US report is Pervez's Bible on J&K
23 June 2001
New Delhi: One of the proposals Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will consider during the Agra summit is the opening of the Muzzafarabad-Srinagar road for another Indo-Pak Bus service, leading to some kind of a free trade zone. The Pakistani President and Chief Executive Officer has clearly said he wants concessions of these kind and more. Experts point out that these and similar demands form part of a 1998 Kashmir Study Group Report, titled "Livingston Proposal: Kashmir, A Way Forward". Also known as the Farooq Kathwari report, the document aims at diluting Indian sovereignty in Kashmir. Farooq Kathwari, who is a furniture tycoon based in the US and is said to be the man who practically controls the Kashmir Study Group, is allegedly close to the American quarters of policy making. This is evident, as the US political establishment had offered some insights into its vision of settling the Kashmir dispute through this report and speaks of a degree of autonomy to the region. The report contains ways and means of creating a sovereign entity of Kashmir. It first envisages creation of two Kashmir entities - one each on either side of the LoC, each with it's own government, constitution and a working relationship with either India or Pakistan or both.The second proposal talks of a single Kashmiri entity with it's own constitutional framework and government. As per the report, the new entity will have its constitution as well as citizenship rights, flag and a legislature. The Kashmiri citizenship may also allow them to acquire entity passports, the report suggests while giving six working formulas of the sovereign entity which differ only in detail. All formulae aim to further dilute the relations of the State with India and are on communal lines. Significantly, the report also advocates setting up of "free trade zones" and "open borders in Kashmir", allowing a free flow of people, goods and services to and from Pakistan and India. This, the reports says, will lead to more economically rational trade and transportation patterns, enhancing the volume of tourism and will also help in restoring the social, economical and cultural ties shattered by partition. The report includes a memorandum, prepared by Hurst Hannum, professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Medford, US. It is divided into three sections, dealing with the issues of legislation, citizenship and currency, in its first part, followed by the options of the Kashmiri entity and the final section suggesting how an agreement on Kashmir can be given a legal standing through an India- Pakistan treaty. Says Dr S K Teng, a retired HoD of political science in Kashmir University, "Nowhere in the world will you find a sovereign entity within an sovereign country as is being propounded by the report. All the confidence-building measures that Pakistan wants us to take are actually aimed at further alienating Kashmir from the country. All this talk finds its genesis in the Farooq Kathwari report." "Cross-border terrorism will not stop and these concessions will only suffice to assist Pak agenda of balkanising India," he adds. Former Foreign Secretary S K Singh questions the validity of such concessions, saying that it has to be seen in a larger perspective. "First of all, the issue of terrorism has to be addressed. How will all this stop? Will Pakistan change? Then, there is the Afghanistan perspective and the whole question of the terrorism it exports," adds Mr Singh. Foreign policy expert Brahma Chellany asserts that the Kathwari measures will be of no bearing and consequence, "All this talk about not supporting the jehadis is basically false, as General Musharraf said that he supports the militant ways in Kashmir. Facts suggest that both Musharraf and Vajpayee are playing to hidden forces." Mr Chellany adds that the soft border approach will bring catastrophic trouble to India, "Today, with closed borders, we are bearing the brunt of a proxy war and the whole State is terrorism-affected. Opening the Muzzafarabad route or a free trade zone will go further in undermining Indian security, as Pakistan will continue the proxy war." Echoing the sentiments, former High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarthy says, "We cannot and should not follow the recommendations in the Kathwari report as they are going to take us nowhere. Before arriving on any consensus, the issue of terrorism needs to be addressed, and on this, we should go by the ground realities and not mere words." "The question of trade and the bus route can only be taken up after that," he adds.