September 2006 News

Governor sees solution to Kashmir issue emerging

16 September 2006
The Hindu
Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Governor S. K. Sinha has said that the contours of a settlement of the Kashmir problem 'appear to be emerging' with Pakistan giving up its insistence of a plebiscite and the Centre not being rigid on discussing the issue with a foreign country. Kashmir was a 'dangerous hotspot of the world,' and its people were tired of violence and yearned for peace and prosperity, he said. 'The ongoing confidence-building measures and composite dialogue with Pakistan as well as talks within Kashmir with people of all shades of opinion, hold out promise for the future. The contours of a future seem to be emerging. Pakistan has given up insistence on plebiscite and U.N. Resolutions. India too has given up insistence on Kashmir not being an issue of discussion with any foreign country. Line of control 'Pakistan has declared that the LoC [line of control] in Kashmir should be made irrelevant allowing free movement of people from both sides. India has also stated that LoC be made a line of peace with free trade from both sides, without altering national boundaries. We are moving towards a South Asian Economic Union like the European Union. That can lead to burying the hatchet of the past, and the two countries fighting unitedly against the common enemies of poverty, ignorance and disease. This can usher in peace and prosperity for the people of Kashmir,' he writes in the foreword of a book Solving Kashmir written by former Army officer, Lt. Gen. M. C. Bhandari. The former Army officer is of the opinion that Pakistan would have been successful in wresting Kashmir from India had it delayed its invasion in 1947 by 15 days. 'The Maharaja [of Kashmir] had entered into a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan to give him some breathing time before taking a final decision. Pakistan on the other hand, was getting impatient with the delay by the Maharaja in taking a decision. She unleashed a tribal invasion in the Valley on October 22, 1947. Had Pakistan waited for 15 days or so, the whole story would have been different. With the onset of winter and snow, the Banihal pass would have got blocked. Srinagar airfield was a grass fair weather airfield which became unserviceable in winter on account of snow. India would not have been in a position to intervene militarily in the Valley. Thus, the dithering of the Maharaja and the impatience of Pakistan contributed to the emergence of the Kashmir problem in its present form.' Terming Pakistan's point of view on Kashmir 'simplistic.' Lt.Gen. Sinha concedes that it found ready takers in the West and the Muslim countries because it suited the agenda of the Western powers in the Cold War era when India was viewed as aligned with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).


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