The ambit of humanity
How much can Kashmiris expect under the sky
ANALYSIS BY ZULFIKAR MAJID
The recent offer from New Delhi that it was open to negotiating anything less than independence for Kashmir has failed to enthuse the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it seems there are no takers for Union Home Secretary G K Pillai’s proposal.
“We are telling everybody please tell us what you feel is achievable. We have no fixed, closed mind. The government of India is open. Total Azadi (independence)–no. Government would be ready to say yes to anything less than Azadi – we are open to negotiate on that,” Pillai offered earlier this month.
The offer was out rightly rejected by both factions of Hurriyat Conference and for a common Kashmiri it was another ‘prank’ as they have been fed with such offers right from 1947 in general ¬¬and 1990 in particular. New Delhi talks about peace and talks only when international pressure mounts on it. Thanks to West’s concern over peace and stability in Afghanistan, peace in Kashmir has again become priority for US.
From Narsimha Rao’s, any thing less than Azadi and “Sky is the limit” to Vajpayee’s slogan that his government would not repeat previous mistakes and a solution would be found within the ambit of humanity (Insanyat Ka Dyra) and Manmohan Singh’s “out of a box” solutions, all failed to produce results.
Most of the times there have been much of a political rhetoric than any substantive proposal forthcoming. Last year’s offer of “constructive dialogue” by Manmohan Singh with political groups outside the mainstream was another slogan in the long list. In latest offer from New Delhi Pillai said, “The state has some sort of autonomy. If they want more, let them come up with that idea. We are ready to talk about anything.”
Why such offers by Indian leadership don’t go well with Kashmiris? Just a few years after Narsimha Rao’s “Sky is the limit” offer, when in July 2000 the then National Conference government sent the report of the state autonomy commission recommending full autonomy to the state except in the areas of finance, defence and foreign affairs, was rejected by then NDA led government in the centre. The bill was treated with ‘contempt’ by New Delhi as it was rejected by then NDA government without going through its contents. The bill had been passed by both the houses of J&K state legislature – the members of whom are projected as real representatives of people of Jammu and Kashmir by New Delhi in international forums.
If New Delhi is willing to give more autonomy to Kashmir, then what was wrong with NC’s 2000 proposal? When New Delhi treated proposal of the party, which swears by Indian constitution, imagine what can be the fate of the proposals of those who demand separation from Union of India.
Rao’s offer had come at a time when insurgency was at its peak in Kashmir and international pressure was mounting on India to solve the dispute. However, that time no one from separatist camp was willing to join the dialogue process.
When Vajpayee talked about finding solution within the ambit of humanity in 2003, moderate separatists joined the dialogue process. But the dialogue yielded no result. With the change of guard in New Delhi in 2004, Manmohan talked about “out of a box” solutions and Hurriyat (M), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik and Peoples Conference leader, Sajjad Gani Lone, were invited for talks. The process continued till 2007 without yielding end results.
It seems peace and stability within Kashmir is very low on agenda of Delhi. Fair elections, good governess, and strengthening of the civil society are all well-meaning initiatives, but they have proved to be inadequate in the absence of serious political initiatives to find solutions to the issues confronting Jammu and Kashmir.
Unfortunately New Delhi talks about peace and talks only when international pressure mounts on it. Unless and until New Delhi won’t be ready for an interim solution, which will finally evolve into a final resolution peace would elude. There is a trust deficit between New Delhi and Kashmiris and it can be reduced by some short-term solution like to allow Kashmiris travel freely to Pakistan and AJK. Travel should be a matter of right and not a matter of subservience to the security agencies for issuance of documents.
Islamabad also has a role to play. They could give Kashmiris rights which they give to their own citizens so that any Kashmiri who wants to live there, work there, conduct business should be allowed to do so. We should have identical political systems in AJK and this part of Kashmir. Cross border institutions should be allowed to evolve unhindered. All draconian laws should be repealed and Indian armed forces garrisoned away from civilian areas.
You can find a solution by moving forward rather than going back into history. It is the present, which is going to provide us the future. There are still very reasonable voices in Delhi who are ready to give peace a chance. If our leadership has enough convincing power and are able to cultivate enough support of masses, it is not a big deal to convince reasonable voices in Delhi to follow a line in J&K, which can ultimately lead to resolution of the problem.
Development, progress and economic packages are important, but resolution of Kashmir is more important for the everlasting peace in sub-continent. Peace in Kashmir is in the best interest of both New Delhi and Islamabad. Both the countries don’t invest much to tackle development issues, as millions remain mired in poverty. Over the next 12 years, India is reportedly set to spend a whopping US$200 billion on defence acquisitions to replace its outdated inventory.
India, the largest arms buyer among emerging nations, accounted for 7.5 per cent of all international arms sales between 2000 and 2007. It has spent billions of dollars in the past few years on purchases of planes, radars and ships from Britain, France, Germany and Russia and Israel.
Just 2.3 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product is spent on education, the lowest level of any country in South Asia while military spending accounts for 3.5 percent of GDP.
So any progress on Kashmir means peace and development in both the countries. Better late than never, governments in New Delhi and Islamabad must realise it and give Kashmiris what they have been aspiring for the last more than six decades.
(The author can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ideas expressed are his own)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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