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What is Cooking on Jammu and Kashmir

By Dr. Ajay Chrungoo

Despite glaring uncertainty in Pakistan, the simmering apprehensions about the ongoing peace process with Pakistan have only multiplied in India. Many incidents  in, rapid succession, with profound political implications, have taken place in recent past which cannot be simply wished away.

The senior PDP leader and state finance minister Tariq Hameed Karra claimed sometime back that the state of Jammu and Kashmir will have a ‘separate currency’ after the imposition of ‘Self Rule’. Both Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti have been time and again talking about the usage of 'Double Currency’ of Pakistan and India in the near future in Jammu and Kashmir. Peoples’ Democratic Party chose to release its, first official version of ‘Self Rule’ in Pakistan.

PDP Chief Miss Mehbooba Mufti waxed eloquent about ‘Self Rule’ in Pakistan where she had gone to attend PUGWASH Conference.  She addressed a very high profile press conference with Asif Zardari the patron chief of Pakistan People’s Party. Content of her expositions in Pakistan have serious implications. “In order to achieve a stable, sustainable and just solution to the J&K issue we should combine intrastate measures with inter state and supra state measures…Self Rule proposal is the only way that would eliminate the sources of etheno-territorial conflicts entrenched in the traditional notions of sovereignty, self-determination, national and ethnic borders”. She also enunciated the concept of shared sovereignty by advocating a joint ‘Council of Greater Jammu and Kashmir’. This as per her will require "devising an improved constitutional political and economic relationship between the two parts of state and their respective mainlands with a sign off from the international community”.

 

The NC Chief openly claimed that the Mehbooba, Zardari meeting was facilitated by Indian embassy in Pakistan. GoI chose to remain silent and issued no clarifications. Many now apprehend that ‘Self Rule’ concept of PDP has a tacit approval from Govt. of India.

In the recent past  none other than the National Security Advisor Mr. MK Narayanan said in an interview about the engagement with Pakistan, “ I think there are things in the pipeline, things which are cooking, which are half cooked or three quarters cooked, which we would like to take forward.”  This statement has been one of the most forthright admissions that some sort of final settlement with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir state has been arrived at. And since PDP has been allowed to bring to the public realm various facets of the ‘peace process’ right from its inception during the NDA regime what it is saying now has more to it than political rhetoric in the prelude to elections in the state.

What  is ‘cooking’ between India and Pakistan is more a question on the Indian side. Pakistani leadership both within the government and outside, do not appear to be ignorant about the contours of the final settlement on Jammu and Kashmir being debated between governments of India and Pakistan. The new Prime Minister of Pakistan tried to reject Musharraf line but it will be premature as yet to take it as official Pakistani position.

 

Pakistan President Gen Parvez Musharraf s four point proposal on Jammu and Kashmir has few ambiguities. The four point proposal. “ Self-Governance, Joint Management, Demilitarization and Open Borders.” continue to be debated in Pakistan. Even the separatist leadership in Jammu and Kashmir seems to be very well informed about the contours of the understanding between India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir. The support or opposition to the ‘peace process’ from within the separatist groups seems to be based not on hearsay but very authentic understanding about its contours. The separatist leadership of Jammu and Kashmir is being kept well informed and briefed by none other than the very officials of  Govt. of India itself. An example here will suffice to elucidate the point. To a question on the peace process between India and Pakistan by Sultan Shaheen, the Head of foreign relations Committee of JKLF, Raja Muzaffar responds thus, “......... a senior former Indian civil servant Wajahat Habibullah. known to be close to the Gandhi family told me in a telephonic conversation that while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is very compassionate person and wants to expedite the peace process and give various sorts of relief to Kashmiri people, some hardliners in his own administration oppose some of his efforts. I told Mr. Habibullah that the slow down of the process can prove very costly for in case of Musharraf falling from power, the flexibility in the Pakistani approach may also become a thing of the past...............I had proposed three years ago in a Washington conference on Kashmir that the peace process be institutionalized through a mechanism that includes opposition leaders  in India and Pakistan as well as Kashmiri leaders who participate as basic permanent members. Along with this whatever progress be registered with United Nations so that changes in government in either country do not effect the ground that has been covered.............."

There is a group of Track-II diplomats and journals who seem to be knowing more about Indo-Pak peace process than the political leadership down the line across the political spectrum. Not to speak of general people in India, who are almost ignorant and still believe that unsettled part of Kashmir problem is only liberation of PoK for which Indian parliament has unanimously committed itself through a formal resolution.

