Settling Kashmir issue By Dr. Mubashir Hasan

Dawn, April 21, 2005
Settling Kashmir issue
By Dr Mubashir Hasan

A win, win, win solution of the issue of Kashmir is feasible - a win each for Pakistan and India and a win for the people of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. Each of the three can settle for more than what they now have in real terms.

The sole mention of Kashmir in the Constitution of Pakistan is: "When the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and the State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State".

Pakistan considers the entire territory of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir as an area under dispute. It does not recognize the Indian jurisdiction over any part of the former state.

However, Pakistan has taken the position that any solution of the dispute which is acceptable to the people of the former state is acceptable to Pakistan. It no longer insists on the enforcement of those parts of the resolutions of the United Nations which would have resulted in the entire state either acceding to Pakistan or India.

General Pervez Musharraf has declared that neither the conversion of the Line of Control into an international border nor independence for the state is acceptable to Pakistan.

Since Pakistan considers the former state of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory, it does not claim sovereignty over any area of the state. The area Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir has its own president, parliament, prime minister, supreme court, high court and other institutions.

It has wide internal autonomy. On behalf of the government of Azad Kashmir, Islamabad is responsible for defence, foreign affairs and immigration questions pertaining to the area.

In such a situation, if a solution can be found which gives Pakistan a certain status in the territory now under India's control and makes legal certain aspects of its authority in the areas lying to the west of the Line of Control, it would be a net gain for Pakistan.

India claims sovereignty over the entire territory of the former state. However, along with the government of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan exercises control over certain areas of the former state which lie to the west and north of the Line of Control.

It is generally believed that should Pakistan and Azad Kashmir agree, India would accept the Line of Control, with minor changes, as the international border - that is, relinquish its sovereign claim over what is with Pakistan and Azad Kashmir as of now.

New Delhi ceded parts of its sovereignty to the state legislature in Srinagar under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. It is generally believed that India is prepared to enhance the autonomous status of the former state as long as it does not amount to independence.

Declared Prime Minister Narasimha Rao of India in 1995: "Independence no, autonomy, sky is the limit". The declaration has been reaffirmed recently by Kanwar Natwar Singh, India's Minister of External Affairs.

In such a situation, if a solution can be found which gives India a certain status in the territory now under Pakistan's control, in lieu of conceding wide autonomy to the state as well as giving Pakistan a certain status in the part of the state now under India's control, it would be a net gain for India.

Apparently, people in large numbers in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir do not wish to be ruled either by India or Pakistan. They would like to be independent. However, neither India nor Pakistan is ready to consider this option as a solution to the dispute.

The opinion in the international community also does not seem to favour the emergence of a new independent state in the region. For the time being, those who are for complete independence may consider fulfilling their aspirations to the extent of the widest possible autonomy. That will be, indeed, a big change in their favour from their present status. The win, win, win solution may be based, therefore, on the following premises:

DEFENCE: Authority to defend a territory with armed might is one of the basic tenets of the exercise of sovereignty. Let India and Pakistan continue to be responsible for the defence of the borders of the former state against any power as they do, and at places they do, today.

India's de facto authority as it exercises today along the Ladakh border becomes de jure. Pakistan does the same along the Khunjrab border in a legally recognized manner. If they wish they may form a consultative body on defence matters of which the government of the state may also be a member.

India and Pakistan agree to enter into a treaty with each other that the two countries shall not prepare for or wage war in the territory of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In so agreeing, the need for defending the Line of Control along almost 800 km ceases to exist and the way is cleared for the withdrawal of their forces stationed along this line.

India and Pakistan agree that the former state shall reunite as an undivided entity. This agreement shall fulfil one of the basic nationalist aspirations of the people of the former state.

The state of Kashmir pledges not to build an army of its own and India and Pakistan agree to relinquish the role of their armies of coming to the aid of civil power in the state. These undertakings shall strengthen the internal autonomy of the administration of the state, much to the relief of the armies of India and Pakistan.

No longer required along the Line of Control and to act in aid of civil power, India and Pakistan agree to withdraw their armies from Kashmir except from the borders of Kashmir with China.

FOREIGN RELATIONS: At present the foreign relations of a part of the former state are conducted by Pakistan and of the other part by India. In the proposed solution, India and Pakistan may jointly be responsible for those aspects of relations which affect the security interests of either country including those of foreign investment, aid and grants. The state may exercise authority in establishing ties with other states in commerce and trade and other matters with the agreement of Pakistan and India.

ACCESS AND TRADE: Citizens of Kashmir acquire the right of entry and of doing business in Pakistan as well as India as if they were citizens of India and Pakistan as well.

The communication, transportation, educational and other infra structural facilities of India and Pakistan may be available to Kashmiris without any discriminatory restrictions.

The produce, manufactures and services of Kashmir should have access to the markets of India and Pakistan without any duties or charges; similarly, Indian and Pakistani produce, manufactures and services should have free access to the markets of Kashmir.

The citizens of India and Pakistan are able to travel throughout the former state without let or hindrance. Since the sights of the two countries are on a visa-free regime within the Saarc areas, a beginning with removing travel restrictions with Kashmir may prove to be auspicious.

These measures will be a big gain for India and Pakistan and an economic boom for the state of Kashmir. The currencies of Pakistan and India may be made legal tender throughout the former state.

PASSPORTS: Passports issued by the state of Kashmir have the status of those issued by the state before 1947. Visas issued by Pakistan and India to be valid for Kashmir.

INDUS WATERS: The status and validity of the Indus Basin Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan remains unchanged.

AUTONOMY: Subject to the foregoing, the legislature of Kashmir, by whatever name called, may exercise full autonomy.

FINANCES: Pakistan and India agree to give substantial budgetary support to the state government for the next 20 years. Pakistan's security will be greatly enhanced.

From the northern and central parts of the Line of Control, Indian army positions will move far away to the east. The need for defending the Line of Control along almost 800 km ceases to exist. Pakistan's defensive position at the Chinese border will remain unchanged.

Pakistan will not only legally acquire certain aspects of sovereignty now available to it in the areas to the west of the Line of Control, but also enhances its status in the areas to the east of the LoC.

Pakistan's right to travel and trade in the entire state and its right to defend the Khunjrab border will acquire legal sanction. The citizens of Pakistan will be free to travel and trade in the areas of the state hitherto inaccessible to them.

India's security concerns will be well protected and its right to defend the Laddakh border remain intact. The need for defending the Line of Control will cease to exist.

Citizens of India will be free to travel and trade in the areas of the state not accessible to them so far. Kashmir will become almost independent with a friendly India and a friendly Pakistan on its sides. The unity of the state will be restored.

It will acquire an identity as an autonomous unit in South Asia. Its defence against China, India and Pakistan will stand guaranteed without any budget expenditure on its part. The Kashmiris will become almost citizens of the three domains.

The gains for Pakistan, India and Kashmiris will be a true gain for South Asia and, indeed, for the whole world. The spectre of nuclear war will be lifted forever. The long-term prospects of peace and prosperity will be greatly enhanced.

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