Kashmir borders along Line of Control may be softened: Indian official
20 July 2007
The Daily Times
Washington DC: The present boundaries in Kashmir, claims one of Indias point men on Kashmir, will remain, there being an increasing recognition for settling the issue on that basis and making the borders soft to permit trade and tourism. Wajahat Habibullah, an Indian civil servant who served for over two decades in Kashmir and is currently engaged as a back channel negotiator in promoting Indian government efforts to resolve the issue on the basis of a softened status quo, said in an online interview to CounterCurrents.org earlier this month that the preferred term today for the Line of Control is present boundaries. He explained, Within the framework of the constitutions of India and Pakistan, the people of the state will try and bring maximum self-government that is achievable within these systems. These principles need to be discussed and not become the bases for killing each other. Therefore, there is a general retreat from the idea of using violence. He said young Kashmiris are highly dissatisfied, while the moral fibre of the Kashmiri society is in complete disarray. There are increasing cases of suicide and retreat from traditional moral values. He said the kingpins of the once stable Kashmiri society were the women. They were also the kingpins of the insurgency, virtually leading it. However, at present they are the group that is highly discriminated against and marginalized. There is no role for them even though they are the strongest resource base for peace. The negative elements were kept under check only because of the women. All sections including the police have victimised them. As for Pakistan, Habibullah claimed that the mirage of Pakistan stands broken especially after the latest developments there. There is increasing disillusionment with Pakistan, he added. The separatists, he argued are not dangerous to New Delhi and India should not be afraid of the separatist trend. New Delhi fears the aspirations in Kashmir as it has a Muslim majority population. However, the Kashmiri aspirations are the same as that of a Tamil for Tamil Nadu, a Kannada for Karnataka and a Telangi for Telengana. However, Kashmiri aspirations do not even converge with what the people feel in Doda, Poonch or Rajouri. This suggests that it is a very regional aspiration. The Indian system is well accomplished to deal with such regional aspirations. Still we fear it because of years of suspicion, he stated. According to Habibullah, the sympathy for Pakistan is declining. There was always a small group that had pro-Pakistani aspirations but this was never in a majority.