Don’t re-invent the Wheel
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Don’t re-invent the Wheel

Restoration of internal autonomy, strengthening of Article 370, revocation of AFSPA and making Line of Control (LOC) irrelevant are the common elements in the roadmaps suggested by the panels for moving forward on resolution of Kashmir.

With New Delhi sending an All-Party delegation to Kashmir, in its bid to restore normalcy in the region that is in the midst of uprising, recommendations of the shelved Government of India-appointed panels, could pave the way for building confidence and help in resolution of the political problem.

"There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Already we have recommendations from government of India's panels gathering dust for past several years. A fresh beginning could be made by working on the commonalities among the reports to take the political process forward," said an observer. 

Restoration of internal autonomy, strengthening of Article 370, revocation of AFSPA and making Line of Control (LOC) irrelevant are the common elements in the roadmaps suggested by the panels for moving forward on resolution of Kashmir.

From Working Groups to a 3-member team of interlocutors appointed by New Delhi in 2010, the panels have in unison favored restoration of autonomy, revocation of controversial laws and increasing people-to-people between divided parts of Kashmir.

Amid the renewed effort by New Delhi to restore peace in the Valley, the recommendations have come into focus again as all–party delegation headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is arriving here on Sunday to hold talks with different stakeholders.

The Observers here said the New Delhi instead of re-inventing the wheel by undertaking a fresh exercise to find the solution the focus should be on finding commonalities among the available options.

Working Group

The Working Group headed by Justice Sagheer Ahmad had favored restoration of autonomy for addressing the problem.

"The question of 'Autonomy' and its demand can be examined in the light of the 'Kashmir Accord' or in some other manner or on the basis of some other formula as the present Prime Minister may deem fit and appropriate so as to restore the 'Autonomy' to the extent possible," the WG had recommended.

On question of the Article 370, the WG said the issue should be left to the people of J&K for a decision. "It is for the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to decide how long to continue Article 370 in its present form and when to make it permanent of abrogate. The matter being 60 years old should be settled once for all," the WG had recommended.

In its recommendations the WG head by Vice-President Hamid Ansari had favored discontinuation of AFSPA, saying "Law and order matters should be dealt with, to the maximum extent possible, through normal laws."

The 2nd WG, which was constituted by government of India, had recommended a slew of measure for increasing the people-to-people contact two parts of Kashmir.

Interlocutors' Report

A team of three interlocutors which was appointed by the Congress-led UPA Government in 2010 had recommended setting up of a Constitutional Committee (CC) to review all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the State after the signing of the 1952 Agreement.

The panel had also favored review of Disturbed Areas Act, and re-appraisal of application of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

On talks with separatist, the report had suggested resumption of the dialogue process between the Centre and Hurriyat Conference "at the earliest opportunity".

"If the stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir are willing to enter into a settlement, the door can always be kept open for Pakistan to join. The key goal is as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed, make the LoC irrelevant. It should become a symbol of Concord and Cooperation," it said.

Agenda of Alliance

The Common Minimum Program, known as Agenda of Alliance, between ruling PDP-BJP for six-year power sharing in the State, favours talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat.

"………. The coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders, which will include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections," the Agenda of Alliance reads.

The CMP also suggests confidence building measures such as, "enhancing people to people contact on both sides of the LoC encouraging civil society exchanges, taking travel, commerce, trade and business across the LoC to the next level and opening new routes across all three regions to enhancing connectivity".

They said it before….

Rajiv Gandhi: talked about anything short of Azadi to resolve Kashmir

PV Narasimha Rao: Sky is the Limit as far as resolution of Kashmir is concerned

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Dialogue within ambit of humanity (Insaniyat Ke Daire mein) to resolve Kashmir

Manmohan Singh: Make borders irrelevant and meaningless to pave way for K-resolution

Narendra Modi: Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat way forward on Kashmir

What can you focus on…

With All-Party delegation led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arriving in Kashmir on Sunday, amid the ongoing uprising in Kashmir that has entered 57th day, heads and leaders of different political parties are keeping fingers crossed hoping that the latest initiative wouldn't prove to be a cosmetic exercise to buy time and pacify anger as has been the practice in the past.

AM Sagar (General Secretary National Conference)

Today the situation in Kashmir is grim and one of the main reasons for it is the brewing anger among people who have time and again felt betrayed by New Delhi. We have seen political delegations and interlocutors promising sky in the past but at the end every initiative has proved to be a hollow promise. The success of all-party delegation's mission will depend on whether the Government of India would this time pursue the initiative seriously to take onboard Hurriyats and other separatists. The initiative has to be serious though National Conference doesn't expect much given the past experiences. If entire Kashmir is on the roads today the need is to understand the reason behind it and try to suggest measures which will help us gain confidence of people.

