Published On: Mon, Jun 30th, 2014

Evenly Matched Governments & Kashmir

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

India and Pakistan shall have to challenge and compete each other in their share of regional influence and the constituency of international support. There is no harm that each does work to establish a distinct national identity. However, it is harmful for the people of two countries and the region, if India and Pakistan maintain polarized identities. India still remains the world’s largest democracy beset with many problems, significant among these remain Kashmir and fears of Muslims of India (after Modi’s victory) as the largest minority in the world.

Pakistan having sealed the debate and any doubt on its defence capability after acquiring the nuclear weapon has started dealing with its internal challenges, the important being war against terrorism. It has a unique position in the region and in particular in around 57 Muslim countries represented in the OIC. India through diplomatic channels in New Delhi has wished Pakistan success in her war against terrorists. So is every civilian in Pakistan determined to see its army successful in Waziristan. It is for the first time that political and military leadership are seen on the same page on securing the territories of Pakistan for the people of Pakistan.

Chaophaya Dialogue

It is reassuring that  the 14th Chaophaya Dialogue, an Indo-Pakistan Track-2 held in Chang Mai, Thailand, on 21-22 June, under the banner of Jinnah Institute (JI) and the Australia India Institute (AII) has proposed that India and Pakistan should establish a hotline between the Prime Ministers of both countries to minimize trust deficit and avoid misunderstandings in the future.  It is  for the first time that  one sees the two prime ministers with little patience with the red tape of their bureaucracies. The delegates nudged the two leaders to graduate from letter writing according to one recommendation to take, “steps for additional confidence-building measures (CBMs) to lessen the trust deficit, particularly the establishment of a hotline linking the two PMs”.

It was an Indian delegate who acknowledged the fact that after a long gap in relations the recent elections in both countries have thrown up “evenly matched governments’. Indian and Pakistani delegates discussed and debated for two days the significance of a new government in New Delhi and the opportunities it creates for Indo-Pak relations, particularly in trade and economic integration—and peace and security in Afghanistan.

There is no denying the evidence that Congress missed the ‘bus in Kashmir’ and could not deliver on the popular unrest and failed to find time and muster courage to address the overall issue of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The two sides may have been working on fine tuning the trade and travel across the LOC, it does not seem to be sitting any well with the unrest of the people in Kashmir. Valley continues to remain on the boil.

Deficit in the MOOT

The efforts in the recent years to establish greater Indo-Pak peace and understanding through Track II dialogues  have contributed towards an increased level of understanding between the two countries of stakeholders committed to Indo-Pak peace.  Track II dialogue has attempted to innovate its conference agendas by addressing the rapidly changing bilateral dynamic on the ground. The liberalized visa and trade regimes are the result of sustained efforts at the Track II level, but new avenues of cooperation and mutual leaning need to be explored to make these gains permanent.

More CBMs have been proposed by the participants. The deficit in the MOOT organised by Chaophraya Dialogue remains that participants included parliamentarians, former diplomats, former military officers, media persons and policy experts, were by and large all non – Kashmiris. There is an embedded risk and a an overwhelming desire of India – Pakistan nationals participating in these meetings that they seem to treat the People of Jammu and Kashmir, as less ‘equal’ and worthy to be side-lined.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular, their intelligentsia should appear more proactive in making their inputs or in pressing for their representation. Until they have a due participation at these moots, they should remain more vigilant, in regard to any discussion or CBM that impacts their present and their future. A valid and a good argument does not have any enemies.

Kashmir

Arrests, restraints and use of police as a means of control are no answer to an issue which has an internationally established mechanism in place for its resolution. The revelation that Central Road Fund has awarded Rs 79.39 to Valley and a massive Rs 208.81 crores to the Jammu region in last three years has added salt to the injury, precipitating a well-founded belief of policy discrimination at core in Delhi.  During the previous fiscal year alone, seven projects worth Rs 85 crores were sanctioned to Jammu while just one project of Rs 15.59 crore was sanctioned in Ganderbal Bopaspora-Watelbagh bridge for Kashmir. During 2013-2014 Kashmir has paid Rs825 crore  in income tax and  Jammu has made a payment of Rs232 crores in income tax only.

