Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taking forward the K-issue

That all "CBMs would go waste in case the Kashmir issue is ignored", is an indication enough for players in the Indo-Pak peace process to bootstrap themselves. Even though efforts from both sides are on, an amicable solution to the issue still appears far-fetched. "…What the final settlement is, should be, or can be, remains unclear. But that should not worry too many people because making the endgame clear is not a plus in a situation where the protagonists are still trying to break a new ground as well as break out of old mindsets," says Pakistan's leading daily Daily Times.

Both India and Pakistan had announced a slew of initiatives on Kashmir like demilitarisation and turning LoC into a permanent border. Much to the neighbours' discontent, none of them worked. The paper says that a better strategy would be to bring Kashmiris to the 'forefront. "The good strategy, however, is to bring the Kashmiris to the forefront, not only because it is their problem but also because the two sides can withdraw from their maximalist positions by pushing the Kashmiris upfront." While separatists say that Islamabad must recognise Kashmir as a "disputed" territory, New Delhi believes that it is an integral part of India. India's National Security Adviser had said last month that it is considering a dialogue with Jihadi militant groups.

And very recently, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan SS Menon said: "We are ready to talk with everybody and there are tremendous flexibilities within the Indian Constitution, which permit us to do this". However, the paper feels that talking under the purview of the Indian Constitution is a "non-starter". "The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (both factions) and the militant groups do not accept constitutional legitimacy over Jammu and Kashmir. For them therefore, the issue of talking to India under Indian Constitution is a non-starter," Daily Times explains. The fact that India wants to reach out to Kashmiris and at the same time maintain a tough stance on borders also gives out a strong message according to the paper. " …This means that it (India) wants to fudge the issue of political sovereignty while trying to create a mechanism that can allow greater freedoms to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,"

Moreover, if India wants to enter into a dialogue with the Jihadi groups like United Jihad Council (UJC), it has to make Pakistan a party in the talks. Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest terrorist group in Jammu and Kashmir had declared a ceasefire and started peace talks with the Centre in mid-2000. But the talks broke down almost immediately because New Delhi refused to include Pakistan in the dialogue. The terrorist groups want Pakistan to a part of a three-way dialogue besides New Delhi and political separatists. Pakistan has welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer of a "treaty of peace, security and friendship" to replace decades of hostility between the nuclear rivals. But there has been no response to his offer from the United Jihad Council, which is headed by the Hizbul whose leadership is based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
(Written on April 04, 2006 for HT)


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