‘Dialogue On Common Ground Only Solution To Kashmir Issue’

7 November 2009
The Indian Express
Zahid Rafiq

New Delhi: Mainstream political parties of J&K and separatists came together looking for a solution to the Kashmir issue at a conference in New Delhi on Saturday. The dialogue, the theme of which was “Multi-party Dialogue on Political Future of J&K”, was organised by the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies and chaired by jurist Ram Jethmalani. It included participants from the mainstream, the separatist camp and the civil society, who discussed the future of Kashmir and reached a consensus for a middle ground. What they concluded was - autonomy and self-rule were the realistic and pragmatic way forward. PDP leader and former finance minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig discussed the party’s self-rule document in detail. “We cannot change borders but we can make them irrelevant and reach a solution through dialogue,” said Beig. The National Conference’s theory of autonomy was presented by Mohammad Shafi Uri. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said after accession to India in 1947, instead of expanding, the space for Kashmiris had shrunk after all its borders were closed and people lived in a constant feeling of mental and physical siege. “Our graveyards have swelled and that cannot be washed away with new roads. We will have to take concrete steps to correct our wrongs,” she said. Senior separatist leader and chief spokesman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference Abdul Ghani Bhat said they were ready for a dialogue with the mainstream parties. “Guns can never win a war against a collective memory of discontent and the solution must come through dialogue on a common ground,” he said. JKLF chief Yasin Malik who was also present said the Indian society had failed to deliver on ground in Kashmir and had only diluted the issue. “Now, we are discussing Panchayats and regional issues and have lost our view on the Kashmir problem, which every Kashmiri inherits at birth,” said Malik. Representing the Centre’s view, senior Congress leader Saif-ud-Din Soz said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has an open mind and the Congress would facilitate a solution. Kapil Kak, representative of the Kashmiri Pandits, reiterated the community’s demand for establishment of a truth and justice commission to look into cases of human rights violations against Pandits and others.