Sikandar defends 'Chenab formula'
23 May 2003
Our Staff Correspondent
MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan on Thursday said the Kashmiris on either side of the Line of Control would not accept the status quo and called upon India and Pakistan to seriously consider the division of the region with River Chenab marking the boundary. 'I hope that India and Pakistan will give a serious consideration to this proposal to end the sufferings of the Kashmiris in particular and of their own people in general and thus materialize the long cherished hope of durable peace in the region,' he told Dawn here. According to the proposal, Muslim majority areas on the right of the Chenab River would go to Pakistan and the rest to India. The prime minister said 'he was inspired by the recent peace initiatives by India and Pakistan to float the idea,' which had been coming under discussion officially and unofficially between the countries since the early 1960s. Stating that he had not specifically called for the partition on religious lines, the prime minister, however, pointed out that River Chenab provided a natural partition of Kashmir into Muslim and non-Muslim population zones. 'If we effect that division, it will be an honourable and amicable solution to the longstanding dispute,' he said. The 'Chenab formula' was for the first time discussed between India and Pakistan in 1962-63, but the negotiations could not make any headway. Of late, the founder of the Washington- based Kashmir Study Group of politicians and academics, Farooq Kathwari, had been working on the plan. According to former foreign secretary Niaz A. Naik, the proposal had been discussed during the unofficial efforts to normalize relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, known as track-II diplomacy, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee 'had also evinced interest in it.' 'This is not a new theory, nor am I the first one to have floated it. Being a political student, I am of the opinion that it is a viable solution,' Mr Hayat said. He pointed out that over the past 56 years, Pakistan could not change the status of Kashmir neither could India satisfy the Kashmiris into accepting its rule over the region despite pooling money and using coercive measures.