Tuesday, April 19, 2005

KASHMIR: A solution of Kashmir issue

By Muhammad Abd al-Hameed

Unlike the common perception, Pakistan and India can go a long way towards solving the Kashmir issue without any changes in their stated positions. They only need coordination in taking certain steps in the part of the state that is under each side’s control.

The first step towards the solution of the issue will have to be the withdrawal of all military and paramilitary forces from the whole of the Jammu and Kashmir state. (I advocated it in early 1997 in my article, “A way out on Kashmir.”) The two countries can take this step on their own without any legal or political hurdles. India will be withdrawing forces from what it claims to be its own territory. Pakistan will be doing the same at the request of the Muzaffarabad-based Azad (Free) Government of Jammu and Kashmir, which controls the other side of the state that is legally not a part of Pakistan.

The withdrawal of military and paramilitary forces from both parts will have to be simultaneous. The U.N. military observers that are in the state to supervise the cease-fire that took place in 1949 under a U.N. Security Council resolution may monitor the withdrawal of forces. To meet the need, the Security Council may increase the number of observers. After the withdrawal, all U.N. observers may be moved from the Line of Control to the entry points of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan and India to ensure that military or armed personnel from either country do not enter the state.

When the withdrawal starts, all sides will appeal to the militants in Jammu and Kashmir to surrender their arms and return to their homes. All of them should be given general amnesty. In any case, no cause will be left for them after the Indian armed forces leave the state.

Unilateral steps. After all military and paramilitary forces leave the whole of the state, Pakistan and India will take several steps simultaneously, but independently of each other, to remove internal tensions and create calmness. Again, there will be no difficulty because each side will be taking action in the territory already under its own control.

India will impose “the President’s rule,” under which the state government in Srinagar will be dissolved and the Governor will run the affairs. In addition, all political parties will be disbanded and all political activities will be banned, including processions and public meetings. Pakistan will take similar actions simultaneously in the territory under its control.

For the territory under its control, India will appoint a new Governor, who belongs to the state, has no political background and is respected by most people for his integrity, honesty and fairness. He will have a small group of technocrats as his non-political advisers to run the affairs for the next five years.

The administration on either side of the state will set up offices in both India and Pakistan to issue permits to persons or their children, who had to leave their homes at any time after August 1947, to return on production of evidence that they themselves, their parents or grandparents had been permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
The state government will, on priority basis,
a) rehabilitate persons and families that suffered violence,
b) pay compensation to the victims of violence and destruction,
c) revive business, industry and agriculture to create jobs,
d) resettle all persons and families who had to leave their homes,
e) repair electricity, roads, communications and other infrastructure,
f) improve health, education and other services.

Every adult person in either part of the state will be issued an identity card, with his name, name of father/husband, date of birth, identification mark on the body and the residential address. “Jammu and Kashmir” will be added at the end of the address. There will be no mention of any government on the card to avoid any legal complications.

The National Database and Registration Authority, or NADRA, is already issuing national identity cards to Pakistani citizens and has the necessary infrastructure in place with most sophisticated facilities. It may be asked to set up offices in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir to issue computerized identity cards. (India does not have a similarly elaborate system because it does not issue national identity cards to its citizens.)

The travel within Jammu and Kashmir will be free of any restrictions, with the Line of Control turned into a soft border. The only requirement will be to show the identity card as a proof that a person has not come from outside the state. The residents of all parts of Jammu and Kashmir will use the identity cards to travel to Pakistan or India. If a resident wants to travel to a third country, he will get a passport from authorities in Pakistan or India. Instead of indicating his nationality, his passport will merely show that the holder is a resident of Jammu and Kashmir.
To enter any part of the state or cross the Line of Control, the citizens of Pakistan and India will get permits from any of the state’s offices in each country. Easy entry of citizens of Pakistan and India as tourists will help revive the economy of the state. The nationals of all other countries arriving in Pakistan or India on valid passports will not need a permit to enter the state.

There will be a cooling-off period after the withdrawal of all military, paramilitary and armed personnel, with no political activity anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir. The local police will maintain the law and order. No side will allow any violence of any type. All efforts will be concentrated on rehabilitation and reconstruction, as the people pick up the thread of their lives. Tourists will start coming back, reviving the businesses that used to serve them. Pakistan and India will provide all possible assistance to the territory of the state under their control.

As a major step forward, India will withdraw all constitutional amendments, laws, rules and other steps taken against the letter and spirit of Article 370 of the Constitution of India that gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan will also withdraw all legal and other measures that it took against the letter and spirit of its original arrangement with the Azad Government of Jammu and Kashmir. In other words, Parliaments of both Pakistan and India will restore the autonomy of the state.

Joint Council. So far, as pointed out earlier, Pakistan and India will not need to change their stated positions. India may continue to claim that the whole of the state belongs to it while Pakistan may continue to demand a plebiscite in the whole of the state. Now they will need to collaborate with each other for a solution.

