T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Inaugural Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

May 2002

 

I N S I D E

Spotlight    Chalmers Johnson

Editorial

Special Report Sundeep Waslekar Ilmas Futehally

Fundamentals Jagan Kaul

Book Review Romeet Watt

InsideTrack          Dr Subash Kapila

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White An Assessment

Statecraft             S a p r a   says

Bottomline           Dr Subash Kapila

 


A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k

D i s c l a i m er

C o p y r i g h t s

 S P E C I A L   R E P O R T

 

Reshaping the Agenda in Kashmir

By Sundeep Waslekar,  Ilmas Futehally


International Centre for Peace Initiatives (ICPI), has been involved with the Kashmir issue since 1995. ICPI has visited Jammu and Kashmir a few times in the last nine months, to interact with Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, officials of the security forces, leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, editors of local newspapers, university professors and representatives of all the major communities in the state- Muslim, Pandit, Gujjar, Pahadi, Dogra and Buddhist. At the same time, ICPI undertook research on peace processes all over the world to assess the relevance of some of them to Jammu and Kashmir. The report Reshaping the Agenda in Kashmir is a result of brainstorming sessions in the state, as well as scholarly research in peace processes world wide.

 

The report points out that all recent peace agreements in the world, except Yugoslavia, have been based on the sanctity of existing borders and lines of control. It therefore recommends that it is perfectly feasible to find a solution with the line of control as the basis. It urges simultaneous actions on three fronts- resolution of conflict, reconciliation and reconstruction. The following is the summary of recommendations.

 

Recommendations 

 

The following recommendations are based on ICPIís mission to Srinagar in the last week of August 2001, a conference of scholars from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh hosted by ICPI at Jammu in January 2002, and an intensive study of international experiences. These recommendations are based on the assumption that urgent and serious steps need to be taken to improve the condition of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who should be at the centre of any effort to resolve the conflict in the state and to strive for a new society. They are premised on the proposition that simultaneous efforts must be made for conflict resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction. It is not necessary to wait until the conflict resolution process is complete for reconciliation and reconstruction. At the same time, reconciliation and reconstruction should not be treated as substitutes for conflict resolution. We recommend a simultaneous action on all three fronts. 

Resolution
  • The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has reached a mutually hurting stalemate, though it is not recognized so by the parties to the conflict. Even though Indiaís military has not reached a stage of fatigue like the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian state has reached the threshold of political and diplomatic costs. It is essential that the Indian state, as well as the militants, engage in negotiations instead of extending the conflict on the ground.

  • Pakistanís stated policy of renouncing the use of its territory to promote terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, announced by President General Musharraf in January 2002, provides a fresh opportunity. It is important that this policy is implemented sincerely on the ground. If indeed it is proved to be so, India should respond constructively by opening fresh dialogue with the Government of Pakistan.

  • The forthcoming state elections in Jammu and Kashmir in September/October 2002, provide another opportunity. Prime Minister Atalbehari Vajpayee has made a public commitment to ensure free and fair conduct of elections. It is essential that this commitment is honoured. It is also essential that all Kashmiri leaders, including the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, take advantage of this opportunity to seek the mandate from the people to represent them.

  • The newly elected state government of Jammu and Kashmir should appoint a negotiating team to negotiate the future of the state with the Government of India. The negotiating team should include alienated Muslim groups, such as Hurriyat representatives and also representatives of the Pandit, Gujjar, Dogra, Pahadi, Ladakhi Buddhist communities.

  • Efforts should be made to integrate the Muslim, Pandit and other communities in a plural society as per the tradition of Kashmiri society, instead of creating separate enclaves for different communities and regions. Peaceful co-existence must be the Kashmiri future.

  • Most modern peace agreements have been based on a sense of overwhelming international consensus, as embodied in the South Tyrol agreement, accepting the territorial integrity of existing states and offering maximum guarantees to minorities within them. It is essential that the South Tyrol approach be accepted as the basic framework for exploring the solution to the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. The only major peace process based on change in existing borders of the state was the break-up for former Yugoslavia. It is essential that lessons are drawn from the human tragedy in the Balkans and South Tyrol principles are strictly abided.

  • Since every peace process is normally accompanied by spoiler violence, it is important that the pursuit of peace is not given up on account of continued acts of terrorism by some elements.

  • For a peace process to be inclusive, there should be several different tracks of dialogues between India and Pakistan, Indian state and Kashmiri groups, Jammu and Kashmir state government and Kashmiri groups, Hindu Pandit and Muslim communities in the state, and also between Kashmiri groups from both sides of the line of control.