Kashmir region having the highest representation in Legislative Assembly, its legislators have failed to secure required funds under Central Road Fund unlike Jammu region which managed a huge fund flow. The poor fund flow to the land locked valley to upgrade its road network has severely dented the developmental works and has thrown up an army of unemployed youth. Elected representatives in the J & K assembly (referenced in UN SC Resolution of 30 March 1951) seem to be using the elected tenure for their private gains and in offering themselves for compromises of various sorts at the cost of their constituencies and the constituents. The corruption has turned into a no holds barred means of profit.

50 years of Awami Action Committee (AAC)

Away from Chang Mai, Thailand Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday 27 June 2014 addressed  a youth convention to commemorate 50 years of Awami Action Committee (AAC) at Shaheed-e-Milat stadium Lal Bazar, Srinagar. The highlight of the youth convention is the message to Kashmiri youth and the oath taken in Kashmiri. He spelt out a Kashmiri narrative in economics, politics, social responsibilities and above all the duty to carry forward the struggle for their right of self-determination. Mirwaiz bemoaned the fact that Kashmiri youth was subjected to worst sufferings over the past 25 years. “Hundreds of youth are still in prisons and in torture centres besides they are being martyred to run peaceful freedom movement.” The launch of youth4kashmir.com website and his appeal to people to join the online campaign for creating social awareness against drug abuse, moral and social responsibilities of youth and the ways to sustain the on-going struggle in Kashmir, is a substantive measure in today’s age of social media interaction.

The youth that attended the convention have taken an oath in Kashmiri to follow principles of Islam and be committed to struggle. The youth pledged that they will do their best to realize their full potential as a conscious nation –  will be mindful of their faith and honest at all times and will strive to keep themselves  morally upright, intellectually awake and physically strong. They further pledged to fulfil their responsibilities to shape the future destiny of Kashmir. “We will be its voice of freedom and its force for positive change. We will be united in the defence of our rights, including our right of self-determination. We will be courageous and ceaseless in our struggle for justice and for the right to freely pursue our political, economic, social and cultural development.” The youth further pledged “We will respect and cherish Kashmir. We will preserve and protect our precious identity, culture, and environment and we will strive to pass on an even better heritage to future generations.”

If the elements of oath that “We will build a cohesive and enlightened society. We will put into practice our collective values, including the principles of truth, compassion, justice, liberty, equality, fraternity and respect. We will work hard to make ourselves economically independent and we will help empower others to do the same,” are followed upon and allowed to permeate into the ranks of the Kashmiri youth, it is going to transform the moral and political moorings in Kashmir.

Union Territory status in Kashmir.

While Chaophaya Dialogue in Thailand and AAC in Srinagar were busy in debate and incrementing an informed interaction between the communities, a group of Kashmiri Pandits have urged the Centre to announce confidence building measures while addressing the issue of their return to the Valley. We should all join Kashmiri Pandits in their desire to return and in their demands that Modi Government should announce confidence building measures as an insurance for their return.

So far so good except that these Kashmiri Pandits under the banner of Panun Kashmir’s women’s wing have agitated a caveat  that all Kashmiri Pandits be rehabilitated in a single homeland with Union Territory status in Kashmir. This demand would be regarded as uncharacteristic of their history, life and culture in Kashmir. It would create a divide between the two communities and many Muslim and people of other faiths would be tempted to regard it as wicked desire. We support their return in safety and in dignity as a priority issue and we also support their request that  the government announces  fast-track tribunals to start court proceedings on various cases related to the exodus of the community. One would not be encouraged to see Kashmiri Pandits in 2014 campaigning for a separate homeland with Union Territory status  in the disputed State of Jammu and Kashmir. It would throw their bona fides as State Subjects and good neighbours into a serious disrepute.


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