the Agenda in Kashmir
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)