Restating the Solution
Juggling various settlement proposals over the years we have lost the clarity of conflict in Kashmir
POINT OF VIEW BY RIYAZ AHMAD
How do we define a Kashmir solution. What is the desired outcome? I think it is a sense in Kashmir that there is no longer a problem about the state. This would mean that the majority of the population in the state believe their political aspirations are fulfilled, which should include the majorities of the minority population in the state. This would also mean that there is no longer a dispute over the state between India and Pakistan. Of course, this appears to be an ideal state which nobody hopes to come through anytime soon. But it is to this end that all the efforts to address Kashmir need to be geared to, whether through the an engagement between the Centre and Srinagar - in this case an initiative led by the current interlocutors or an upgraded version of it - or through the dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi.
And when we talk of self-rule and autonomy in terms of finding a solution to Kashmir, we are in effect only discussing an aspect of Kashmir problem. For self rule and autonomy in themselves form a part of the political agendas of the only two mainstream parties of the state, People’s Democratic Party and National Conference. And for the two parties these agendas are more of an electoral necessity than a political ideology. And some would say that the self rule and autonomy are an elaborately fleshed out slogans for the PDP and NC to pander to the Valley’s predominant separatist constituency which the two parties can only rally around themselves if they maintain an adversarial stance towards New Delhi. Talk to any politician from the two parties, and he will tell you what a tight-rope walk politics in the state is. Support in Valley for any mainstream political party, as one senior politician would tell me, is directly proportional to the distance it maintains from the central government.
This, in turn, has generated its own dilemmas for the politicians in the state – comic, if they were not so grim in their fallout. That is, more a political party tries to play to the sentiment in Kashmir, it is read as an unwelcome drift towards separatism in Delhi. And as a corollary, more a party plays to New Delhi’s expectations, it is seen as a political compromise in Kashmir. So, it should be no surprise to anyone of you, if some Kashmiri mainstream politicians talk autonomy and self rule in Kashmir, governance in Jammu and something against Pakistan in New Delhi. And in doing so, they always end up falling between the two stools.
Now as for the question if autonomy and self-rule do make the grade as a solution for Kashmir, the answer is beyond yes and no. For one, their proponents in the state – NC and PDP – are not a part of the problem in the state. Sources of problem in the state lie beyond them. It is an entirely separate political sphere and ideology in the state combined with militant violence and of course the dimension of Pakistan that make Kashmir a long festering conflict. It is one thing to discuss autonomy and self rule with NC and PDP and end up nowhere and another thing to engage Islamabad and Valley’s separatist block and emerge from it with autonomy and self rule as a solution. So far, New Delhi has consistently failed to do this. And on the contrary, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has been the only leader who made this broad engagement possible and almost pulled off a solution during intense rounds of Track-II and bilateral dialogue through 2004-2007.
In fact, Musharraf’s idea of a solution hovered around the scope of autonomy and self rule. Former Pakistan president envisaged a solution where Kashmiris across LoC would have substantial autonomy, be free to trade and travel without, of course, a radical change in the nature of the border between them. Where he went beyond the scope of autonomy and self rule was in calling for a joint management of Kashmir by India and Pakistan which New Delhi had serious misgivings about.
Autonomy and self rule, on the other hand, are the watered-down versions of the demand for absolute Azadi or as some separatists in Valley demand, the implementation of United Nation’s resolutions on the state. They seek resolution of Kashmir within the constitution of India. However, PDP’s self rule demand pushes the envelope a bit further. It calls for a drastic redefining of the Kashmir’s relations with New Delhi in a broader politico-economic framework involving Pakistan. For PDP, the self rule means a major constitutional restructuring, dual currency, roll-back of central laws, an elected governor, even the renaming of the titles of governor and chief minister as sadar-i-riyasat (president) and the prime minister respectively.
Autonomy, on the other hand, seeks a return to the J-K’s original terms of accession with New Delhi whereby centre’s authority over the state was limited to the defense, communications and foreign affairs. In J-K, it is regarded as the return to pre-1953 status. NC wants repeal of most of the laws subsequently extended to the state including jurisdiction of Supreme Court and Election Commission which the party thinks have undermined the autonomy of the state under article 370.
However, debating the merits and demerits of the autonomy and self rule hardly takes us anywhere in the effort to resolve Kashmir. Besides, dealing with these public documents independently of the other roadmaps and settlement formulae is likely to complicate our search for solution. For, they are too inextricably identified with the political agendas of the two mainstream parties to serve as goals for a larger Kashmir settlement. And for a Kashmir settlement effort to sustain and eventually work, it is necessary that it does not get identified with a particular resolution formula or remedy but comprehends all the formulae and proposals including the maximalist demand of Azadi to arrive at an acceptable solution. Pursuit of Kashmir resolution has necessarily to be an open-ended and unnamed effort for it to be participated by all the parties and stake-holders.
The challenge in Kashmir is huge. For the resolution of the conflict in the state is not only about responding to the separatist struggle in the state or sorting out “unfinished business of partition” with Pakistan but also about an effort that cleans up this place of the demons of history. Kashmir has to stop being an arena where implacable sub-continental rivalries play themselves out to the detriment of nobody but Kashmiris themselves. For the past sixty three years, the place has been turned into a battleground for the competing concepts of nationhoods. The streets of the Valley are witness to the unedifying play of the dichotomies of the identity, nationalisms and the ideology. This has to end.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OPINION
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Srinagar, Mar 1: The Special Director General of CRPF (J&K zone), Anirudh Uppal on Tuesday said that paramilitary CRPF along with policemen were undergoing training to control protests and mob More
- Srinagar City
Div Comm constitutes team to review working of automobile workshops, check polythene entry at Lower Munda
GK CITY CORRESPONDENT
Srinagar, Mar 1: Finally, the administration on Tuesday woke-up to save environment from pollution through a multi pronged strategy of putting check on use of polythene bags and also review the “haphazard More
Brutal murder shows animal instinct of accused: Court
Kathua, Mar 1: Fifteen years after broad day light murder of a royalty contractor, six persons were awarded death penalty by the Principal Sessions Judge Kathua, here on Monday. This will be for the More
- News in Brief
Srinagar, Mar 1: The senior leader of Hurriyat (M) and Chairman of Salvation Movement Zafar Akbar Bhat has been shifted from JIC Srinagar to Police Station Sadder.Zafar was arrested last June under PSA More
Aircel joins 3-G club in Valley
Srinagar, Mar 1: With market pressure telling on them, the mobile service providers in J&K are mulling to approach state government for lifting of ban on Short Messaging Service. The service providers More
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Ahmedabad, Mar 1: Nine years after the Godhra train carnage, 11 people were today sentenced to death and 20 awarded life imprisonment by a special court here for the 2002 incident that left 59 'karsevaks More