Published On: Mon, Jun 22nd, 2015

Kashmir narrative and 15-yr demilitarization

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

The death of Wahid Noor Khan of Rawalakot and the death of Constable Abdul Majid on Saturday inside a police vehicle which was escorting the under-trial is unfortunate. Two State subjects (Kashmiris) have been killed and some others injured. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends on both sides of the cease fire line. There is a condemnation from the politicians and it should not end up in routine. Interests of the family of the deceased should engage their full interest.

The State is responsible for the life of a State Subject. It has failed to secure the life of a citizen under trial. Rawalakot would be mourning the death of Wahid Noor Khan and we should not miss out in joining the people in grief but should take our duty to a notch up. An appropriate case should be filed against the police for the death. Police could not detain him for being from Rawalakot and since it detains at will, it has to be held responsible for the death. Who planned the death is the police duty to find out but to pay due compensation to Khan’s family in Rawalakot   is the State responsibility. The Government should announce an immediate interim financial compensation to the aggrieved family and make the offer either through the Government at Muzaffarabad or through an NGO or through Pakistan High Commission in Delhi.

It seems equally important that State apparatus and the newspapers in Srinagar have to update their ‘Kashmir narrative’. Wahid Noor Khan has been duly identified from Rawalakot which is on the Pakistani side of the cease fire line. He has been named as a ‘Pakistani militant’, which is not correct. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) North Kashmir, Gareeb Dass stands out in making this error. His statement that “The Pakistani militant who was an under-trial prisoner was killed on spot and three policemen were critically injured in the blast that took place inside the police vehicle,” needs correction.

Under the UN Resolutions and under article 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution adopted on 17 November 1956 Wahid Noor Khan is a citizen of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Delhi Government should also investigate the manner of death because it has sent its army into the State to protect ‘life’. Therefore it is the Government at Srinagar and the Government in Delhi which have accrued a direct liability to protect Wahid Noor Khan and others. Courts too need to take a suo moto notice.

In fact we all need to update our narrative on Kashmir. Former Pakistan president General (Retd) Parvez Musharraf has said in an interview with Srinagar-based Urdu magazine Belaag Sahafat that India and Pakistan had agreed to withdraw their armies from their parts of Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years during his tenure in 2007. The most important part of his revelation is that he had discussed the plan with Kashmiri separatist leaders during his meetings with them in Pakistan, Delhi and New York. “They were supporting my proposal. Yasin Malik too had agreed with the plan. However, Syed Ali Geelani was the only opponent to the proposal but his consent was not important. National conference working President Omar Abdullah was also on board.”

One wonders that if Hurriyat and non Hurriyat leadership (minus Syed Ali Shah Geelani) had agreed to this proposal of a 15-yr demilitarization, self-governance and a joint control why did they not share it with various schools of opinion and common people in Kashmir and engage them to build a consensus or seek opinions on the merits of the proposal.  What is the connecting point between our leaders and the people remains unexplained to date?

Our leaders have a duty to make a reference of any agreement or understanding reached with Delhi or Islamabad, either in private or in public to the people. They are not there to keep a secret for India or Pakistan and fail to respect the trust of their people. Being in the good books of India or Pakistan and failing to discharge the higher burden of duty to their people (Kashmiris) has made our one time united and gigantic leadership fragmented and dwarf that it is driven to suffer in small pockets by the State administration. They are lifted like pieces of deadwood and loaded on to a police lorry, a spectacle that would have let hell loose in early 1990s.

General (Retd) Parvez Musharraf made errors as all military rulers intend to make at the end of the day. Otherwise, he is very brave, honest, straightforward and articulates his narrative to the surprise of his opponents. It is not revealing (for many of us) that Omar Abdullah was on board and Syed Ali Geelani was not in the loop and his consent was not considered necessary for the proposal. One faction of Hurriyat may have relished the fact that Syed Ali Geelani had been driven to inconsequence at that point, but the need to drive him to the margins should have been revisited even in 2007.  A minimum sense of respect and trust for each other should be the overriding interest. Today after eight years we see disunity and confusion in the leadership.  It has descended to do small political chores to keep relevance. The revelation would not help the Kashmir leadership and the people. However, a lesson could be learned for the future.

Under this 15-yr demilitarization “People would freely elect their own representative. This would be called self-governance. It was decided that India and Pakistan would jointly monitor this mechanism. We had decided that initially this kind of joint mechanism would be maintained for 15 years,” former Pakistani military ruler has revealed. One wonders, as to why Syed Ali Geelani did not link the 15-yr demilitarization proposal to UN Resolutions on Kashmir and why did Hurriyat (M) and Yasin Malik content themselves at seeing Syed Ali Shah Geelani inconsequent in the loop.

Syed Ali Geelani may have to answer future generations on the failure of his team in not connecting the 15-yr demilitarization proposal with the wisdom of UN Resolutions on Kashmir. In fact the proposal was in line with UN Security Council Resolution of 21 April 1948. The demilitarization including manner of behaviour, number and location of these Indian forces is set out in Para 2 (c) (i) to (iii) of the resolution.  These forces (Indian) have to be in Kashmir in accordance with the following three principles:

(i)                 That the presence of troops should not afford any intimidation or appearance of intimidation to the inhabitants of the State;

(ii)               That as small a number as possible should be retained in forward areas;

(iii)             That any reserve of troops which may be included in the strength should be located within their present base area.

The jointly monitored self-governance (Governments) on either side of cease fire line could have been connected to the character of government provided in para 6 of UN Security Council Resolution S/726 of 21 April 1948. According to a UN Resolution “the Government of India should undertake to ensure that the Government of the State invite the major political groups to designate responsible representatives to share equitably and fully in the conduct of the administration at the ministerial level while the plebiscite is being prepared and carried out.”

Hurriyat (G), Hurriyat (M) and including JKLF (Yasin Malik) seem to have sinned against the interests of their people and against the trust that they bear on behalf of the people, in keeping the details of these meetings held in Pakistan, Delhi and New York with Parvez Musharraf as a divine secret close to their mortal chests until new circumstances set in and altered the case. 15-yrs demilitarized life and 15 years self-governance, no doubt under joint control (we have a joint control even today) and connected with the jurisprudence of the UN Resolution of 21 April 1948 would have paved way for a new and prosperous Kashmir, where ‘life’, ‘property’ and ‘honour’ would have made an irreversible start.

Our leaders and their associates of all manner, from letter-head parties to doomsday human rights activists should have known that it would have been easier to induct the principles of the UN Resolution of 21 April 1948 into the proposal for safe guarding the full regime of human rights as well. The UN Resolution states that, “there will be freedom of the press, speech and assembly and freedom of travel in the State, including freedom of lawful entry and exit”. At least we would have been able to save the life of one more Wahid Noor Khan and Constable Abdul Majid. Our leaders have a duty to educate themselves and update their understanding of Kashmir case. So should state officials update their narrative. Wahid Noor Khan is a State Subject and not a Pakistani militant.

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