Posted Sat, 04/10/2010 – 15:06
3rd International Kashmir Peace Conference Washington D.C 24-25 September 2004
Kashmir: A Way Forward
Muhammad Farooq Rehmani
Convener All Parties Hurriet Conference AJK/Pakistan Chapter&
Chairman Jammu & Kashmir People’s Freedom League
After a laps of 57 years India and Pakistan want to explore ways and means for their economic cultural and social cooperation but both of them differ in there ultimate objectives and intentions. While India wants to prove before the world that economic, cultural and security relations should receive focus, Pakistan is not ensured any ray of hope for Kashmir solution at the end of the day. Admittedly the UN, India and Pakistan failed to resolve the Kashmir dispute during these years. It was the dispute of 20th century which had given them ample time to identify the causes of political bitterness and turmoil and address its genesis without any waste of time, but they could not learn from other examples or precedents.
In this way Jammu and Kashmir lost geographic unity, integrity and suzerainty. India started cudgels and remained at loggerheads not only with Pakistan but also with the people of Kashmir. Thus in this long tug of war, Jammu and Kashmir further lost its identity, definition and scope of individuality in the so called realm of political ethics. Pakistan associated itself with the political movement of Jammu and Kashmir and India interpreted it differently and in a twisted manner. Had Kashmir been seen from the eyes of Kashmiris the situation would not have worsened.
Mahjoor, the national poet of Kashmir, wrote lyrical verses on the plight of Kashmiris and the new scenario of Kashmir in 1940s and 1950s. The poet put his finger on the pulse of his people and said thou alist here. He called for the recognition of Kashmiris as the sole party of Kashmir dispute. Since then many people have died with natural death and many more have been brutally killed for demanding the right of self determination and the right of self determination still irks India for no fault of Kashmiris.
During the last 14 years and even after the present thaw in India Pakistan relations never a day passed when somebody was not killed, disappeared or arrested by army without any regard for his age, gender or status. No doubt all the previous Indian installed National Conference or Congress administrations had many scars on their faces but the present mufti regime which loudly claimed to end human rights abuses in J&K is only rubbing salt on the wounds of people in the name of healing touch. It did not abandon or challenge the Indian state terrorism. Obviously, the list of eliminated Kashmiri youths seems still endless. Indian army abhors the suggestion of pulling back to barracks.
Promotion of universal concept of human dignity and women’s honor in Kashmir is still a dream to be translated into reality. One cannot find a village in Kashmir which may not have experienced disgrace to the women folk by the Indian army.
The legal structure and the state apparatus do not actually facilitate or encourage freedom of expression and political activities in Kashmir. Every military and civil administrative structure and involvement has terribly set sociological and economic apple-cart topsy-turvy. Therefore, India-Pakistan confidence-building measures have proved to be hollow and meaningless and have not brought any solace to the people of Kashmir.
More or less everyone in J&K, Pakistan and India is suffering from real fear owing to the festering Kashmir dispute, but not as the inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir. India and Pakistan suffer because their economy, trade and the uplift programs, projects and corruption eradication ideas do not receive as much focus as their military needs. The people of the Indian occupied Kashmir are at the receiving end. They suffer perpetually because their life, honor, property and the social fabric has been ravaged by the ravings of the Indian state machinery.
India’s ruthless campaign of terror and humiliation of the people after the 1988 uprising has totally alienated Kashmiris from India and there is no hope whatsoever to mend the fences with India unless there is a big leap forward by the Indian government towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
Kashmiris on the basis of ground situation and genuine fears have not digested the package of CBMs between India and Pakistan. They do not see eye to eye with the latest edition of inter-dominion cultural and economic activities especially the tour of Pakistani scouts to J&K. Therefore Pakistan will not be able to sell out the idea of CBMs to Kashmir. India would have to modify and change her concept and policy over the status of Kashmir to address Pakistani and Kashmiri apprehensions and perceptions. Only then Pakistan would be able to respond to the security concerns of India vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir.
A stage could come when Kashmir, Pakistan and India would have to take some joint mandatory decisions to address each others views and concerns. As for Kashmiris they want their historic grievances to be redressed and the right of self determination restored.
For a durable peace and cooperation in the South Asia India must give up the plan of universal terror in Kashmir. She has to see writings on the wall and accept the fact that the horrendous terror campaign unleashed by its forces in J&K has failed to defeat the willpower of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. India’s cosmetic peace measures did not win over hearts of Kashmiris. India also fought wars for perpetuating and retaining her illegal rule over Kashmir but it never gave her political peace and economic stability.
Now, India should learn from the home grown resistance movement of Kashmir and restore civil liberties to the people without any rhetoric. It is very strange that on the one hand India apparently suggests peaceful means of struggle to Kashmiris, but on the other hand it keeps political leverage too by military means in his hands. By constructing a huge illegal fence along the disputed LOC, India has given a negative political message to the people of Kashmir and has complicated the mission of peace loving people and organizations in South Asia and other parts of the world for the final resolution of Kashmir.
