Lone proposes economic union of Kashmir
6 January 2007
The Daily Times
New Delhi: Sajjad Gani Lone, chairman of his own faction of the Peoples Conference, on Saturday unveiled a document calling for an economic union of the divided state of Kashmir with India and Pakistan exercising limited political sovereignty over the parts they currently control. Sajjad Lone, the younger son of late Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone, said his 248-page proposal, titled Achievable Nationhood, was a blend of various models used to settle territorial issues across the world, including the Hong Kong model and the Good Friday agreement in Ireland. Lone said that while Pakistan had in recent statements expounded what could be acceptable to it as a solution to the Kashmir dispute, India had restrained itself to indicating what was unacceptable to it. There is, however, continued ambiguity over the levels of institutional sanctity to the emerging Indian and Pakistani postures of flexibility, he said. The document calls for full executive, legislative and independent judicial powers and economic sovereignty for both sides of Jammu and Kashmir. This includes a separate customs territory with its own corporate laws, banking rules and tax structures. Further, the two parts of the state should have the right to engage with each other as well as with India and Pakistan. The document says its long-term objective is to convert Jammu and Kashmir into a neutral, de-militarised and peace zone. A single economic entity would mean free flow of capital, trade, services, labour, says the document. It argues that economic operations across the LoC and the removal of barriers to movements would be profound visible indicators of change. The document proposes that both Indian and Pakistani currencies be made legal tender and goods produced in this economic union have non-reciprocal duty-free access to the Indian and Pakistani markets.