‘Pakistan must stick to Kashmir stand’
14 December 2005
Lahore: Pakistan must stick to its principled stand of granting right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the UN resolutions. This was a consensus at a meeting of the Kashmir Action Committee of Pakistan held to discuss various options to solve the Kashmir dispute at the auditorium of Aiwan Karkunan-i-Tehrik-i-Pakistan here on Wednesday. KACP president Justice Sharif Husain Bokhari (retired) was in the chair. Former foreign minister Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali hoped that the dispute would be resolved within four or five years. He said right to self-determination was the best solution. Pakistan should not dilute its stand and must continue to stick to it. It was India and not Pakistan at whose behest the UN had adopted resolutions for holding a plebiscite in Kashmir. And later India backed out of its assurance. If the right to self-determination was in the interest of the Western countries, they would favour it but not in case of the Third World countries. He said India was opposing any solution on the basis of religion fearing that it would have serious repercussions in other parts of the country and a process of Balkanization might start and it might meet the fate of Yugoslavia. Indian fears were genuine but the fact was that religion had been the basis of the partition of the subcontinent. He said various options for the solution like the demilitarization, United States of Kashmir and self governance were coming from Pakistan and the US think-tank without any response from India. India’s stand that its foreign office had not received any such proposals in writing from the foreign ministry of Pakistan and it could not respond to mere statements given by Pakistani leaders. He said on Kashmir policy there was divergence of views between President Musharraf and the Foreign Office. Pakistan’s diplomacy had lost its credibility. He said ongoing dialogue between Pakistan and India had produced no worthwhile results except symbolic CBMs. Sardar Assef said military options taken by Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris had failed to solve the issue Pakistan by taking military action in Kashmir in 1948 and 1965, India deploying about a million of its troops in Kashmir to suppress the freedom movement and the Kashmiris’ armed struggle against India during the past 16 years. Then how the Kashmir dispute could be solved when India was insisting its sovereignty over Kashmir territory was not negotiable, he asked. He said India was lacking political will to solve the dispute. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation League president Justice Abdul Majid Malik (retired) said Pakistan’s new options on Kashmir regarding self-governance and Mir Waiz Omar Farooq’s proposal of United States of Kashmir were vague. He said a number of formulas to solve the dispute had been put forward by Pakistan and the Kashmiri leaders during the past two years without taking the people of Kashmir into confidence who were suffering for the past 58 years. He said LoC was an interim arrangement and the people of Kashmir would never accept it as a permanent border. There was a wide gulf between the views of the Kashmiris and their leaders on how to solve the dispute. Most of the India held Kashmiri leaders moved with Indian intelligence cover and had little contact with the people. He said no decision should be taken without the consent of the people of the state who would never accept division of Kashmir. Any decision imposed on them from outside or division of Kashmir would not be acceptable to them nor would guarantee permanent peace in the state though their movement would be temporarily subsided. He dispelled the impression that Jammu was a Hindu territory. If religion was the basis of a solution then the Buddhists of Laddakh would like to join Tibet, a Buddhist country. Former Senator Dr Javid Iqbal said all new options were coming from Pakistan and meaningless. He said the proposed United States of Kashmir should not include Northern Areas which were part of Pakistan. As far as self-governance formula was concerned, there was great difference between the constitutions of both Azad Jammu and Kashmir and occupied Kashmir. While the former was an independent territory with its own parliament, high and supreme courts the latter was a part of India with a special provision in Indian constitution that guaranteed its autonomy. India had not given its constitutional autonomy to Kashmir. He said Indian leaders were not prepared to make religion a basis of Kashmir solution whereas this was the very basis of the partition of the subcontinent and military action to annex Hyderabad, Junagarh, Manawadar, Goa, etc. India claimed to be a secular state like the European Union which was not allowing Turkey to become its member being a Muslim country. He said the only solution to the Kashmir dispute was implementation of UN resolutions. Pakistan had been extending the Kashmiris all help at UN and diplomatic levels and it should continue to do so. All talks about new options like self-governance, United States of Kashmir and demilitarization was meant to hoodwink the people, he added. AJK PPP president Sardar Khalid Ibrahim said allowing the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination was the only solution that could ensure permanent solution of the issue. He said the US could arrange elections in Iraq and Afghanistan even after its invasion of the two countries then why was not possible to accept the principle of self-determination for Kashmir that had been laid down by the UN resolutions. Even before the UN resolutions Lord Mountbatten had declared that the people of Kashmir had a right to decide their future. Brig Zafar Iqbal (retired) said new options had been suggested by the US, which had become a party with India. The only solution to the Kashmir dispute lay in giving right to self-determination to the people of the state. KACP president Justice Bokhari said there could be peace in South Asia without the solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state. He said the UN had already adopted resolutions that determined the parameters for the settlement of the dispute. The new options of self-governance, demilitarization and United States of Kashmir needed a debate by the Kashmiri and Pakistani leaders. He said self-governance had been proposed to give autonomy to both parts of Kashmir as an interim measure till the permanent settlement of the dispute. He supported the proposal of United States of Kashmir as he thought it would be a federation of existing provinces of the state with greater autonomy. Maj-Gen Rahat Latif (retired) said there was no harm in negotiating new options with India. Maj-Gen Najeeb Ahmad (retired) said while Pakistan was showing the maximum flexibility India’s stand had been rigid throughout the period of process.