Many countries in the world admit Kashmir to be a festering wound, but surprisingly at the same time they advocate back burner policy over Kashmir, and advise India and Pakistan to forget past and learn to live in peace and coexistence. It is a good moral suggestion, but they forget that Kashmir was always the basic irritant which led to border clashes and open wars between these two neighbors. They could never live in peace and harmony with each other during the past 57 years. Besides, protagonists of utopian peace have ignored views of Kashmiris who remain sandwiched in this state of affairs, nothing short of a grave yard silence. Kashmir waited long enough to see the fulfillment of India’s promises but it was all a mirage.
Actually there was always a peaceful political movement in Kashmir but none bothered about any solution of the Kashmir dispute. The issue was always kept on the back burner. The whole world acted as a silent spectator. The cries of oppressed people fell on deaf ears and India increased number of her military forces drastically in Kashmir.
The last factor forced the people of Kashmir to answer India in her own language. Therefore the proposition to keep Kashmir on the waiting list seems ludicrous to Kashmiris and they rightly smell danger to their movement of great human sacrifices. Hence they will never accept to roll back or freeze the Kashmir dispute.
The overtures of peace in the shape of CBMs need reciprocity. India so far has not demonstrated open heartedness to settle Kashmir issue peacefully and honorably. There was no unilateral cease fire or pullout of Indian forces in Jammu & Kashmir in response to the unilateral cease fire declared by Pakistan along the LOC or working boundary. On the contrary India intensified her military operations against peaceful inhabitants and thousands of people have been killed even after the gradual thaw in the India-Pakistan relations.
Thus Kashmiris do not accept India’s sermons on peace because she is not giving any relaxation to Kashmiri groups and political parties and not introducing liberal political policy to replace the present draconian laws of the State.
Torture was the first weapon which India tested on Kashmiris to force them to submission and slavery. It is still universal, more systematic, extreme and gruesome in Kashmir. Besides, armed suspects, political activists and non activists are brought to torture centers under one pretext or the other. Such centers are operating in hundreds through out Jammu & Kashmir where the scale of torture is still beyond human imagination.
No doubt, the ceasefire between India and Pakistan is holding on the LOC, but there is no peace inside Kashmir, where people are being killed and women disgraced and molested in their homes and hearths or on the streets by army and rented militants. Killings take place in a targeted manner one after another.
Given the India-Pakistan foreign ministers recent talks in Delhi, there was no progress on the conflict resolution front, but it is all unreal euphoria which people are forced to believe. However, dialogue and negotiations for peace and conflict resolution are certainly charming words of the present day world. The same country which gives the impression of resolving Kashmir issue through negotiations has denied even the basic right to life and honor to the people of Kashmir. India never allowed plebiscite in J&K under UN auspices, rather they killed their own savior Mahatma Gandhi with a bullet, when he was offering prayers to stop bloodbath of innocent people in 1947. The wise men of those fateful years easily judged the future course of the dark history of the subcontinent, which is still fogged with mistrust and hate.
Having said so, our objectives and terms of negotiations must be very clear to achieve the ultimate goal of a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute in consultation with the true representatives and in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants of Kashmir.
We are advised to use peaceful political channel to promote our stand point. But how to use that channel when the Indian Govt. is using her sharp edged armed channel to strangulate our peaceful political voice and exploiting 9/11 to dub everything as terrorism in Kashmir. India and some other countries do call Kashmir a difficult question of the past though each with different reasons but India tries to score the point that no overnight solution is possible on Kashmir. Obviously, India has backed out of its commitment of a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. But, we would like to know what hitch it has to repeal all repressive laws in Jammu and Kashmir and restore basic human rights and civil liberties to the people of Kashmir. At least, the fundamental freedoms do not need negotiations between India and Pakistan.
Harping by India on the so called LOC infiltration, training camps and cross-border terrorism and that too exactly on the eve of Foreign Ministers talks should not surprise anybody as Indian design is to make Pakistan defensive and stop his mouth from raising its voice against human rights abuses by army in Kashmir.
Indian statesmen cunningly coin terms to confuse the whole peace process, e.g. after the recent Foreign Ministers talks the Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh asked people not to expect spectacular break through nor a dramatic break down. Does it mean that after the 41 years of Bhutto-Swarn Singh talks India wants to engage Pakistan in yet another lengthy futile exercise? But this time they should not under estimate roots of resistance movement in Kashmir.
India is maneuvering a double game; dodging the world opinion and repressing Kashmiri youth in their homes, and at the same time promoting its agenda of cultural exchanges, education and Scout tours of children, people to people contacts, and advancing trade and commerce with Pakistan. What could be the implications of these steps on our freedom question and how unripe minds would be affected by this propaganda is very well known? Don’t these things bind Pakistan and Kashmir with some new Indian golden chains as was told to Sheikh Abdullah by topmost Indian politicians in 1952, when Delhi agreement was made to evade the role of UN in Kashmir. Pakistan is a member of coalition against terrorism and who knows when its importance will come to an end and it would be asked to get the idea of super power support out of head and Kashmir out of his system.
