Clinton favoured independent Kashmir, says ex-judge
19 July 2007
The News International
Islamabad: Prominent Kashmiri jurist Justice (Retd) Abdul Majid Malik on Thursday revealed that the then president Bill Clinton had in 1993 had prepared a formula envisaging an independent status for Jammu and Kashmir. He told the astonished audience of the Kashmir Conference here at a local hotel that former US president had signed the formula after his foreign secretary of state Madeleine Albrights visit to the occupied Kashmir. The US was forced to go for this measure at the peak of the Kashmiris armed struggle against Indian occupation, with New Delhi desperately looking for an honourable way out, he recalled. Several invitees of the moot, hosted by Kashmir Watch and Asian Media Link, despite confirmation, stayed away from it, and the participants felt their absence was because of the worsening security situation. Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Tahir Iqbal, leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed were conspicuous for their absence. Malik, who is president of All Jammu and Kashmir Liberation League (AK) said that the then Indian prime minister Narasimha Rao had no answer to the formula while the then president Farooq Leghari and ex-premier Benazir Bhutto had rejected it. The jurist who had been visiting India and part of Kashmir under its occupation from time to time, had a series of interactions with Indian experts and Kashmiri leaders and intellectuals. He pointed out that Article-370 of Indian constitution pertaining to the special status of Kashmir was provisional and an Indian president, and not the parliament could call for its deletion. Explaining his contention, the jurist said that Indian experts had in their mind the peculiar background of Kashmir and Jammu and its legal status, therefore, they had a provision in their constitution, but they did not make it a part. The expert said that Kashmiris legal position was very strong and India was also mindful of it. He added that whatever, agreements or accords were signed by rulers of Kashmir or any other state with the British government, stood automatically lapsed after Pakistan and India came into being. Likewise, he said that neither Indian nor Pakistani constitution had any provision of Jammu and Kashmir acceding to New Delhi or Islamabad. It was left solely to Kashmiris to decide about their political future, he added. He strongly urged Kashmiris to draw up a strategy on how to interact with the world community to plead their case, being a genuine one. However, he conceded that after the 9-11 events, US stood with India to safeguard its economic and political interests in the region, but Kashmiris were capable of taking their cause to its logical conclusion. He, however, believed that political and diplomatic means were crucial to achieve the goal. Militancy is irrelevant, when it comes to settlement of the issue, he said. Other speakers from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, including Ghulam Nabi Nowshahri, Khalid Joshi, Shabnam Qayyum, Azar Tamanna, Muzaffar Shah, Mohammad Hussain, M Aslam, Khurshid Mir, Prof Turabi and Shaheen Akhtar of Institute of Regional Studies called for resolution of Kashmir in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people. There were also some proposals, calling for a gradual pull-out of Indian forces from the held Kashmir, substantive CBMs between Pakistan and India, focusing on settlement of the issue. One scholar opposed imposition of any formula on the people of Kashmir, saying this should come from the Pakistani parliament, taking Kashmiris into confidence.