Published On: Mon, Dec 16th, 2013

‘Zero conflict policy’

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

It could and could not be a coincidence or it could be a well-timed diplomatic activity to reach out to each other, that Government of Pakistan exchanged two good will messages with the Government of India on Thursday 12 December 2013.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development in the Government of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal while addressing an international conference on ‘Social Change and Security Imperatives: Challenges for Leadership and Democratic Governance in Pakistan’ held at Forman Christian College said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has “zero conflict policy” with neighbours including India, Afghanistan and other states in the larger interest of the country.

The minister further added that Pakistan lost its eastern part just after 25 years of its creation due to non-existence of democracy. And now we are faced with many problems in Balochistan and Sindh. On the other hand, India followed the course of democracy and is progressing with leaps and bounds.” He noted that some maturity could be seen in the democratic process of the country. In this context, he highlighted the transition of power from one democratic government to the other. The minister concluded by saying, “Inter-dependency among the countries of South and Central Asia is the need of time as 3 billion people, almost half of total population of the globe, live here and the region is a hub of commerce and trade.”

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on the same Thursday 12 December 2013 called on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and underscored the importance of resumption of the Pak-India dialogue process and peaceful resolution of all issues. Shahbaz also delivered a message of goodwill from his elder brother, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, emphasising “Pakistan’s desire to forge friendly and cooperative relations with India, in the interest of peace and prosperity of the people of the two countries and of the region.” Chief Minister Shahbaz later told a group of reporters that in the meeting he pressed the need for resolving all problems, including terrorism and Kashmir, through peaceful dialogue, overcoming the “baggage of the past”.

The chief minister during the talks with Indian Prime Minister said that Pakistan government wants a lasting and permanent peace in the region. He said both countries could benefit from the experiences of each other and future of the people of both the countries is linked with peace as such neither country can afford confrontation. Shahbaz said a comfortable life, best treatment facilities and better education is the dream of the people of both the countries. Therefore, it is duty of the two governments to materialise this dream.

Shahbaz Sharif also visited Jamia Masjid Delhi where Imam Masjid Ahmed Shah Bukhari received him. The CM offered Maghrib prayers there. Addressing the people, he said it is an honour for him to visit the historical mosque as it is a place from where a number of political and religious movements had started.

He said he could still hear in the mosque the voices of great leaders who lead the Muslims before independence. Imam Masjid in his note of welcome said that Indian Muslims pray for the development and prosperity of Pakistan and Pakistani people. He also offered dua for the development, prosperity of the people, security of both the countries and peace in the region.

Shahbaz Sharif also attended the Kabaddi World Cup Final played between India and Pakistan teams at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana. India lifted the winning trophy by 48-39 points. The match was also witnessed by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Sharif was also scheduled to visit his family’s ancestral village, Jatti Umra, in Tarn Taran district of Punjab, 35 km from Amritsar, on Sunday. He will also visit the Golden Temple complex. The event has opened opportunities to boost trade, cultural exchanges, sports and tourism between the two Punjabs in particular and the India and Pakistan in general.

The new political narrative emanating from Pakistan admitting the benefits of democracy in India, the need of a democratic set up in Pakistan, faith in a ‘zero conflict policy’ with India and other neighbours and the duty of the two governments to materialise a common dream in the interests of the collective welfare of the two people is a new beginning and needs to be supported by the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well.

The first and the foremost lesson is that we should argue with our opponents and should marshal our agenda with reason and avoid to humiliate the opposition. Winning an argument does not mean to humiliate the opponent. A sovereign country (Pakistan) in the neighbourhood of India has at long last found a cure to its problems in the template of Indian democracy, in a ‘zero conflict policy’ and in the duty of the two Governments to work to realise a common dream for the people.

The Imam of Jamia Masjid has set a precedence when in his note of welcome he stated that Indian Muslims pray for the development and prosperity of Pakistan and Pakistani people. He also offered dua for the development, prosperity of the people, security of both the countries and peace in the region. This is how our other Mosques in India, Pakistan and more so in Jammu and Kashmir should take a lead and play an important role in crusading for the welfare, progress and peace of all people living in their proximity and around the globe. The narrative in our mosques has to turn a new page and match with the challenges of the time.

The changing narrative in Pakistan has a lesson for the people and the leaders of Kashmir. The admission that “future of the people of both the countries is linked with peace as such neither country can afford confrontation, a comfortable life, best treatment facilities and better education is the dream of the people of both the countries and it is duty of the two governments to materialise this dream,” brings the people of Kashmir into the fold of these benefits.

India, Pakistan, main stream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir and the political parties in AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan all agree that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is divided and so are the people of these divided administrations held and controlled by India and Pakistan. There has to be a resolution of these territories and the people in these areas have to feel equal people in the exercise of their rights for the future. The tragedy has been that the political and militant components of resistance in Kashmir ran post haste and turned their backs on a mechanism accepted by India and Pakistan and the world for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute.

In fact our leaders have failed their people in Kashmir in regard to a ‘duty’ to the people that has now emerged in the Pakistani narrative of interaction with India. India has taken upon to “defend the territory”, protect the “life”, “property” and “honour” of the people of Kashmir. Pakistan on its part has assumed responsibilities in AJK just to provide a “better Government and administration of Azad Jammu and Kashmir until such time as the status of Jammu and Kashmir is determined under UNCIP Resolution.”

Unfortunately, we have grown thick skinned and ignore the fact that there has been death of a generation and we have caused a serious injury to the life, property and honour of people. It has taken away the prospect of an early return to a referendum on the basis of living numericals. There is a serious number deficit and it has almost killed the right of self-determination on the basis of a UN supervised referendum for a long time to come. All we can do is to keep the principle of ‘equality’ and ‘self-determination’ alive for the present.

The people of Kashmir (Valley) are faced with a dilemma and the leaders who seem to represent the ‘sentiment’, need to examine their political narrative. It is important that these leaders come out with an assurance which equals the assurance given by the main stream (elected representatives) leaders on oath that, “I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter, and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”

The people of Jammu and Kashmir have a right to a process and a quality of life, like any other people in India and Pakistan. They have a reason to question their division and respective controls on either side of LoC. If we conduct an audit of our narrative used in pressing our grievances it does not take long to be caught red handed that we have been carrying a non-Kashmiri narrative and have turned the case of our people into a commercial enterprise at home and at the international level.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He is on UN register as an expert in Peace Keeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. He is an advocate of Supreme Court and could be reached on email dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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