Kashmiris look with suspicion at the 71 talking points suggested by India to Pakistan. They think that there is no substantive thing in these points and hence will not leave to a just and fair conclusion of India-Pakistan exercise. They say that it includes Kashmir specific 8 points. But between the lines the intention is to see the LOC as a permanent international border.
True, there is no other peaceful alternative to dialogue for the resolution of a conflict but comparatively the things in the matter of Kashmir have not moved forward and are not moving as quickly and seriously as in other conflicts. Therefore Kashmiris will not lend unqualified support to the present dialogue process if its end becomes uncertain and hazy. We can not afford a dreadful cost to pay for ephemeral peace.
Again true but the people of Kashmir would never like to sacrifice their struggle for life, honor and dignity at the altar of some intricate chain of talks for the sake of talks. Why Kashmir is called repeatedly insurmountable? How so? Who is responsible? Is it not Kashmir which was and is ready to cooperate with the international community anytime and anywhere for a just and honorable settlement of the dispute?
Why did we divide Kashmiris from day one either by ceasefire line or by LOC and now laying barbed wire along the 1947 great divide? If once the world was not happy with the Berlin wall and ICG passed a judgment to declare Israeli fencing in Palestine as illegal, why not to follow the suite in Jammu and kashmir and direct India to remove fencing which also has no legal or international political basis.
During the first phase of composite dialogue process followed by the Foreign Ministers meeting of both the countries in Delhi, Pakistan and India have decided to continue their talks, although there is no change in the official position of the Indian government in regard to the specific issues like Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen and Wular Barraje. The people of both the countries especially Kashmiris stress upon substantive steps to succeed the present dialogue process. Therefore, under the given conditions we see no reason not to support the continuity of these talks but with tangible steps.
The success of this process in our view depends upon the following few points:
1. The dialogue process should not be eclipsed by the boggy of so called terrorism. The world conscience and especially the conscience of the United States—the author of war against terrorism should not allow this war to degenerate into the defense of usurpers and illegal military occupiers.
2. India and Pakistan should not seek ways and means to manage the Kashmir crisis but to resolve this crisis. Managing but not resolving the crisis will not receive a grass root level support in J&K and Pakistan.
3. By crushing the freedom struggle of Kashmiris, Kashmir will not cease to be a gigantic political problem for India. The present mind set of Kashmir will not change in favor of India.
4. The free world should coordinate and speedup efforts between the European Union, UNO and OIC for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
5. The United States should initiate and chalk out necessary substantive proposals to promote and succeed the dialogue process.
6. Destructive consequences of the long stalemate and trauma of Kashmiris should be understood and visualized by the military and political strategists of the world very well.
7. A pragmatic application of the doctrine of the right of self-determination should be evaluated by all the three parties of the dispute of Kashmir.
8. Kashmir struggle is multi-facet. Its political channels should be reoriented, activated and strengthened both domestically and internationally. Thus parliament members from every interested parliament be selected and organized to launch a worldwide campaign for an amicable settlement of Kashmir issue.
9. Public enthusiasm for the resolution of Kashmir issue should be roused and kept alive in India and Pakistan.
10. The causes of the diminishing trust-graph on the resolution of Kashmir issue in relation to India and Pakistan should be identified and treated well in advance.
11. The situation around should also be reviewed with an open mind.
12. All political and diplomatic means should be adopted to break the intransigence of India.
Above all, it is of paramount importance that India should take some political measures in Kashmir so that the people in the region in general and in J&K particular repose faith and trust in the India-Pakistan dialogue on Kashmir. Such as:
1. Recognizing and involving true representatives of Kashmiris in the dialogue process.
2. Releasing all political prisoners from various prisons or torture centers.
3. Announcing unconditional amnesty for all wanted political activists—at large in or outside the state.
4. Repealing all laws which are repugnant to the UN charter of Human Rights.
5. Permitting access to internal and international Human Rights Organizations to Jammu and Kashmir.
6. Lifting out all travel restrictions on the people of Kashmir and their political leaders.
7. Withdrawing prosecution cases against Kashmiri youth and political workers.
8. Setting of tribunals to investigate missing persons.
9. Guaranteeing civil liberties and political rights.
10. Calling back and rehabilitating in their original homes all those who have immigrated elsewhere due to fear to their life, honor and property.
11. Encouraging meetings between Kashmir leaders of all the regions, shades and separated parts to discuss and develop consensus on the final solution.
Lastly, I would like to remind you here that the clock is ticking, the time is running out and it will be soon too late to take the chance and take back control of the situation and give opportunity to Kashmiris to shape their political destiny in a free fear and impartial manner. I can assure you that the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir are determined to change their history of subjugation and eclipsed destiny. Let me end with a few lyrical verses from William Shakespeare:
When wilt thou be the humble suppliant’s friend,
And bring him where his suit may be obtained?
When wilt thou sort an hour great strifes to end?
Or free that soul which wretchedness hath chained?
Give physic to the sick, ease to the pained?
The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee;
But they ne’er meet with Opportunity.