Published On: Mon, May 26th, 2014

Importance of Sharif’s participation?

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

I am still in Islamabad. During my interaction with various schools of opinion, in particular European Union Delegation to Pakistan and the High Commissioner of Canada, I found a common but deep desire that the people of Kashmir need to encourage India and Pakistan to stop invoking the enemy images of each other, to help themselves in their case and to be helped by other countries. The advice has been that Kashmiris have mismanaged their own case. The caution was “We will not wade into the matter, unless you manage yourselves. You have a legitimate grievance”.

Merits of Visit

The decision of the Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi, to invite Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his oath taking ceremony on Monday, 26 May, 2014 and the decision of Nawaz Sharif to attend the ceremony are two decisions that are likely to turn a new chapter in the future relations between the two countries. There are still voices (regulars or may be some genuine) that would question the Prime Minister of Pakistan and advise him differently. We need to understand the merits of this invitation from Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi. The invitation in fact is on behalf of the people of India who have expressed their trust in the new leadership.

Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi is a real person and so is India. The leadership in Pakistan, the people of Pakistan, the leadership in Kashmir and the people of Kashmir do not have any role to undo this reality and plant a reality of their own choice. It is not only Pakistan and Kashmir, but even the rest of the world has started making moves to adjust to the new reality and engage India.
There must be some embedded faith of the common Indian that he/she has voted a ‘Chai-Wala’ into power. Unlike others he has a humble background and now sits on the political radar of India to turn a new leaf for his people and there is an intra-State responsibility that he is helped to succeed within India and shares this success with others outside in the neighbourhood. A prosperous and at ease India would not begrudge to share the dividends with the people of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been rightly counselled and he has taken the right decision to be at the oath taking ceremony. There could hardly be a better moment than this to convey sentiments of good will from the leadership and people of Pakistan to the new leadership and the people of India. The stage is rightly set for a flawless take off in good neighbourly relations. The presence of Nawaz Sharif would tell it all and it would lead to a better tomorrow.

Those in Pakistan, in Kashmir and a regulated group of Kashmiris who may remain at variance with the merits of the visit should know that the two Prime Ministers have to meet at some point. So why not to meet when faces are lit with celebration and not glum and gloomy. If there is a merit to meet on the side lines of SAARC meetings and UN General Assembly sessions, for the benefit of cameras, one should not fail to admit the huge benefit in an invitation and in its acceptance. Both sides would be meeting under a relaxed and a genuine environment. If anyone would be the focus of attention before, at and after the oath taking ceremony it would be the guests from Pakistan. India-Pakistan hospitality towards each other embeds this characteristic.

Benefits of the Visit

It is early morning on Sunday, 25 May, 2014 and I can feel the air more relaxed today. People in Pakistan that I have talked to after the decision to attend the ceremony was made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan seem nervous but relaxed. Modi is accused and portrayed to have sinned against Muslims of India and his election rhetoric on Kashmir is quoted as a cause of genuine scare. It is and may be so. But post-election responsibilities are to be carried on behalf of every citizen of Indian Republic, regardless of caste, creed and colour. A convincing for and against argument of ex-army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg is published in The Daily Nation and The Monthly Gaash today. The Nation is the leading English daily of Pakistan and The Monthly Gaash is in its 23 year of publication and is published from Rawalpindi, Muzaffarabad, Diamer (GB) and London.

The visit is going to add to the responsibilities that Indian voter (masses) have trusted to their new Prime Minister. Narendra Modi shall have to deal with a neighbour who made it to be at his oath taking ceremony and made a conscious effort to break away from the past narrow mindedness and be part of the celebration. The immediate benefit would be that a sense of co-existence would be incremented between various major communities in India and between the two countries.

A relaxed sense of security (recently dented) would spill over to all Kashmiri Muslim boys and girls studying in various universities in various parts of India. There would be a change in the mind-set of many in these institutions or areas where Kashmiri students faced an unfavourable environment. A harmonious climate would be rehabilitated in and around these institutions in various States of India.
The other choice has been dealing with the Congress. Unfortunately Congress has failed to keep its hand on the handle and the precious time has been wasted in taking the irritants to a logical end. One would have hoped a different output from Congress in her relations with Pakistan and in particular in honouring her bilateral and international obligations in Jammu and Kashmir. It chose to manage the habitat and the people of Kashmir – remaining insensitive to the loss of a generation, continued violations of human rights, aggravated poverty, abuse of power by the police, army of employable educated unemployed youth, employable uneducated unemployed youth, plight of women and uncertainty at all levels in Kashmir (Valley).

Modi Government has generated a hope in Pakistan and in Kashmir. The sense of hope has to be saved from going waste. One finds a reason to carry on with this new hope and it is rooted in the repeated political promise that the new Government would carry forward the Vajpayee’s vision on Kashmir. One would say that it is not only Vajpayee’s vision on Kashmir that needs to be taken forward, the new Government has to add further convincing elements to it.

There is a serious sense of involvement and hope expressed by various disciplines in India as well. The Interlocutors have decided to resubmit their report compiled during Congress Government to the new Home Minister. It is reassuring that hope seems to resurface on the question of Kashmir. The interlocutors may have a noble desire and we appreciate it, but their report too needs to be revamped. It has failed to encompass the serious sections of the opinion in Kashmir and has failed to take on board the views of a huge Kashmiri Diaspora and the 2.5million Kashmiri refugees living in PaK and Pakistan. Article 48 of the J & K Constitution and UN Resolutions make the J & K Legislative Assembly incomplete. In the same manner the J & K Constitution and the wisdom of UN Resolutions on Kashmir make the Interlocutor’s report less perfect.

Way forward

The new Government can’t afford to follow in the foot prints of Congress-NC led Government in Kashmir. It has to take a bold step and need not misdirect itself. As a start it has to look at the responsibilities undertaken by the Government of India in her bilateral agreement with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir made on 26/27 October 1947 and the responsibilities undertaken  by the Kashmiri leadership and the Government of India at the Unite Nations. No matter what happens and how things are made to happen, the Government of India could not risk as a leading democracy of the world and a member nation of the UN to go to war against its own principled stand at the UN. The new Government can’t renege on the application made to the UN in January 1948 and from resting her case for the consideration of three elements in Kashmir case.

India and Pakistan in particular and the other member nations of the UN can find a way out of Kashmir mess by respecting the right of self-determination based on the principle of ‘equality of people’. There is a settled mechanism for the resolution of Kashmir case. The jurisprudence of UN mechanism on Kashmir assures a just solution by taking on board the interests of three people, namely, the people of Kashmir, India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan need to encourage Kashmiris to be able and sincere to their own interests and discourage any undue patronage, which has created fissures of discontent.

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