Mukherjee briefed on ‘Swiss model’ for Kashmir
8 January 2007
New Delhi: Of the various models for Kashmir doing the rounds on the seminar circuit in recent weeks, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was briefed on Monday about yet another — aSwiss model — by former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah. Mr Mukherjee, whose agenda for his first visit to Islamabad at the weekend has been cleared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is holding consultations with people who may offer a concrete thing or two to make the tour a success. In his talks with Mr Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, who heads the disputed state's pro-India National Conference party, Mr Mukherjee is reported to have discussed a special economic zone for the divided region along the lines of Switzeralnd and Channel Islands. Press Trust of India said the meeting was originally scheduled for Sunday, but could not be held earlier as the National Conference was having a meeting of its Working Committee. It assumes significance as Mr Omar Abdullah, a former junior foreign minister, was accorded a one-to-one meeting with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf during his visit to Pakistan last year, PTI said. Mr Abdullah asked the Indian foreign minister to work out a mechanism with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri for removing various lacunae so that travel by the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote bus services could become easier and hassle-free. “He sought Mukherjee's personal intervention in ensuring the return of hundreds of Kashmiri youths who had crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and were now willing to shun the path of violence,' PTI said. The Swiss model had figured earlier in November 2004 in the context of a visit by Tehreek-i-Insaaf leader Imran Khan to New Delhi. At the time Mr Farooq Abdullah had favoured a 20-year moratorium on the Kashmir issue to normalise India-Pakistan ties. He had differed with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan who reportedly suggested a Switzerland-type of status for the state. Mr Khan had emphasised the need to ascertain the wishes of “genuine Representatives” of Jammu and Kashmir who could be chosen through “free and fair elections under UN supervision in the entire undivided state in demilitarised condition.” “For a solution to the Kashmir issue, we can look at Switzerland where people of different ethnicities live in an autonomous and proper democratic set-up. Kashmiris may like to have such a system,” he had said. Click to learn more...