Kashmir Dispute and Mr. Nawaz Sharif

At last the elections in Pakistan are over. Contrary to all the predictions the elections have produced a result which most of the people wished. They wanted to have a strong government which is also sincere in solving the problems of the ordinary people and that of Pakistan. The people of Pakistan have given their verdict, and that is in favour of Mr. Nawaz Sharif This verdict of the people must be respected by all those who believe in democracy or believe in the welfare of Pakistan and the ordinary people.

The Muslim League has won decisively. This is exactly what was required. To solve the serious problems which confront Pakistan there was an urgent need of sincere and dedicated leadership. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, no doubt, is sincere and dedicated leader. His love for Pakistan is beyond any doubts. But he alone cannot meet this challenge, He needs sincere, dedicated and capable team to, be successful; and it is at this stage he needs to be careful.

He wants to select a team, which can identify the real challenges facing Pakiskan. Only when the root cause to the problems is found one can begin to look for possible solutions. Once that is done then he has the majority in the parliament to implement his plans. Some of the most important problems to which he immediately needs to pay attention are:

Many more things could be added to the list, and each topic requires a thorough study. One can also disagree as to which problem should get priority treatment Although I wish Pakistan to have stability and prosperity, but I want the Kashmir dispute to be solved first and that in turn solve many of Pakistan's problems.

The question is how to solve the Kashmir problem. Both Pakistan and India have fought for Kashmir for the past 50 years. Both adopted strategies that resulted in destruction, deprivation and backwardness. In this continued conflict the Kashmiri people suffered most. It is they who are still divided, oppressed, tortured, killed, raped and deprived of independence. Many of Pakistan and India's problems are directly related to this contest to capture Kashmir. If the Kashmir problem is solved that in turn would solve many problems of India and Pakistan, and this would bring peace and stability to the Indian Sub-Continent.

The time has shown that the strategies adopted by both countries were inappropriate, not only they failed to find solution but brought misery and destruction to the region. Both India and Pakistan need to have new progress on this front. The starting point is to accept that Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. It is not 'Atoot ang' as claimed by India nor it is 'Sha Rog' as claimed by Pakistan. Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiri people and they alone can decide its future. India and Pakistan are, of course, parties to the dispute, but it must be remembered that the Kashmiris are the main party.

Second, it must be realised that the use of force has not provided any solution, if anything, it has further complicated the situation. The trend on the international level is to solve disputes through dialogue. I am sure the Kashmir dispute could also be resolved through negotiations, provided we are sincere in resolving it. If we are to adopt this method to resolve the Kashmir dispute then we must take the Kashmiri people in confidence. They should be part of any future negotiations on Kashmir.

We know that there is armed struggle going on in Kashmir since 1988, and we Kashmiris can sit down to analyse what progress we have made. India and Pakistan had armed conflicts over Kashmir, they were not only indecisive but they created more problems to all the parties to the dispute. In other words by use of force alone we cannot be successful in finding lasting solution. We need to sit down with open mind and see how we can bring peace, stability and prosperity to the region. Peace and stability can. only return to Indian Sub-Continent if Kashmir dispute is resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

We Kashmiris welcome and congratulate Nawaz Sharif on his historic success , and hope that during his second term he would take some historic decisions. He must have realised that power come and go, and opportunities are not always available to leaders to make a mark on history. Nawaz Sharif you are luck to win the confidence of the people for the second time, use this opportunity and make a mark on the history by making arrangements that the Kashmiri people can exercise their unfettered right of self determination.

In doing so if Kashmir becomes an. independent state the people of Pakistan will accept that because they do not want the Kashmiri people to be divided, oppressed and butchered for generations to come. I have faith in the wisdom and generosity of the Pakistani nation and I believe what is good for the Kashmir's is good for them. You need to be courageous and have to show the leadership quality required to do the job. Remember it is exactly 50 years ago when the Qaaid Azam showed his courage and wisdom and created Pakistan He left his mark on the history; now it is your turn to do the same and solve Kashmir problem, and this would be the best present to the people for the golden jubilee.

Shabir Choudhry
Director, Institute of Kashmir Affairs
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