Under the original arrangement, India was supposed to control defense, foreign affairs, currency and telecommunications of the part of Jammu and Kashmir that came under its control. Similarly, Pakistan was responsible for these matters of Azad Kashmir.
Since each country considers the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as a single state, their present responsibilities to the respective areas under their control should logically extend to the whole of the state. For example, if India is responsible for the defense of the area at present under its control, it will have no objection to carrying out the same responsibility also for the area under the control of Pakistan. The same will apply to foreign affairs, currency and telecommunications. Similarly, Pakistan will also have no problem in extending its responsibilities to the whole of the state.

As a logical consequence, the two countries will form a Joint Council on Jammu and Kashmir for carrying out jointly their responsibilities on the four subjects. The Council will have two representatives each of the Governments of Pakistan and India. It will take all decisions with consensus. If a consensus is not possible, the members will refer the matter to their Governments for resolution.

There will be few problems for the Joint Council to resolve. There is no possibility of an attack from any other country neighboring Jammu and Kashmir. Even if an attack does take place, both Pakistan and India will respond collectively. Agreements for foreign investment or aid will need prior approval of the Joint Council.

The people of the state may use the currency of both countries. It will not cause any problem. Pakistani currency is already in wide use in Afghanistan and that of India in Nepal. Similarly, the state may have telecommunications links with both Pakistan and India. The imports and exports of the state will pass through either of the two countries. Both countries will provide financial and other assistance.

Election of a single Assembly. The real changes will start at the end of the five-year cooling period. Elections will be held for a single Assembly for the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. The database of identity cards with NADRA will provide the voter lists for the whole of the state. Work will start in both parts on the delimitation of constituencies for elections. The size of the constituencies will be uniform on both sides. Any person registered as a voter will be eligible to stand as a candidate.

The ban on political parties will continue to avoid bitterness, clashes and tensions that the existence of political parties inevitably causes. Every candidate will contest in his personal capacity and concentrate on the local issues and on his ability to represent his people. The ban on public meetings and processions will also continue, with only door-to-door canvassing allowed. The objective will be to avoid any political tensions in the state that may create law and order problems. While the local authorities hold the elections, the U.N. and other international observers will monitor the polling.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will meet in Srinagar. It will elect a resident of the state as the new Governor. He will have to get the votes of two-thirds of the members of the Assembly from each side of the state. The Governments of Pakistan and India will endorse the election and accept the Governor as the representative of the whole of the state.

Since there will be no political parties in the Assembly, there will be no division of the house into the majority party and the opposition. The house will take decisions on all matters collectively. Consequently, there will no need for a Chief Minister and the Governor will also be the chief executive of the state.

Options. The newly elected Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will reflect the wishes of the people of the state. The members will represent their constituencies and will not be under the control of any political party, Pakistan, or India. The Assembly will integrate the two parts of the state and abolish the Line of Control.

It will also pass a resolution, demanding that Pakistan and India hold discussions to formulate options for the future status of Jammu and Kashmir. The possible options for the future status of the state may include:
a) accession to Pakistan or India,
b) continuation of joint control by Pakistan and India through the Joint Council for another five years,
c) U.N. mandate for five years.

The two countries will send their options jointly to the Assembly. The Assembly may approve any of the options with at least 2/3 majority or decide to hold a referendum in the state. Both Pakistan and India will accept whatever decision the Assembly takes.

An important point must not be ignored. If the Jammu and Kashmir state decides that it does not want to have any links with India, it will not be construed to mean the separation of a part of the country. The Government of India may maintain with justification that the state was not a part of the country to begin with when it got independence from the British. The state had not acceded to India by then, unlike all other states that formed a part of India. The accession was to be decided by the people of the state. If the people finally decided not to accede to India, it was their choice under the original arrangement. No other part of India could claim it as a precedent to separate from the country because that will be an attempt against the integrity of the country. Therefore, the resolution of the Kashmir issue will not have any effect on the integrity and internal political conditions of India.

October 30, 2004
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  1. IT is not possible given the reality. ONLY NUCLEAR WAR will decide. no choice. either india or pakistan

  2. Do not despair. Expect progress on the Kashmir issue after Indian elections next month and the change of government in Pakistan about the the same time. India itself is very keen to resolve the issue.

  3. vishvedeep bhat,jammu ,j&k,indiaApril 23, 2009 at 12:21 AM

    what about 7 lakh displaced kashmirir hindus ,they would never live in a independent kashmir or with pakistan as they already have faced much wrath of jihadi elements in kashmir.dont they deserve a part of valley as homeland as muslims of india got in 1947 under supervision of mr jinnah

  4. First of all I wish to congratulate you on this long solution. But the problem is that it is fiction and not realistic based on the past history of India and Pakistan.

    The only possible solution is some sort of LOC to which both Pakistan and India agree. The hope of joining Indian/Pakistani side doen not seem real.

    I live in Punjab side of India and have studied in Amritsar, which is less than 50 kilometers of Lahore on the pakistani side.

    As there is acceptable LOC between Pak and India in Punjab, so there has been less issues and that is why I believe the same should be happening in Kashmir.


