Kashmir-beginning the long road back into peace talks

May 16, 2010

fayazaward2Indian writer A.G. Noorani has just become the latest to weigh in on the parameters of a possible peace deal in Kashmir.  Writing in Dawn newspaper, he argues that  no solution will work unless it is supported by a domestic consensus within each of the three parties involved – India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

“First, no Indian government can accept de-accession of Kashmir and survive even for an hour. Secondly, no government in Pakistan can accept the Line of Control as an international boundary and survive, either. Thirdly, nor will the Kashmiris submit to the partition; and lastly they insist on self-rule,” he writes.

Noorani, like others before him, argues that the best option for consensus lies in a roadmap peace deal sketched out by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then president Pervez Musharraf. This was intended to cut through 60 years of deadlock on the Kashmir dispute by agreeing that there could be no exchange of territory between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, while at the same time making borders irrelevant by opening up the Line of Control (LoC) dividing the region. 

“…  since ‘borders cannot be redrawn’, we can, as Manmohan Singh said on March 24, 2006, ‘work towards making them irrelevant — towards making them just lines on a map’. In effect the state is reunited, de facto though not de jure,” he writes.

He adds this would be coupled with three other points — demilitarisation, self-governance and a joint mechanism for supervision of aspects of Kashmir shared between Pakistan and India.

The proposal has been discussed many times on this blog, most recently here.  It carries with it the advantage of requiring both countries to give ground - a prerequisite for successful negotiations. Pakistan would have to relinquish its insistence  that Kashmiris be allowed a plebiscite to decide their fate, in accordance with UN Resolutions passed in 1948; India would have to acknowledge Pakistan had rights to some oversight over a region which it has long insisted was a non-negotiable and integral part of the country.

That said, there is little evidence to suggest the Singh/Musharraf roadmap for peace was ever quite as far advanced as its supporters suggest. While most analysts agree the two leaders had decided on the broad outlines — no exchange of territory in return for making borders irrelevant — it is unclear how far they had gone in hammering out the details of such potential deal-breakers as the nature of the joint mechanism to supervise Kashmir.

Nor were people in any of the three main constituencies – India, Pakistan and Kashmir – brought on board in a deal which was agreed in secret back-channel talks between personal envoys of the two men.

After the long diplomatic limbo following the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, both India and Pakistan have to work out where they stand on the roadmap. The agreement has had time to gather thick layers of dust since the back-channel talks  stalled in 2007,  when Musharraf ran into political problems at home which were eventually to drive him from office. In public at least, Pakistan’s civilian government has signalled that sees no reason to honour a draft agreement negotiated by its former military ruler.

And with distrust running high between the two countries, perhaps the hardest challenge for the governments of the two countries will be to carry their different constituencies with them on the need to even try to find a compromise on Kashmir — and that is before anyone starts talking about the actual details of an agreement.

Meanwhile in the long gap between the last talks, a new cause of tension has risen between the two countries  – a row over water supplies from their shared Himalayan rivers – as melting glaciers and rising population threaten a long-predicted water war.  Reaching a compromise now on Kashmir is if anything even harder than it was in 2007. 

And in Kashmir itself, a generation of young people have grown up in the years since the separatist revolt began there in earnest in 1989. Caught between militants on one side and what many Kashmiris saw as an occupying army on the other, some of them have known nothing other than the years of violence. The region’s youth have been at the forefront of recent anti-India protests in Kashmir. Their elders might see the value of a compromise reached after so many years of deadlock. But can Kashmir’s youth be convinced to put their trust in an agreement reached in the arcane corridors of power between Delhi and Islamabad?

(Postscript:  For a break from politics, do read this Kashmiri verse, courtesy of Chapati Mystery)

(Photo: Kashmiri youth holds bricks to throw at police during a demonstration in Srinagar in June 2009/Fayaz Kabli)

Comments

Does any one take this seriously… think it is even …possible to make “borders irrelevant” with a territory under the control of Pakistan?…tamasha.

The original article by AG Noorani has this statement :”Syed Salahuddin endorsed it as a ‘first step’ on Feb 27, 2007″.