Almost all points of formula of Parvez Musharraf in one way or other concern with the sovereignty and integrity of the nation in Jammu and Kashmir. It is true that government of India has not still crossed the thresh-hold of unambiguity on the nature of understanding with Pakistan and is still preserving some manouverability of retreat and plausible deniabiliy. However the confidence in the commitment of government of India to uphold the integrity and sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir as well as deny any further concessions to Muslim identity politics in Jammu and Kashmir, is gradually eroding. There are three main reasons for it. One, Govt, of India has allowed the internal dialogue in the form of Round Table Conferences and Working Group Meetings to be used to push through recommendations and measures which ultimately give a decisive direction to the future course in Jammu and Kashmir. This course seems to be complimentary to four point formula of Musharraf The stage appears to be getting set for demilitarization, joint management and creating porous borders in Jammu and Kashmir. Many WG recommendations have been designed for this very purpose. The measures which are being taken have an executional value and at present do not require legislative sanction of the Parliament of India. Security forces number is being brought down in the state and the state forces are being enormously increased to take their place. The travel across LoC will be conducted on the basis of state subject document; borders are being made porous for trade as well as travel; the joint management particularly of water resources, trade and tourism is being accorded a new legitimacy in public discourse in the state for a operational phase in the near future. Creation of a Free Trade Zone with double currency in Jammu and Kashmir is the new buzz slogan for almost any seminar or debate on the economic development with government agencies playing facilitators.

Second, Govt, of India is gradually seeking to delegitimize its own actions against terrorist violence in the state. It has allowed the government actions in the state to be equated with militancy. The WG on Confidence Building Measures chaired by the now Vice President of India recommends on the agenda issue, ‘ Measures to improve the condition of people affected by militancy’ as “ The necessity of curbing human rights violations was stressed by most members of the WG. Emphasis was placed on PM’s assurance of zero tolerance for HR violation as for India's international commitment and intrenational image. It was considered imperative to develop responsibility for specific HR violations can be fixed and derelict officials identified and proceeded against.” There is not a single recommendation under this agenda about how to tackle terrorism. Infact the word 'terrorism' is almost absent in the entire report of the WG.. The last recommendation on the same issue seeks review and revoking of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Disturbed Area Act. The government itself chooses to side track the issue of terrorism and equates its actions primarily as militancy in the state.

In his package to displaced Kashmiri Hindus PM treats the displacement as if it was a natural disaster like flood or earthquake. The package seeks to delegitimise religious cleansing which must have only pleased Pakistan and the separatists.

And lastly, the gradual induction into the state of such officials. administrators and academicians who have a proclaimed commitment for a sovereign or a semi-sovereign Jammu and Kashmir state along the lines proposed long back by Dixon, puts GoI approach in proper perspective. Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, who is presently the information Commissioner is actually acting as a defecto interlocutor on behalf of Government of India in the state. He is openly on record of expressing views on J&K  which are closer to US position when Dixon enunciated his formula for solution. None other than PM of India invited him to address the crucial Working Group on Centre-State Relations. Sometime before his presentation, he had publicly stated, “.....the absence of element separatists has definitely affected the success of Round Table Conference. It is like the British having a RTC without the nationalists...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 Telangana."

Wajahat openly equates separatist leaders with the freedom fighters of India. He openly equates the separatism in Kashmir as a national struggle of Kashmiris. It is pertinent to understand his brazen pro-US and Pro-Pakistan advocacy. In one of his papers he states, incentives to encourage India and Pakistan to settle their differences peacefully can likewise take various forms, from helping Pakistan modernize its armed forces to securing foreign investment for economic revitalization of Jammu and Kashmir.” Mr. Wajahat advocates five regional Assemblies/Councils for Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir, one for Kashmir valley, two for Jammu region and two for Ladakh. He puts forth a developmental arguments to divide Hindu majority Jammu to separate its Muslim majority areas into a separate administrative and legislative unit. His proposal coincides with the Dixon model seeking settlement of J&K along the Chenab river. The model also coincides with the seven region formula of Parvez Musharraf.

Wajahat is not an isolated case. Mr Haseeb A Drabu declared support to “Independent’ Jammu and Kashmir openly on a TV channel. And after few days, he was appointed Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Bank and Economic Advisor to J&K Govt. An expert on Strategic Affairs Mr. C Rajamohan sometime back wrote an article in a leading English daily commenting on the developments in Pakistan and lamenting the inability of Govt, of India to carry ahead the Indo-US Nuclear deal. Towards the end of this write up he poses a question that if India cannot carry forward the Nuclear deal, how could it have the “gumption’ to go ahead with the peace process with Pakistan and China which necessarily involves ‘territorial concessions.’ What is cooking on Jammu and Kashmir? 

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

  

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