September 2006 News

Solarz Offers Kashmir Solution

16 September 2006
The Nation

Islamabad: Stephen Solarz, once known as India's best friend in the US Congress, has written an article in which he shares his views upon the Kashmir issue and even suggests a solution for this issue. Solarz had set up the India Caucus in the Congress and he was instrumental in setting up a South Asia Bureau in the State Department but he had got into trouble on account of some technical irregularities relating to his personal cheques and he lost his Congressional constituency on account of a delimitation exercise. Solarz became an unofficial lobbyist for India after he left Congress. Following are the excerpts from an article written by him: The United States should put together an international consortium of countries to create a robust, $10 billion Fund for the Future of Pakistan, akin to the program we developed for Europe after World War II. We should also offer Pakistan something it urgently desires- a free trade agreement with the United States. Hopefully, such a package would be sufficiently attractive to the Pakistani people to enable Musharraf to overcome the political opposition to the steps he would be obligated to take for Pakistan to qualify for the assistance on offer, and to persuade Musharraf to take the political plunge into the uncharted waters of full cooperation against terrorism and a complete commitment to the democratisation of his own country. It would be expected to establish effective control over the madrassas to make sure they provide legitimate religious as well as secular educational opportunities, and cease their efforts to generate recruits for jihadi campaigns. It would be expected to make AQ Khan available for interrogation by American or IAEA investigators, to determine the full scope of his proliferation activities. It would be expected to close down the terrorist training camps on its territory and terminate the material assistance it continues to provide the jihadists operating in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Without meeting these conditions, which would have to be certified by President Bush and the leaders of the other countries involved in the consortium, none of the trade and aid benefits on offer would be made available. But such a 'grand bargain' must be accompanied by a reinvigorated US and international effort to resolve the Kashmir problem. After all, the Kashmir dispute has driven Pakistan's support for terrorist movements in the subcontinent, and has led Pakistan to engage in activities that not only continue to threaten war with India but which also have prevented the stabilization of the security situation in Afghanistan. If the Kashmir conflict could be resolved, it would eliminate any justification for Pakistan to continue supporting the jihadists in Kashmir and Afghanistan while also facilitating a return to the barracks by the military who continue to dominate the politics of their country. But how to resolve the Kashmir conflict? The fact that the plebiscite would not give the Kashmiris a choice of independence, even though a majority might well favour such an outcome, does not seem to have troubled Pakistan. From the perspective of New Delhi, any plebiscite that could lead to a decision on the part of the Kashmiri people to depart from India would run the risk of exacerbating separatist tendencies in other parts of India and could conceivably lead to the disintegration of the Indian Union. It would also generate an anti-Muslim backlash throughout India. The only realistic way of resolving the conflict between India and Pakistan over the future of the territory is to convert the existing Line of Control into an international border leaving 'Azad' Kashmir in Pakistan and 'Jammu and Kashmir' in India. A settlement along these lines would necessarily have to include Pakistan's cutting off support for terrorist organizations fighting in Kashmir, followed by a major drawdown of the Indian security forces currently deployed there. It would also require fully implementing existing provisions in the Indian constitution that grant autonomy to the State of Kashmir and the establishment of a 'soft' border between India and Pakistan so Kashmiris on both sides of the current Line of Control can visit and do business with their kinsmen on the other side. There is every reason to believe that most Indians would be willing to accept such a formula. On the Pakistani side, Musharraf himself has all but flatly admitted that a plebiscite may no longer be a realistic way of solving the problem. Pakistan today is balanced precariously between two worlds. It's time for more forceful American leadership to tip that balance toward peace, democracy, and a full partnership in the struggle against terrorism.


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