'Kashmir self-rule proposal involves Pakistan'
4 March 2006
The Daily Times
New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig has said that self-rule discussed at the recently concluded round-table of Kashmiri leaders convened by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh here also envisages the involvement of Pakistan in the larger political package offered to the people of the state. Addressing a party rally in a border town of Jammu region, Baig who also attended the round-table said there was a basic difference between the maximum autonomy formula as put forward by the National Conference (NC) that involves return of 1953-status and the self-rule being propounded by his People Democratic Party (PDP), an ally of ruling Congress-led coalition in Srinagar. “Self-rule would be part of a larger package addressing both the external and internal dimensions of the Kashmir issue with the involvement of Pakistan, while the autonomy proposal deals only with the administrative relationship between New Delhi and Srinagar,” he said. Baig said a historic opportunity is round the corner for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. He asked the parties concerned to grab this moment to usher the region into an era of peace, progress and prosperity. Deputy chief minister said the flexible and reconciliatory approach of the leadership of India and Pakistan has offered a great opportunity to work-out an amicable solution of the Kashmir issue in consultation with the representatives of the people from all the three regions of the state. He said there was a need to address the intra-state issues as well before the final solution in arrived at. He said, though both autonomy and self rule devolve from the Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the difference between the two proposals is that autonomy resolution passed by the National Conference government in 2000 calls for scrapping of all the central laws extended to the state right from 1950. His party, the PDP is of the view that laws that have strengthened the democratic institutions should be retained. Baig also said his party was advocating a free trade zone for Jammu and Kashmir with open borders, to make it a bridge between the South and Central Asia.