Syed Salahuddin of the United Jihad Council thinks this is the first step…you get some idea…of subsequent steps..

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive
 

Any decision on this disputed area must not be taken without the consent of the local people; only then a peaceful solution is solution.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive
 

Myra,

Noorani is right in saying that no settlement is possible without considering the wishes of Kashmiri people . What Noorani is possible due to oversight, failed to mention, which Kashmir is he talking about? Kashmir is divided in different regions, linguistic and religious groups. Jammu region is predominately inhabited by hindus, similarly Ladakh is inhabited by Budhist minority. There is also a part of Kashmir,which has been gifted to China by Pakistanis, what will be the fate of this Kashmir? In order for a lasting peace in J&K, this should be divided in several regions and then a referendum should be held. There is growing opinion in India that why should we spend so much money in a region which has nothing to contribute economically or otherwise to India .

Posted by manishindia | Report as abusive
 

Whether over one billion people in India and Pakistan will continue to be the hostage of Kashmir legacy? Is it the only issue remain between us for peace talks? What about the issues which reduces shortages of utilities or raise standard of living of the citizen of both nations. It is for us to choose whether Kashmir is more important or cross border trade, commercial joint ventures, exchange of commercial and technical knowhow in areas of agriculture, mining, health, transportation, education, energy etc.

As regards to Kashmir issue – Please enlighten that whether the aspirations of Kashmiris are represented by hooligans on streets or by terrorists? To my knowledge we are having elected representatives of Kashmiris on Both side of the line of control. If that be so, whose aspirations they represent? Please note that Pakistan term Pak held Kashmir (PHK) as ‘Azad Kashmir’. Hence, in its own terminology, it is an aggressor to the territory. This and probably for many more reasons, even in UN resolutions Pakistan’s withdrawal was pre-condition for any plebiscite in Kashmir. This dilemma of Pakistan in the past has resulted in its periodical raising and dropping of plebiscite issue by it.

Please read Mr. Noorani’s above referred article carefully to understand the dilemma:
“What is the status of the Kashmir dispute today? Since 1990 even the US ceased to talk of the UN resolutions. In February 1958 Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon (of Pakistan) met the US envoy to the UN, Henry Cabot Lodge, in Karachi. Ambassador James M. Langley recorded: “Noon made no mention of a plebiscite and it seemed to me that he was clearly thinking of a compromise which would provide for a territorial division between India and Pakistan.”
Noon was no traitor. A few months earlier on April 29, 1957, the UN mediator on Kashmir Gunnar Myrdal had, in his report, pronounced those resolutions as virtually obsolete: “The situation with which they were to cope has tended to change.” That was 50 years ago. On March 23, 1962 Ayub Khan was prepared to drop plebiscite if India offered an alternative. The Z.A. Bhutto–Swaran Singh talks (1962-3) centred on a partition line in Kashmir; not on plebiscite.”

It is in this context India negates Pakistan’s any claim to PHK and demands its territory back. Probably, this is the precise reason for India to say that unrest in Kashmir is an internal issue of India.

Myra, few vested interests take advantage of the lack of education and enlightenment of youth on such issues. In a free society like India, the need of the hour is to educate the youth and make them understand the history themselves. I am not a hawk, nor aware of the full facts, but still feel that somewhere in our dealings with our neighbours; we have compromised our territorial integrity as regards to PHK. Is there anybody who can enlighten/ clarify me better on this issue?
“Kashmir ke allava our bhee gam hain jamane main”

Posted by SKChadha | Report as abusive
 

Kashmiri’s have been led to believe that they need independence from India, that is a false notion.

What Kashmiri’s need independence and emancipation from the shackles and chains of the politics of religion and those that seek to use their gullibility into making them believe that religion is the end all and be all of a higher existence. This has proven to be false, as muslims in the rest of India are thriving, if they choose to make wise decisions and put the rocks, sticks and suicide bxmb belts away.

Everytime I see a Kashmir throw rocks, everytime, my opinion is lowered of them. God gave one a brain, you can improve your life either by using your mind, or throwing a rock. The mind is far more powerful and productive than stone age violence.