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  6. My friend from across the border there are a few mistakes in your "SOLUTION" because the "QUESTION" is not about jammu & kashmir, its just about kashmir. Your solution disregards the instrument of accession signed between the maharaja of "KASHMIR" & our then Prime Minister Nehru under the supervision of governor general of India lord Montbatten & ratified by the U.K. Goverment even to this date. And about the voter identity card issued to us serves the purpose of a national identity card (have the tribals in nwf & baloch all been provided with id's) . Lasty complete demilitarization is impossible considering pakistans track record (baltistan, gilgit, siachen & then kargil).

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  10. great ideas....i want to see some kind of union between india and pakistan like it happend in europe as EUROPEAN UNION...after all we have same common history except last 60 years

  11. Why we can’t go pre-independence state. Let us form a Union of Hindustan + Pakistan + Afghanistan. If we could do that, no one in the world challenge us. If that is not the case and Muslims need a separate country, then all Muslims in India must leave India and go to Pakistan or Kashmir and Hindus in Pakistan go to India and live haply ever after. Anybody think that is going to happen?.... Me either.
    So, what is next? Let us fight and kill each other. Dear friends, until we start to see human beings above and beyond Religion and remove greed from our heart, there is no solution.
    To me the best solution is to accept the ALC and move on. Neither India nor Pakistan can change current situation. The only people who benefit from this tension is the Arms producers. America sells it to both India and Pakistan. China can protect their interest as well. You Indians and Pakistanis, go fight and kill each other. LOSERS.

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  14. Good one fella. What I know and understand for sure is that the partition was a disaster that was planned by British to counter a Unified India's possible rise in strength in long term. They have succeeded, full marks to their long term vision. What I feel bad about is the amount of animosity that has developed on religious lines. I am not sure what the creators of religions wished, but if there is God or Allah or whatever name He/She may be called by, He/She would be really laughing at our stupidity. I like to put He/She as I am not sure of what He would be without a "She" and vice versa. Nature gives not clue about this puzzle, as far as I see it :)
    Kashmir solution has the potential to reach out to a peace process that can really breach the differences between the whole of Islamic and Hindu population/philosophies or geographically the whole of middle east and India, who truly are one single human entity, if not for their artificial self created differences. A number of others may not really like it and believe me, there are many powerful parties who do not want peace to take over the tension as it would counter their chances of superiority.
    Nevertheless, this article was the most meaningful and positive one amongst a ton of crap out there on internet. I wish our voices may get louder and wiser, but I definitely wish we would be good enough to see the goodness in each other's heart and religions, when viewed through the eyes of humanity. May we understand that the humanity created religion and it was never the otherwise. May we understand and appreciate that no one single human created domain can be perfect over the whole geographical, periodic and social entities,as are the religions, which calls from broader understanding and flexibility. I sincerely hope that we would take it as a blessing to have different line of thoughts and philosophies which may be able to address human issues in a better way together.
    As a Hindu, I wish we learn the spirit of oneness with others and the oneness with "in and out", selfless devotion and compassion, abstaining etc and I hope Muslims take the ideas of non-violence amongst humans and animals, harmony with nature, abstain from non-vegetarian stuff and the idea that the whole world is our own home etc. Neither of all Hindus or Muslims follow the listed principles themselves, but then, as a human being, it our duty with the consciousness that we have, to move ahead and climb the ladder of self realization.
    There may be additional suggestions, arguments and counter arguments, but then, that's the part of creativity that Nature has bestowed us with.
    With that my friend, I thanks you for putting your idea for us to go through. I wish we start with a porous boundary in Kashmir and extend that all over our borders. A unified Indo-Pak-Af would show our potential together and why and what we achieved as a society before the rest of world started shedding nomadic life styles. Thanks you.
    For Peace,
    D K Rai

  15. you have wrote your point of view , you may view my views on kashmir issues as well Kashmir Issue

  16. Rai-ji, You, and most Indians, read distorted history of Independence. Congress and Muslim League both agreed to Cabinet Mission Plan, which was to create three zones under a central government. Then Congress backed out and insisted on the creation of Pakistan. Why lament now?
    India never wanted even normal relations with Pakistan (or other neighbors for that matter). It never gave any favor to Pakistan without demanding much bigger one. Over 80 per cent of its armed forces are deployed on the border of Pakistan. It refuses to solve the Kashmir dispute. It never allowed easier visas because it would benefit mostly Muslims on both sides (plus Sikhs). Any talk of even normal relations is meaningless unless India has a change of heart.

  17. pertaining to current situation in pakistan considering the issues of terrorism and may the notion of indians on pakistan approach towards terrorism would never agree for a soft border..coz it's going to effect the security of country...

  18. The plan is not realistic and it means an independent Kashmir, which will soon be occupied by the Taliban, who will kill every non-Musl;ims. India gains nothing from it, only millions of refugees.

    Two Nation Theory is a reality. Thus, a complete Exchange of Population and partition of Jammy & Kashmir according to the demography that used to exist in 1947 is the solution. All Muslims should go to Pakistan and Bangladesh in exchange for the remaining non-Muslims in those countries.
    Kashmir is not the only issue. For Pakistan Balochistan and NWFP are issues. For India, there are several areas where Muslims are predominant; they will also demand independence and in response killings will start; this has to be avoided by all means.