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Friday, May 26, 2023

Assessing the political reality of Kashmir dispute

According to Justice (r) Syed Manzoor, the continuance of the Kashmir dispute is a good feed for both Indian and Pakistani politicians, but it is fatal for the two countries, the world at large, and the people of Kashmir in particular.

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Indian media speculates some change in the political structure of the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, be it the restoration of the statehood minus Ladakh as promised, with minimum autonomy like other nine Indian states of India under Articles 371A to 371K of the constitution of India or restoring democratic government through election for which high-level delimitation commission meetings are in offing (in which Farooq Abdullah significantly hinted to participate) or it may be still worst to bifurcate the identifiable Muslim majority areas in small Union territories or please the Kashmiri Pandits to create a separate abide for them as PUNUN KASHMIR, as India is unpredictably stiff on Kashmir.

However, India is running very short of options on Kashmir now and if there is any understanding with Pakistan on restoring normalcy by restoring statehood pre august 2019 position, it may not go to any other extreme.

Read more: India’s foreign policy having trouble handling Kashmir & China

Except for Sajjad Lone, the first regional leader from the Kupwara district, Farooq Abdullah of the National conference carries the GUPKAR declaration partners along who demand statehood with pre-1953 autonomy.

Some of Mahbooba Mufti’s(PDP leader) lieutenants have formed their “APNI party,” with their allegiance to Narendra Modi Govt, while Sajjad Lone, the first lieutenant of Narendra Modi- has parted ways, but all are in unison for restoration of statehood and robbed autonomy.

Even the national parties, except BJP and its outfits, equally support statehood and restoration of its autonomy. Whether they would be able to achieve it before elections are held or jump into the fray with false assurances, as usual, is yet to be seen.

Read more: Freeing Kashmir the only way to boost Pak-India ties?

Mistrust in political institutions

Resistance movement is suppressed under severe restrictions on movement, assembly, speech, processions, political activities and, on gunpoint, but could not be curbed and none of Kashmir based political parties be it congress CPI or autonomy seekers within India and their leaders could be so far lured or induced to accept the status quo.

Prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan is showing undiplomatic flexibility on Kashmir that, “no normalization with India till pre 5th August 2019 position is restored,” (although the right to self-determination is the issue, not this.) He has gone a long step back in an interview with Reuter to suggest that India should give a road map for this (India needs to be understood in the backdrop of its national policy).

Read more: PM Imran Khan reminds UN of its commitment made to Kashmiri people in 1949

While Army chief, a major and effective player in security apparatus in relation to policy towards India, has managed to cease fire on LOC, going on successfully and has admitted that back-channel diplomacy on Kashmir is ongoing between security chiefs of India and Pakistan but our own house has to be set in order as Mian Nawaz Sharif (MNS) was accused of “DAWN LEAKS” having said Apneen Munji Tulla Dang marna.

It seems there is a division of business between the political institutions of Pakistan.

Whatever the position, India is a tricky negotiator especially with Pakistan on Kashmir. India wins in every relaxation by Pakistan and Pakistan loses. India is leading in policy and talks by a politically and democratically groomed civil and political bureaucracy, not by establishment alone. They do matter but as stakeholder advisors.

Read more: Pakistan made a strong case that India is a “state sponsor of terrorism”

Pakistan struck the balance only under the political leadership of Bhutto in 1971 through the Simla agreement and MNS twice when Atal Bihari Bajpai bowed on Meenar -i- Pakistan and Narinder Modi on his house. No other has ever brought dividends, be it in Tashkent, Agra, Delhi, or the four-point formula. It requires political skill and independent grooming of policymakers and negotiators, not with servitude ranking.

A deal with India is desirable and inevitable but with political consensus and establishment backing. For this, confidence in the nation needs to be inculcated, then a political vision should be developed. It would guarantee its success. Mistrust in political institutions is a general impression and it is a political and ground reality.

Read more: Op-ed: Pakistani politics may be more banal than its analysts make it out to be

Convergence in sight?

Independent minds with a global view, grasp upon historical and geographical events of the world, particularly in relation to Pakistan – India, and Kashmir history, not under any influence or hope of favor from seniors and superiors can deliver better.

The government may follow the legal course on accountability gracefully and in accordance with law and fair play but should also accept the essence of political forces in the resolution of issues confronting Pakistan. India is always high jacking the flight because of political disorder and economic weakness of Pakistan which leads to diplomatic crash of its image.

PM was not right to curse the diplomats’ failure in his speech to them without admitting the credibility and image crisis of the governments/ state of Pakistan. Similarly, his utterance that Pakistan can progress without trade or normalization with India is equally devoid of merit because our military budget leaks tremendously on our defense against India and Indian-led Afghans.

Read more: Any move by India will be met by a nation that is ready to defend itself: PM…

India will still not desist from its hegemonic designs but there will be no cause if irritants, the toughest of which is Kashmir, are resolved.

Similarly, our politicians and agencies will have no reason to play Kashmir and Indian cards to malign their opponents and pollute the political atmosphere leading to economic decay, consequently diplomatic image at large.

India and Pakistan seem to be converging somehow. This can be supported by prime minister Imran khan’s statements on Narendra Modi and his wish to see him elected in relation to Kashmir before his election.

Also, after the onslaught on Kashmir in August 2019 to declare that no normalization with India without restoring status-quo ante and, COAS’s open statement to bring our own house in order and normalize with neighbors in behind the curtain conversation with leading journalists followed by successful cease-fire on LoC at military operation level support the impression of convergence.

Read more: India, Pakistan agree to restore ceasefire along disputed Kashmir border

Ground realities

I see a unison understanding of Kashmir. If all this is with a tacit understanding, Pakistan must place all issues with India in one basket for a composite deal that emanates from Kashmir alone, except Sir-creek, LOC violations, Siachen occupation, water disputes, and the future dispensation of the state itself on both sides.

The latter has to be with the consensus of local leadership of Kashmiris with the spirit of permanent pacific settlement whatever the mode, referendum, negotiation, arbitration, etc. These are alternatives to a plebiscite proposed by UNCIP decades ago which were overtaken by an international tide of events.

Read more: PM Imran Khan reminds UN of its commitment made to Kashmiri people in 1949

Kashmiris must also understand the ground realities of aspirations of all regions under Indian and Pakistani control and now China is the active player in Ladakh Valley. Kashmir alone cannot liberate the whole of J&K from three big powers at the cost of their life, liberty, honor, generations, and that too when all other regions have diverse political and ideological approaches on the ground. Kashmiris have led and are leading but without other takers, there is no state of J&K but KASHMIR valley alone.

Need for a solution

In my perception, neither India nor Pakistan can concede even a single inch of territory to others from territories of state in their control. But they can bring peace and promote peaceful coexistence by acknowledging ground realities for the settlement of the dispute.

They can also free besieged people of the valley and its adjacent areas of Pirpanjal and Chenab valley in a manner that they feel they are free and matter.

Similarly, AJK & GB, practically governed by Pakistan, should feel that they are a political reality and their rights matter. How long shall they be kept hostage to the resolution of the dispute as a whole, without interim relief subject to final settlement?

Nations keep on drafting and redrafting social contracts without a solution in sight.

Read more: Will India-Pakistan LOC peace lead to Kashmir solution?

The continuance of the dispute is a good feed for politicians on both sides but fatal for two countries, the world at large, and the people of Kashmir in particular.

Justice (r) Syed Manzoor Hussain Gillani retired as the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court of AJK. He was educated in Srinagar, occupied Kashmir, and migrated to AJK in 1976; can be reached at manzoorgillani@hotmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.