US ''secret'' plan favours minor adjustments to LoC in J&K
30 May 2000
B L Kak
New Delhi: America''s ''secret'' plan, favouring minor adjustments to the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir before its classification as an International Border, has at last become an open secret. The plan has been discussed in New Delhi and Srinagar by the US President, Mr Bill Clinton''s ''friend'', Mr Mansoor Ijaz. Mr Ijaz, who is chairman of the New York-based Crescent Equity Investment Bank and a member of the Council for Foreign Relations, was in Delhi and Srinagar during the second week of May. Mr Ijaz''s arrival in Srinagar was not without significance, considering the fact that, before him, US Senator, Mr David Bonier, undertook political journey to Kashmir in late April, when he, among other engagements, had discussions with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, and some top leaders, including Mr Umar Farooq, Mr Abdul Ghani Lone, Mr Abdul Ghani Bhat and Maulvi Abbas Ansari. That Mr Mansoor Ijaz was an ''emissary'' from the US President was borne out by the choice of operations employed by the authorities in New Delhi and Srinagar. In fact, higher-ups in the official machinery conducted the US-based visitor in secrecy and laboured quite hard to ensure that his meetings with various leaders and officers remained a secret. And all those who had quiet meetings with Mr Mansoor Ijaz, adopted ''mother-knows-best'' policy and kept the mediamen at bay. And even as Mr Ijaz was given top level official access, none of the officials and political leaders could get a clearance to make public even the mode of transport the US-sponsored visitor was provided from New Delhi to Srinagar. No wonder, top officials, particularly Lt Gen Krishan Pal, Corps Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, and Mr Gurbachan Jagat, Director-General of J&K Police, were found tight-lipped even after their separate briefing sessions with Mr Mansoor Ijaz. Clearly, their unpublished interaction with Mr Ijaz was a ''privilege'' rarely granted to foreign nationals other than high-level diplomats. After his meetings with top officials and politicians, Mr Mansoor Ijaz had an important engagement in Srinagar on May 10: He was the guest at a dinner hosted in his honour by the J&K Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, at his Gupkar Road residence. A functionary of the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) told EXCELSIOR that the security personnel assigned to Mr Ijaz were not told anything about the visitor other than his first name. In fact, Mr Ijaz''s nationality and purpose of the visit to the Valley were kept a guarded secret. Even as extraordinary secrecy was maintained throughout Mr Mansoor Ijaz''s visit to Srinagar and New Delhi, knowledgeable sources, one of them a Ministerial colleague of Dr Farooq Abdullah, said that the US President''s ''friend'' (Mr Ijaz) had sought responses to ideas for minor adjustments to the Line of Control in the event that its acceptance as an International Border could be secured. Mr Clinton''s ''friend'' has also been reported to have discussed several proposals for granting wider autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, including proposals made by the US-based Kashmir Study Group(KSG) for the creation of a quasi-independent Kashmiri State carved out of the Muslim majority areas of J&K. Apart from his close contact with Mr Clinton, Mr Mansoor Ijaz is a major campaign finance donor to the Democratic Party. Mr Ijaz, sources said, also discussed in New Delhi and Srinagar the mechanism being employed for starting a dialogue between the Government and leaders of Kashmir''s All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). By the time he was out of Kashmir at the end of his ''political journey'', a disturbing element was injected into the situation with the assassination of Kashmir''s Minister of State for Power, Mr Ghulam Hassan Bhat. The episode was followed by threats to Kashmir''s former Chief Minister, Syed Mir Qasim. Mr Qasim''s ''fault'' is that he has, in recent days, engaged himself in the task of paving the way for talks between the Centre and the Hurriyat leaders. According to intelligence reports, Mr Qasim has, following ''unwritten orders'' from a terrorist organisation to give up his role as ''an Indian agent'', decided to go slow. According to one school of thought, as anti-India militants and subversives in J&K have in recent days intensified their terrorist activity, a dialogue with Hurriyat leaders and other opposition groups in the State may do little to address the core issue of violence in Kashmir.