May 2005 News

Mubashir calls for 'win-win' solution to Kashmir issue

23 May 2005
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: Pakistan's former finance minister Dr Mubashir Hassan called for working out a 'win-win' solution to the complex Kashmir issue so that all relevant parties - India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir - are at an advantageous position.Presenting his paper on 'Settling the Kashmir Issue' at the Observer Research Foundation, an Indian think-tank, before a gathering of Indian intellectuals including academics, former governors, diplomats and defence officials, Dr Hassan advocated giving as much autonomy as possible to the people of both Indian and Pakistani controlled Kashmir.Many here believe that Dr Hassan reiterated what President General Pervez Musharraf had been saying - that a solution needed to be found that was a compromise to the stated positions of the two countries.Dr Hasan said that although all of Jammu and Kashmir belonged 'legally' to India, in reality it had no control over some parts of the state. Likewise, Pakistan had no legal rights to control what it called Azad Kashmir. And Kashmiris wanted an independent state, which no country in the world was in favour of, Dr Hasan said.In this scenario, Dr Hasan suggested giving Jammu and Kashmir as much autonomy as possible with India and Pakistan maintaining troops to protect borders and foreign policies and the rest would be taken care of by the Kashmiri people. They could have their own passport and currency too, he said.Dr Hasan said he was advocating this kind of autonomy to troubled regions in Pakistan like Balochistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province as well.'Why should the central forces, either in Pakistan or India, get involved in civil matters in different regions?' he asked. The people should manage their states, he said. He said that Pakistan had no political interest in the movement in Kashmir initially, but later on some elements had given a religious colour to the movement, culminating in jihadis taking over it. He suggested strengthening the ongoing peace process by creating soft borders and removing restrictions on trade, travel, tourism and other areas. Though the audience expressed mixed reactions, Dr Hassan found strong supporters of his views in former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey and former governor and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Girish Chandra Saxena. Others called for treading the path carefully to avoid any assault on the ongoing peace process.Muchkund Dubey called for urgent steps to resolve the Kashmir issue. 'Not only Pakistan, but even India is losing heavily because of Kashmir,' he said. He said Jammu and Kashmir should not be considered as any other state of India and instead be solved as a special case.'The solution should be acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it should be a realistic solution,' he said.Dubey said that because of the lingering issue, India's stature in the world community had gone down to the extent where no Indian could think of becoming the United Nations Secretary General or adorn any other high post in the world.Former Jammu and Kashmir Governor GC Saxena said that Dr Hassan's paper was a 'comprehensive, conceptual, timely and worthwhile presentation.' However, he said, there was a need to come up with a solution that was within the realistic parameters of both countries.Saxena said deviation from the traditional position on Kashmir needed broader national consensus on the Indian side. 'I am all for treating Kashmir as a special case. But, it will have a direct impact on other parts of the country, like separatist movements in Nagaland and Manipur,' he said. He appreciated Dr Hassan's suggestions of providing sub- autonomies and matching democratic space on both sides of the Line of Control.Another former governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Jagmohan, emphasised on first creating the right atmosphere in the state. 'Once the terror of the gun is removed, the people will start speaking differently,' he said.Jagmohan stressed on eliminating terrorism and re-orienting the thinking on Kashmir from the religious base to providing effective governance.'In the poor state of Jammu and Kashmir, people are not bothered much about religion. What they want is good governance and facilities for leading a decent life,' he said. He said there was a big difference between the religion and culture.


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