GA Mir (State President Congress)

Since both mainstream and "people with other opinion" are stakeholders to the Kashmir, the initiative shouldn't end up as a monologue wherein the all party delegation ends up talking to people within the system. If Hurriyat and like-minded people don't agree to talk, members from within the delegation should make personal efforts to reach out to them. The problem is that New Delhi didn't do any ground work ahead of the visit of the parliamentarians' delegation which is disappointing. The outcome of the visit will nevertheless depend on how much flexibility the government of India will show to reach out to various shades of opinion. At the same time all the stakeholders have to realize that any forward movement is possible only when the parties sit across the table to talk. The strategy should be two-pronged: focusing on how to get normalcy back in Kashmir which could require announcing some CBMs. Secondly, the dialogue between government of India and various stakeholders in the state should go on a sustained basis.

Sartaj Madni (General Secretary PDP)

 Only talks can pave way for forward movement on Kashmir issue. At this moment the focus shouldn't be on the results but instead there should be serious attempt should be made from all sides to provide relief to people. This move should be sustained with and made result oriented as people of Kashmir, because of the bitterness experience from the past, look at such initiatives with suspicion. While the past attempts have not bore any result the endeavor should be to keep talking and trying to find a common ground for ending miseries of people. If "people" are really concerned about the pain and suffering of Kashmiris then they have a duty to come forward and put across their viewpoint.   

MY Tarigami (State Secretary CPI-M)

This visit of All Party Delegation shouldn't end up as another cosmetic exercise. The government should not miss this opportunity and should facilitate the meeting of separatists with all party delegations. Ahead of the visit all the separatists should be released and a formal invitation must go to them for talks with the delegation and putting across their view point. The visit should be an effort towards breaking the ice without putting any conditions for talking. Like in 2010, the delegation members can form the groups and reach out separatists for building consensus. We have seen the process of interlocution as well as the visit of all party delegations dying silent death in the past. The elementary requirement in the present situation in Kashmir is to talk to and listen to people and making a beginning by offering some CBMs that could pave the way for restoration of normalcy and institutionalisation of the dialogue process at all levels. Don't exclude the separatist opinion because doing so will not serve any purpose.

Hakeem Yasin (Chairman Peoples Democratic Front)

New Delhi has been sending political delegations to come since 1990. In 2010 lot of promises were made when an all party delegation visited Kashmir. The problem is that Government of India views Kashmir problem, which is purely political in nature, through economic and development prism. If such was the case then the Rs 80000 crore 'developmental packages' should have solved all problems. Kashmir is a political issue and for any forward movement on it, there have to be talks with separatists who are a stakeholder to the problem. Doing so would send a signal about New Delhi's seriousness to resolve the problem.  An atmosphere should be created through this visit that would allow both the sides to come to the dialogue table in the days to come. Also, initiatives need to be taken to reduce trust deficit. During his last visit to Kashmir the Home Minister Rajnath Singh said pellet guns would go within four days. Today, the forces continue to use the pellet guns apart from PAVA shells (the new weapon that has been cleared by official panel as alternative to pellets). Do they have any idea what kind of signal are they sending in Kashmir when they can't keep their word for even a week.

Er. Abdul Rashid Sheikh (Chairman (Awami Itihaad Party)

This visit, as has been the practice in the past, shouldn't be a time buying exercise and a move to pacify the anger in Kashmir. The focus should be on reaching out to separatists which can help us to achieve some breakthrough on the ground in the prevailing situation. For breaking the ice the need is to offer unconditional dialogue to the Hurriyats and other separatist groups apart from assuring to work on a process which could help to build the on process of political engagements. We can't expect solutions overnight but the delegation can make a beginning by reaching out to all shades of opinions and offering an unconditional apology, on behalf of the parliament, for excessive use of force on Kashmiris. There is a need for both the sides to shun the rigidness and engage in the political process that could pave the way to take the initiatives for addressing the political problem. Since the delegation has the mandate of the Parliament it should intervene for allowing separatists to visit to Pakistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir so that a consensus is build for taking political initiative.

Sat Sharma (State BJP President)

The delegation is arriving to get feedback from the ground and try to understand the reason behind the unrest. The priority should be on taking steps to end the prevailing situation and take to task the people who are fueling this cycle of unrest. The need is to reach out to youth and at the same time talk to people who are ready to engage within the ambit of "Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, and Jahmooriyat" and within confines of the Indian constitution. The Kashmir youth has to be focus of this initiative so as to ensure a permanent change on the ground. Those who belong to "other opinion" are responsible for the present situation and the need is to separate them.

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