US understands India on Kashmir, says Jethmalani
9 November 2002
The Times of India
WASHINGTON: There is now a sea change in the way the United States views the Kashmir issue including an implicit recognition of India''s position, according to Ram Jethmalani, Chairman of the Kashmir Committee. Jethmalani, who is currently in the United States discussing the issue with a wide range of American experts and analysts, including state department officials, told Times News Network in an interview that Washington''s understanding of the issue and developments on the ground suggested that it was now a propitious time to resolve the dispute. ''As far as India and the United States and India are concerned, we are in a state of mutual agreement,'' Jethmalani said, while declining to elaborate over how and in what way Washington had changed from its traditional position that all of Jammu and Kashmir, including parts held by Pakistan, is disputed territory. The Kashmir Cell chief held informal discussions on Thursday with state department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, and soon after said he ''sensed a change in the administration on Kashmir.'' Little has changed in the State Department''s guidance books about Jammu and Kashmir (being a disputed territory), but US officials lately have openly backed elections held there, endorsed the process and the results as free and fair, and urged New Delhi to build on it to arrive at a permanent settlement. While the administration has not disavowed Pakistan''s claim to be a party to the dispute, there is noticeably less enthusiasm about Islamabad''s stand following a sharp decline in its credibility because of repeated transgressions. Jethmalani said he urged administration officials and experts to impress upon Pakistan that ''India''s title deed on Jammu and Kashmir, both legal and moral, are impeccable.'' ''A dictator cannot use democratic arguments like plebiscite and referendum,'' India legal light who is now acting as a political broker said. ''India has restored democracy in J&K.'' ''Musharraf also cannot get at the peace table what he could not win by war,'' he added. Jethamalani said the time was now ripe for a solution that abjured extreme positions on all sides. That meant giving up ideas like secession and also abrogation of article 370 that gives the state special privileges. New Delhi on its part should also declare a general amnesty to release all prisoners who publicly eschew violence and hold direct talks with those who took part in the elections and also those who did not.