Finally, A Realistic Solution By The Kashmiris For The Kashmiris
30 September 2005
Karachi: The Manmohan-Musharraf summit in New York last week, on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session cannot be termed a failure just because the joint statement read out by the Pakistani President did not contain any promise on the part of India to reduce troops in the held Kashmir and withdraw from the Siachen heights. Since the launching of the bus service across the LoC, the Kashmir issue seems to have already acquired its own dynamism and momentum independent of the ongoing composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. The joint communiqué issued after the just concluded 'heart-to-heart' talk between the leaders of the two Kashmirs in Srinagar is a clear manifestation of this development. The communiqué has urged the two governments to consider reducing the level of deployment of military and paramilitary forces on both sides of Kashmir. It has also asked all concerned to avoid all types of violence, recommended exchange of elected representatives, establishment of intra-parliamentary forum and underscored the need for review of the hostile propaganda against each other. And with so much happening on the Kashmir peace front, Pakistan's continued public insistence that CBMs and the negotiations on Kashmir should progress in tandem, now sounds more like a rhetorical refrain than an essential condition for advancing to next stages of peace talks or even for progressively moving towards establishing meaningful bilateral economic ties. The commencement of ferry service between Karachi and Mumbai, the expected resumption of Rajasthan-Sindh railway link, and in-the-offing agreement on open skies between the two countries are expected to force the momentum on the bilateral economic front which in turn would render obsolete most of Pakistan's objections to giving transit trade facility to India. The break-up of Hurriyat (promoted by Pakistan), the earlier visit of the breakaway faction to Islamabad (permitted by India) and then its meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, the current visit of prominent politicians from Azad Kashmir to the Indian Kashmir for a heart-to-heart encounter and the expected visit soon of representatives of elected government in Srinagar to Azad Kashmir and to Pakistan are developments that are likely soon to throw up a new kind of reality in the region. Already, a new way of life is taking roots inside the two Kashmirs with the reunion of divided families following the opening of the LoC for travel. And now with what seems to be the first ever get-together in Srinagar of politicians from the two disputed territories, new political realities are likely to germinate in due course of time replacing for good the old reality of total disconnect between the two and the urge on the two sides to change the ground reality by use of force. Hurriyat leader Mir Waiz Omar Farooq has already offered what he calls the United States of Kashmir formula for resolving the conflict. Kashmiris on the two sides have started debating the formula. This debate over time could lead to a consensus formula which, the majority of the politicians on the two sides of the LoC would find largely acceptable. One would like to believe that when the Kashmiris themselves would propose such a formula for a permanent resolution of the issue the two neighbours, India and Pakistan who have been fighting it out for all these 57 years over Kashmir would find it increasingly difficult to continue to stick to their so- called stated positions. In fact, they would perhaps find it politically more convenient to be guided in their respective Kashmir policies by what the people of Kashmir want and say. And of course, it would be easier for India and Pakistan to sell to their respective people a consensus formula arrived at by the Kashmiris rather than one cobbled up by the two by making compromises on their respective stands on the issue.