Delhi rejects sovereignty proposal for Kashmir
29 March 2000
B L Kak
New Delhi: The Government of India has turned down a proposal seeking sovereignty for Kashmir. The proposal has come from Kashmir Study Group (KSG), the New York-based think-tank. That New Delhi will not oblige Islamabad and its allies by allowing any change in Kashmir?s ''constitutional'' link with the Indian Union became clear during Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee?s meeting with the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, on Tuesday. A top Government official told EXCELSIOR that during the discussion on the choice of operations employed by the Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) and by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operatives inside Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister informed Dr Farooq Abdullah that the Government of India will be forced to think of other means if Islamabad refused to stop cross-border terrorism and proxy war in the State. Dr Farooq, who had a question or two on the recent visit to India by the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, was also informed by Mr Vajpayee that the ''tough'' stand taken by him (Mr Clinton) against Pakistan?s disruptionist designs against India, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, can be expected to be followed by an increase in the ISI-aided terrorism in parts of the State. ''We have to be fully prepared for any eventuality. We have to be vigilant'', Prime Minister told the J&K Chief Minister. Mr Vajpayee?s refusal to accept any suggestion for negotiations on the already settled matter, namely, Kashmir?s accession to India surfaced after the Ministries of Home and External Affairs had expressed themselves against the proposal mooted by the New York-based KSG favouring sovereignty for Kashmir with or without India and Pakistan exchanging territories. Kashmir Study Group?s report, which was prepared before Mr Bill Clinton?s visit to India and Pakistan, suggested that Indian Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) could become two sovereign entities on either side of the Line of Control. Alternatively, the two territories, namely, Indian Kashmir and PoK could merge to become one sovereign State straddling the LoC, the report said. Copies of the KSG?s report titled ?Kashmir: A Way Forward, February 2000? were circulated, albeit on a limited scale, in New Delhi and Islamabad days before the US President?s visit to the two capital cities. The report has highlighted three suggestions, each one of them unacceptable to New Delhi. In the first place, the KSG has favoured the creation of two separate entities on either side of the Line of Control. While the second suggestion favours a single sovereign State straddling the LoC, the third if for the creation of only one entity on the Indian side of the LoC. The report has also suggested that the new entity or entities will not have international personality nor a membership of the United Nations. Proposed entity, the report says, will also not be allowed to establish its own defence and foreign affairs mechanisms. EXCELSIOR was officially told: What came to be regarded as ''totally preposterous'' by the power corridors in Delhi was the KSG?s loaded reference to the self-determination issue. The KSG has argued that the areas from the Indian side of the LoC, which share the cultural tradition of Kashmir, could join the new Kashmir entity through self-determination. The KSG?s report, indeed, has explained that this can be exercised by the people of the Kashmir valley, Doda district, Gool Gulab Garh tehsil, Poonch district and three northern tehsils of Rajouri. The KSG comprises, among others, 25 leading Americans, two members of the House of Representatives and half a dozen former ambassadors. And this US body is funded and led by Mr Farooq Kathwari, chairman of Ethan Allen Inc, an American furniture retail chain.