January 2006 News

Musharraf floats joint management plan for Kashmir

9 January 2006
The Dawn

New Delhi: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has proposed a joint management by India and Pakistan for the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, a move that would leave both countries with reduced sovereignty over the territories they now control. Gen Musharraf told CNN-IBN news channel in an interview staggered over three days ending on Monday that he had discussed this and other related ideas with the Indian leadership, while back-channel interlocutors and diplomatic resources were also tapped to engage New Delhi in the discussions. He was disappointed at the lack of any response. Gen Musharraf said he did not agree with India’s claim that there already was self-governance in the held Kashmir, and claimed that “most of the people don’t accept the Indian government in Kashmir… If India believed there was self-governance, we keep sticking to this position, we will never move forward because we do not agree. Therefore, if you want to move forward, we have to leave stated positions.”  He explained that his concept of self-governance “falls in between autonomy and independence.” The exact details and intricacies of it need to be worked out. “I am there to propose a strategy and idea. Now the tactics and the modalities of what is self-governance need to be worked out.” International experts or even representatives from India, Pakistan and Kashmir could be involved in defining the scope of self-governance. Asked to flesh out his idea of self-governance, Gen Musharraf said it would involve bringing both sides of the disputed region under a joint India-Pakistan management. That would guarantee self-governance for Kashmir. “Joint management would be a solution which we need to go into. Now I know that I am treading in very sensitive areas. And I know that the Indian government would comment on it that I give ideas through the media. Unfortunately, I also give these ideas always to the leadership also,” Gen Musharraf said. “I believe in confidentiality. I believe that things should be covered till we move forward. But unfortunately a year has passed and we still keep things under wraps. We don’t come out openly. I don’t go along with this kind of strategy or theory. A time has to come when leadership on both sides have to come out in the open and discuss ideas.” Giving a clue to his idea of joint management, Gen Musharraf said “We need to have a system where the Kashmiris, the Pakistanis, the Indians are involved in monitoring the self- governance that we evolve. There have to be subjects which Musharraf floats joint management plan are devolved, there have to be some subjects retained for the joint management.” Asked to comment on the quantum of sovereignty that both countries would retain  and part with over Kashmir if his idea of joint management were to be implemented, Gen Musharraf said “That sovereignty is reduced. Okay. That sovereignty gets reduced because when we give self-governance that sovereignty that you are talking off, in a sense you are saying certainly gets reduced. Yes, I agree with it.”  He had been “passing these ideas on to the Indian government, to the Indian leadership, directly, indirectly, through back channels and through all kind of channels,” Gen Musharraf said. He denied Indian claims that some of these ideas  were merely mentioned by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz but never got around to being discussed officially. “This is absolutely wrong. Let this not be said again by anyone. Whoever has been involved in this knows that I am speaking the truth that we have given these ideas. My disappointment is that I would like the confidentiality to remain but my disappointment is that months and years are passing and we are not moving ahead,” Gen Musharraf said. Asked if these ideas were discussed with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York, Gen Musharraf  said yes. It was then that Gen Musharraf offered the idea on demilitarisation which was rejected by India on Saturday. This proposal too was not new but one that was made to the Indian leadership earlier, he said. “Let me propose it here that let us take three important towns of the Valley, Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla. Let all military move out of these cities to the outskirts and we ensure that there is no militancy inside. Pakistan will be with the Indian government, with the Kashmiris to ensure that there is total peace and tranquillity within these three cities. Look at the comfort that will come to the people. It does not need any constitutional amendment. It does not need anything. It just needs an administrative order.”

 

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