Let us do away with Kashmir

“Pakistan does not claim Kashmir. Kashmir dispute is about aspirations of Kashmiris.”Pakistan’s foreign affairs spokesperson Tasnim Aslam was more articulate and fluent in her speech than the President himself when he said that Pakistan was willing to withdraw its claim over Kashmir. In his previous interview with a private TV channel President Pervez Musharraf has said, “If they (APHC leaders are not willing to accept this (his formula for the solution of Kashmir issue); they must be prepared to fight withIndia for another hundred years.


Before partition, when there was Dogra rule in Kashmir, civil liberties were non-existent. People were asked to pay taxes for their hearths, agricultural tools and even wives. This was the most heinous aspect of a tyrannical rule. The idea of a separate homeland for the Muslims of Sub-continent was much fascinating for the people ofKashmir. They invited Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to visit Kashmir in order to show their sympathy to this idea. In the later years of history they proved their allegiance to this cause and wanted to accede to Pakistan.


Ideologically, Kashmiri nationalism is a natural outcome of the concept of a separate homeland for the Muslims of subcontinent. Therefore Kashmir’s accession to Pakistanremained a focal point of the struggle of Kashmiri Muslims after independence of Indiaand Pakistan.


According to official version, when Pakistan turned over Afghan policy, it was considered necessary due to our commitments on war against terror. Though, lately we have accepted that it was the threat that worked. Contrarily, our relations today withIndia are much better than the previous years of tensions and mistrust. But we are heading towards another somersault on Kashmir without any homework. Astonishingly, Musharraf’s close aides in the parliament including federal ministers are still trumpeting that there is no policy shift on Kashmir.


President Musharraf’s stance can be termed as his vision about Kashmir. On January 7, 2006 in a media interview in Islamabad, he aired the idea of demilitarization of three major cities in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) namely Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramullah as the first step towards solving the issue by placing the disputed area under joint control and management.


This was not the first time Musharraf had proposed demilitarization in Kashmir. He floated the same idea in October 2004, though without naming any town. He said, “Demilitarize Kashmir, give self governance to its people with a joint management arrangement on top.”


Now, the president has gone not a single step forward but a giant leap. Asked whetherPakistan was giving up its claim to Kashmir, Musharraf said, “We will have to… yes… if this solution comes up”. Let us have a glance how this incident was reported in our immediate neighborhood. Speaking without thinking (daily Star Bengladesh), Musharraf a Modern Kautaliya (Greater Kashmir), Musharraf has misspoken again (Gulf News),Pakistan changes tenor of its Kashmir position (Hindustan Times).


Kashmir is no more an integral part of Pakistan, not even a joint territory between Indiaand Pakistan. Pakistan also assert now that “If we talk of independent Kashmir then we will be out of Kashmir’s legal framework which give the Kashmir dispute an international legality”


If Kashmir is not going to be an integral part of Pakistan/India nor it is an independent state, then what type of the territory is it? Self rule in its finest shape without an international face is no more than a mess. So, let the Kashmiris fight for another hundred years with this mess.


Earlier President’s four point formula included identification of the territory of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, demilitarization on both sides of the LoC, self governance by the people of the state and a joint control by India and Pakistan.


At first, India categorically denied this formula. But with the passage of time willingness to think upon these lines has been shown by Indian authorities at occasions. India is interested in converting this occasion into an opportunity to get some pledges upon nontraditional security environment. New Delhi is willing to set up cross LoC joint mechanisms on issues of health, water management, environmentprotection and tourism etc. but unwilling to give sovereignty status under a joint management system.


According to Indian approach, we should think in terms of Indo Pak joint management of various resources and consultative institutions in agriculture, forestry, environment, tourism, water and power by making borders irrelevant. But, Indian opposition leaders from BJP are still pressing the government not to indulge in such interaction withPakistan.


We must understand that first we stepped down from previous stand on Kashmir in which we considered it a disputed state between two countries. Its status was yet to be determined according to the UN resolutions and those resolutions called for a plebiscite in Kashmir.


Now Pakistan has forwarded such an idea in which people’s opinion has not been considered relevant. Not even in the most recent interaction of foreign office with Kashmiri leaders anyone hinted such a bold initiative.


Earlier, in President’s opinion, the identification of territorial boundaries of the state of Jammu & Kashmir was the first step to move forward. As far as this identification process is concerned, recently, foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Qasuri said that both countries were close to reach an agreement on Siachin. But when India openly asked to show our positions on map we opted to be silent.

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