Considerable Kashmiri goodwill for dispute resolution
11 March 2006
The Daily Times
Islamabad: There is considerable goodwill among Kashmiris in the Indian and Pakistani parts of the region to bring about a settlement to the issue, a press release following a conference on Kashmir said. The conference – Kashmir after the quake prospects for peace and reconstruction – was jointly organised by the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution and the Jamia Millia Islamia and was held on January 16-17. The October 8 earthquake offered an opportunity to extend the peace process, but was “vitiated by Pakistan’s refusal to allow substantive Indian assistance”, the release said. “The Pakistani and Indian governments fritter away opportunities by being at cross-purposes most of the time – Pakistan drags its feet on CBMs (confidence-building measures) and India on discussing frameworks for a Kashmir solution,” it said. It said that the region is at a stage in which a mutually agreed solution, based on self-governance and demilitarisation in its widest sense seems possible. Self-governance The release said that the discussion on self-governance is just beginning and there is little clarity on what this would entail in practice. “It is not clear what form discussions should take, because there are three distinct approaches (a) The GOI (government of India), GOP (government of Pakistan) and different Kashmir groups seek to find a mutually acceptable solution by agreeing that self-governance will combine earlier freedoms (pre ’52 in Jammu and Kashmir, pre ’49 in Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas) with cross-LoC (Line of Control) institutions,” the press release said. (b) “The GOI, GOP and different Kashmiri groups seek to find a permanent solution, also based on self-governance and cross-LoC institutions. (c) The GOI, GOP and different Kashmiri groups seek to bring militant groups on board the peace process, through negotiations on self-governance and cross-LoC institutions. Such a solution has the best chance of segueing from CBM to interim solution to permanent one,” the release said. About the Northern Areas, it said that there were groups in the region that wanted self- governance as part of Kashmir, and others that want to “unshackle” themselves from Kashmir. “Ladakh clearly wishes some degree of self- governance within the Indian federation, while some parts of Jammu are divided on the issue of what relationship they would want to Srinagar and what to New Delhi. The same can be said for the valley. Recognising this, most of the ‘azaadi’ groups would prefer ‘constructive ambiguity’ in an interim solution to a permanent or constitutional settlement,” the press release said. However, most of the mainstream political groups in Jammu and Kashmir would prefer a permanent rather than interim solution, it said. Roadmap The press release said that the “missing track” in the current dialogue on Kashmir is the way to end violence, although “ad- hoc” measures are being taken in this regard. “... the GOI-GOP cease- fire is lasting, and the Hurriyat and other azaadi groups are trying to persuade armed groups to enter a cease-fire. These activities are below the radar though, and efforts for movement on this track clearly lag behind the progress on CBMs and political negotiations,” the release said. Demilitarisation and ending the violence The release said that there is a consensus in Kashmir civil society that cessation of hostilities by armed groups must accompany troop reduction or relocation, and must be moved up on the agenda for discussion. “While J&K Kashmiris of every opinion agree that the human rights situation is improved, they are concerned that human rights abuses have not come to a full stop,” it said.