Try Irish Formula In Kashmir: Salman Khurshid
10 October 2004
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Sunday suggested that India should study the Irish peace agreement so that it can try to replicate it to resolve the Kashmir issue, arguing that the 'all or nothing' approach by either side was impractical. Former foreign minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha supported this suggestion. Addressing the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Conference on inter-state conflicts in the region, Khurshid, while enumerating several contemporary models of successful reconciliation, suggested that 'the most rewarding exercise would be to examine the IRA peace agreement'. Sinha's speech at the same conference echoed the idea of a South Asian Union defined by soft borders. He said while India was ready to make concessions to other South Asians in the field of trade and commerce, there could be no compromise in the area of national security, urging the neighbours to be sensitive to these concerns. Elaborating on the Irish model, Khurshid expressed the view that the softening of borders, as in the case of Ireland, could make nationalist concerns less dominant, and the feeling that the Kashmir issue was a fight for territory irrelevant. 'The Irish model has not been studied... For India-Pakistan, the particular aspect of boundaries becoming progressively irrelevant is most interesting,' he said. Khurshid sniffed a possible solution in the gradual erosion and consequent irrelevance of territorial boundaries. He also drew on the example of the European Union (EU). 'The growth of the EU as a supra-national identity with the attendant practical conveniences, the common market, easy travel across frontiers, etc, had a psychological impact that made ethnic-nationalist concerns less dominant. The traditional sense of nationalism and territorial sovereignty can be 'tempered with a sense of participation in a greater enterprise', Khurshid said. Former union minister Jaswant Singh told the SAFMA conference that India and Pakistan would have to learn and relearn to live together to face the challenges of the 21st century. He said the conflict in the sub-continent could be explained in terms of missed opportunities, errors of judgement and the colonial overhang in policy making. 'We're victims of a system we adopted in 1947 without much thought. We need to break free,' he said.