It seems Kashmiri’s are mindslaves, lead to believe that they cannot have a good life, unless they work against India, that is the single biggest lie that Kashmiri’s have been fed, by the parasitic mullahs and political heros, that want to keep them academically and mentally subservient and stupid to some ficitiously drawn up political religious war.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

GW :

It is high time that there should be a referendum about the wishes of people of Kashmir : a) Whether they want independence ,b) Whether they want to join Pakistan or c) Whether they want autonomy within Indian federation ? The referendum should be held in POK or so called Azad kashmir?

By joining the Indian election process, one thing has become clear that people of Kashmir neither wants independence nor they want to join Pakistan , and they already have autonomy, which falsifies all the claims of Pakistan and Pakistan supported terrorists .

Kashmir has never been a core issue between India and Pakistan, it is an attempt by Pakistanis to drag Kashmir to create an artificial dispute. In fact, there is no dispute between India and Pakistan, it is false Pakistani propaganda and create war hysteria against India.

Posted by manishindia | Report as abusive
 

Kashmir is not and should not be the concern of Pakistan. They should follow the example of Egypt towards Israel on the Palestinian case, and keep their military out of this issue.
The drama which is being played against Kashmiris by the Indian military in their own land concerns primarily the Kashmiris living within and outside their country as well as the peace seeking International community. India is paralised and its political leaders are unlikely to alter course and put an end to sufferings of the people. Their main occupation at the time is economics. The UN general secretary should get off his ar…. and speak for the Kashmiris. When did he last made a visit to Kashmir?
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive
 

I am sure Kashmiris can speak for themselves instead of having Indians and Pakistanis doing it for them:

Why not let them speak? Here are Kashmiri blogs:

http://kashmir-truth-be-told.blogspot.co m/
Kashmir Forum
Kashmir Liberation Front
Hurriyat Conference
Mazameen-e-Ghai`b
~Kashmir~
Memoirs of a Kashmiri
Kashmir Views
Brainwaves Kashmir
Kashmir Currently
Tanveer and Kashmir
The Saints Are Coming
Saadat’s Blog
Timez of Kashmir
Kashmir Centre
[Kasheer]
Zarafshan

Sakooter Speaks
Propaganda against Kashmir countered
Candid Musings
United Kashmir
Occupied Kashmir – Taimur Ali
Kashur Kot-Sameer Bhat
Naveed Qazi’s blog
Kashir Koor
Abode of the Saints
A New World Order

Posted by mirzausman | Report as abusive
 

They shun offer of talks:

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapc f/06/09/india.kashmir.talks/

And instead they want to fight an army to gain their rights. When they get killed, they cry human rights abuse.

Make up your mind!

And why don’t you dare and talk about the plight of Kashmiri Pundits:

As per wikipedia article,

“The violent Islamic insurgency has specifically targeted this minority (Kashmiri Pundits) and 300,000 have been murdered and 4,00,000 displaced along with gang rapes of 35,000 Kashmiri Hindu women.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmiri_Pa ndit

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive
 

Why nobody talks about the plight of Kashmiri Pundits?

As per wikipedia article:

“The violent Islamic insurgency has specifically targeted this minority and 300,000 have been murdered and 4,00,000 displaced along with gang rapes of 35,000 Kashmiri Hindu women”

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive
 

Sure, go talk to them about your “facts”. I don’t want to be their voice…

Posted by mirzausman | Report as abusive
 

Same can be said about Balochis. At least, India has instrument of accession, what document you got?

One would wonder how any other country would deal with people who don’t want to talk.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/south_a sia/10261715.stm

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapc f/06/09/india.kashmir.talks/

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive
 

Same can be said about Balochis. At least, India has an instrument of accession, what document you got?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrument_ of_Accession_(Jammu_and_Kashmir)

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive
 

A document signed after Indian forces without the representation of the people of kashmir has the same value as toilet paper (after use).

WHERE is this document? The UN would love to inspect and confirm the authenticity of this document. Can GOI present this document in its physical form ?

precisely WHAT can be said about Balochis? please elaborate, I am interested in your comparison/statistics of the Baloch versus Kashmir.

Posted by mirzausman | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •