Vajpayee-Musharraf had pragmatic approach on Kashmir: Prof Bhat

Vajpayee-Musharraf had pragmatic approach on Kashmir: Prof Bhat

13 June 2012
The Daily Excelsior


SRINAGAR: Former chairman of All Party Hurriyat Conference (M) Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat said today that an environment of grappling with Kashmir situation in a pragmatic manner had been created by Vajpayee-Musharraf interaction and that process could have been carried to its logical conclusion had BJP not been rejected in the general elections in 2004. In a tete-a-tete with Dr K N Pandita, former Director of Central Asian Studies of Kashmir University, Prof Bhat revealed that the formula that had been hammered out by for Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as a head of NDA Government and Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan President, had identified four factors to be brought up for detailed discussion. He identified the factors as self governance with identical governing mechanism in both parts of J&K, demilitarization of Kashmir Valley, making border irrelevant meaning that all routes be opened for free movement of men and material and conduct of trade and tourism, and joint management of economic and developmental resources like river water, trade and tourism, power generation and joint management of industrial enterprises. Prof. Bhat visualized something like Kashmir free economic zone for the Valley while maintaining normal economic and other relations with the rest of the zones. He added that four point Vajpayee-Musharraf formula could remain operative for a specific period of time, say 20 years, after which people could express their final decision about how they wanted to settle their future. However, he added with stress that by that time, things will have changed a lot and perhaps the occasion for asking the will of the people will have got diluted for all times. Prof Bhat said that though the United States (US) was physically in Afghanistan and China was in Pakistan, but there are saner elements in Pakistan who think that ultimately Pakistans interest lie in democratic and secular India and not in China. In that perspective also, he thought there was a new thinking at some important levels in Pakistan. Asked if Pakistan Army, being traditionally the power house of Pakistan would allow Pakistan to embark on normalization of relations with India and agree to a formula like things already mentioned above, Prof. Bhat said that when Mr Vajpayee and Mr Musharraf conducted parleys and zeroed in on the four-point formula, General Ashfaq Kayani was the DG of ISI and he had been taken on board. 'Now that he is the Army Chief, he should have no hesitation or reservation in reopening the process that had been initiated by Mr Vajpayee and Mr Musharraf, he added. When Prof Bhats attention was drawn to the controversy of United Nations (UN) Resolutions on Kashmir, he reiterated his earlier statement that these could not be implemented for technical reasons. 'Article 6 of the UN Charter laid down that the General Assembly cannot enforce any Resolution passed by the Security Council and this was the stand taken by Kofi Annan on Kashmir Resolutions, he said. Moreover, these Resolutions identified only two options and ignored the third option, he asserted. Prof Bhat said 'whatever the causes, like the fall out of 9-11 or uncertainty of Pakistans involvement in more serious domestic problems, or superior firepower of Indian security forces or inevitable realization among the militants of futility of violence, the fact is that the role of the gun has ceased in Kashmir. 'This should prompt us to formulate new thinking on how the discourse on Kashmir issue is to be conducted hereafter', Prof Bhat said. He added that the hindsight showed that for several centuries in the past, Kashmiris remained dominated by powerful potentates just because they were comparatively weaker in strength. 'But that did not take away their tenacity of sticking to their pristine individuality. Naturally we find them a quaint mixture of contradictions. A non-Kashmiri is usually at some disadvantage in comprehending the nuances of this contradiction of sorts in the character of an ordinary Kashmiri. It has often given rise to misunderstandings in his philosophy of social and political relationship with outsiders. In a sense we may say that Kashmiris are a victim of a sort of schizophrenia, he said. He conceded that emotionalism has been the bane of Kashmiri psyche and more often than not, emotions become counter-productive in the dynamics of life and its pragmatism. Citing a practical example, he said that Kashmiris who took up the gun gloated over its 'positive' aspect but lost sight of its negative consequences. 'One would say that we in the valley who took up the gun blundered by leaping into unknown disaster in a state of darkness while another section of our people (Kashmiri Pandits) blundered by leaping into known disaster not in darkness but in broad day light. That shows the construct of our psyche, he asserted. Dealing with Indo-Pak scenario, Prof. Bhat said that since the option of a war between India and Pakistan is ruled out because of nuclear weapon factor, why should not the two countries build bridges of understanding and think of opening new and long era of mutual peace and friendship? 'Real peace is not to be found in streets and market places but in the hearts and homes of ordinary people, he added. Reflecting on regional and international situation that has a bearing on Kashmir, Prof. Bhat said South Asian region has lately emerged as the most strategic and crucial region to the entire world. 'Its significance lies in its huge land mass, strategic location, vast human and natural resources, enormous developmental potential and spacious connectivity. Big powers like the US, China, and, of course, emerging Russia in near future, besides India, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran as regional actors, all are getting involved in strategic complexities of the region, there is every apprehension that any wayward approach to Kashmir issue by the stakeholders could result in Kashmir getting sucked into the vortex of a bigger game. 'This will pose serious challenge to the identity of Kashmir as an entity of historical significance. In that sense we are in a historically crucial period, Prof Bhat added. Coming closer to the Kashmir scenario, Prof. Bhat said that the character of discourse on Kashmir should change on all levels and with all stakeholders. India and Pakistan have a major role and rationalising of relationship between them is the key to the solution of Kashmir issue. Prof Bhat said in an era of dynamics of new global culture, contemporary economic wisdom and re-alignment of geo-economic forces, saner elements in India and Pakistan are concentrating on replacing weapon strategy by trade strategy. 'The process of new thinking is already afoot between them and they are making steady progress towards that destination. In a message to the displaced Kashmir Pandits, Prof Bhat said that the representatives of both communities needed to sit together and discuss all dimensions of the displacement. On his part he would be glad to offer his good offices.