October 1999 News

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US think tank draws up new Kashmir map

5 October 1999
The Asian Age
By Seema Mustafa

NEW DELHI: A US think tank, the Kashmir Study Group, has come out with a long paper complete with detailed maps of a new Kashmir entity or entities, each with its own government and constitution.

The paper suggests that the tehsils of Kashmir proper, Doda district, Gool Gulabgarh in Udhampur district, Poonch and three northern tehsils of adjacent Rajauri could be made part of the new autonomous entity or entities acceptable to both India and Pakistan and "the people of Kashmir."

The Kashmir Study Group, which functions as an advisory body to the US state department, claims that the new detailed proposal is based on responses received from opinion makers, including government officials, in both India and Pakistan. The responses were invited on what the group refers to as the Livingston proposal, "Kashmir: A way Forward," details of which were printed by The Asian Age earlier.

The US think tank maintains that the responses were positive towards the creation of a Kashmir entity. Former bureaucrats and defence officers were involved in the preparation of the draft proposal of which has now been concretised into three options: Two Kashmiri entities on either side of the Line of Control, one entity straddling the LoC, or just one entity on the Indian side of the LoC. In all the three options the proposed entities have their "own government, constitution and special relationship with India and/or Pakistan."

The proposal, under discussion at different levels in both the countries, seeks to identify areas in Jammu and Kashmir which would like to be part of the new Kashmiri entity. The identification is on the basis of religion and "Kashmiriyat." Kargil is also included in the list of districts but the paper adds that "though this group too has interacted closely with Kashmiris their desire to join a Kashmiri state cannot be assumed.

On the Pakistan side, the paper presumes that "what is now Azad Kashmir would opt to have sovereign status more or less equivalent to that of the Eastern Kashmiri state." But the Kashmir Study Group which is more categorical in listing the supposed preferences of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, hesitates to make the same presumptions for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, stating. "It is presently difficult to gauge the wishes of the people of the region and we have therefore not attempted to distinguish varying regional degrees of desire for a new political dispensation."

The paper, while providing for a single Kashmiri state "with the concurrence of India and Pakistan," states that this would be more difficult than the other option of two Kashmiri entities on either side of the LoC. The Living stone proposal had envisaged the new entity with the its own citizenship, flag and legislature with full jurisdiction on all matters other than defence and foreign affairs. India and Pakistan would provide for the defence and foreign affairs. India and Pakistan would provide for the defence of the Kashmiri entity would be required to maintain its own police for internal security purposes.

The new proposal goes into details about the religious, language and territorial profile of the region it is dealing with. It also goes on to question the existing Line of Control as "dysfunctional" and without any inherent logic. It proposes territorial exchanges between both India and Pakistan "to enhance regional security." This involves 11,815 square kilometers of territory.


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