  • Like all peace processes in recent years, a peace process in Kashmir should be based on principles of commitment to exclusively peaceful methods, compromise, negotiated settlement and as recommended in Esquipulas II, ban on the use of one country as the base for terrorist attacks on the other. The objective should be the victory of principles of peace and justice over the principles of terror and coercion and territorial and political solutions should be instruments of serving these basic objectives.

  • In the Middle East, Jordan abandoned its claims over the West Bank and Egypt did not claim Gaza, making conflict resolution between Israel and the Palestinians feasible. Similarly, India should give up claims on Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and Pakistan should give up claims on Indian controlled Kashmir, making it feasible for Indian and Pakistani states to negotiate suitable political arrangements with Kashmiri groups on their respective sides.

  • In Northern Ireland, conflict resolution was feasible only when British and Irish governments raised themselves above the conflict and began to treat it as one between communities. Similarly, having failed to resolve the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir by treating it as an inter-state issue for 50 years, India and Pakistan should consider a radical reappraisal in their approach. They should treat the conflict as one between various groups and communities, rather than between themselves.

  • If India and Pakistan jointly, sincerely and vigorously pursue efforts to persuade the local population to find a peaceful solution and if they do not achieve success for several years of consistent efforts, then they should jointly examine the utility of third party mediation.

  • As in the case of all other peace agreements, ceasefire and surrender of weapons by militant groups should be on the top of the conflict resolution agenda.

  • Considering that most peace processes have taken 15-25 years for reaching agreements, it is essential to be patient and determined in pursuing the resolution of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • It is essential to learn from the mistakes of others and especially to avoid dangerous solutions, as the one embodied in the Israeli-Palestinian accord of creating intertwining enclaves of different communities.

  • Reconciliation 
  • Since the people of Jammu and Kashmir need emotional healing, Indian Prime Minister, and leaders from all parties should visit the valley regularly to address public rallies and build a political and emotional rapport with the people instead of depending on the soldier alone to represent the Indian state.

  • Civil society groups from all over India should establish partnerships with individuals and groups in Jammu and Kashmir to launch constructive projects and, more important, to build relations with the Kashmiri people.

  • It is essential to take urgent steps for addressing psychological traumas and develop local capacity among health professionals to treat psychiatric diseases.

  • It is essential to give urgent attention to rehabilitation of over 54,000 war widows and almost 1 lakh children and orphans affected by violence.

  • Urgent steps are required for resettlement of almost 350,000 internally displaced persons, and improving their health and educational support in refugee camps in the interim period.

  • As in many other countries, it will be an emotionally healing measure if a memorial for disappeared persons is erected as a homage to those who have lost their lives in the conflict.

  • Religious and civic leaders have to take various initiatives for strengthening the Sufi tradition, weakening the tendency towards religious orthodoxy, and promoting harmony between different communities.

  • Dialogues for community harmony are required involving the participants of Muslim, Pandit, Gujjar, Dogra and Pahadi communities.

  • Senior politicians and officials of the state government should ensure speedy, equitable and efficient distribution of compensation packages to all victims of violence.

  • The cases of all political prisoners who have spent more than 5 years in jail should be reviewed by a committee of central and state security officials, and all those found not guilty should not only be released, but also provided financial assistance to rebuild their lives.

  • Reconstruction 
  • Considering the severe civil society deficit in Jammu and Kashmir, it is necessary to take urgent steps to build civil society groups and develop leadership at different levels.

  • There is a need to create a credible database of socio-economic indicators to be able to plan future development.

  • An ambitious programme for training ex-militants in handicrafts, tourism, furniture making, agro-industries, and other crafts should be launched.

  • A comprehensive action plan to disarm the militants and prevent the proliferation of light weapons should be undertaken.

  • A train service from Jammu to Srinagar and a bus service from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad should be started.

  • Since Jammu and Kashmir has a hydro-electric potential of over 15,000 MW, top priority should be given to the development of this sector.

  • Since tourism has been the traditional industry in Jammu and Kashmir, special efforts should be made to revive it and create employment for those having traditional skills in this business.

  • Several primary health care centers and district hospitals in rural areas which have stopped functioning should be reactivated and new hospitals and medical facilities should be opened.

  • Agriculture, horticulture, saffron cultivation, development of herbal products should be given top priority and special efforts should be made to export Kashmiri products in these sectors.

  • The education system in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be revamped, with new professional courses being introduced.

  • Need to create a knowledge based society that would be able to exploit new opportunities in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, telecommunications etc.

  • A comprehensive ecological development plan should be launched with special attention to lakes in Srinagar city, forestry and wildlife protection.

Sundeep Waslekar, and Ilmas Futehally, are the Founder Director and Assistant Director respectively of Mumbai-based think-tank, International Centre for Peace Initiatives (ICPI)

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