and repeal all “draconian laws.”
“… laws that encourage human rights abuses by security
forces remain, fuelling public resentment that the militants could once again exploit.”
Indian security forces in Kashmir have been accused of grave human rights violations and also murdering innocent civilians in staged gun battles and passing them off as separatist militants to earn rewards and promotions.
Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director says it is unrealistic to expect a solution to the Kashmir dispute in the near future.
“Both India and Pakistan should focus on creating a favourable environment for cooperation,” Templer adds.
The two countries, according to reports, held secret talks for more than three years, reached an accord on thorny dispute of Kashmir and had almost unveiled it in 2007 before domestic turmoil in Pakistan derailed it.
The Times of India said that there’s plenty of reason for optimism here, as the evidence suggests that earlier talks between India and Pakistan had been on the right track.
But there is six decades of distrust and other festering disputes between the two countries who have fought two of three wars over Kashmir.
“A template is already available for resolving Kashmir should New Delhi and Islamabad pick up from where they left off earlier. That’s what they urgently need to do, putting the baggage of history behind them,” says The Times of India editorial “Solution For Kashmir.”
Can the two countries pick it up from where they left off?