Published On: Mon, Jan 4th, 2016

Non-territorial formula and Turbulent Kashmiri

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

India seems to be preparing itself to ‘buy out’ a settlement on Kashmir. Deep down in the recesses of heart Indian administration is expressing its comfort with the ‘non-territorial’ for¬mula and ‘soft-border solution’ prepared by Galbraith (John Kenneth Galbraith US Ambassador to India) and discussed by President Kennedy with Nehru during his November 1961 visit to Washington. Neh¬ru did not have a good trip because earlier in July 1961 President Ayub had been on a state visit to US and the highlight of his visit was his address to the joint session of the Congress.

The high point of his effective public diplomacy in Washington was that he declared: “The only people who will stand by you are the people of Pakistan, provided you are also prepared to stand by them”. Kashmir figured as the main interest in Ayub’s exchanges with the American hosts. According to US Embassy Karachi telegram 2078 to the State Department of June 2, 1961, FRUS, 1961-1963, XIX, p.52 President Ayub Khan told William Manning Rountree US ambassador in Pakistan that ‘only the United States could prevent the disastrous consequences of a failure to arrive at a Kashmir solution’. Ambassador told Washington that ‘Pakistan public opinion, combined with Ayub’s own personal belief in Pakistan’s cause on Kashmir, might lead him to take whatever action he thought necessary to bring dispute to worlds attention’. (Embassy Office Murree airgram G-16 to the State Department, June 17, 1961, SDCF 690D.91).

Nehru was offered a “non-territorial formula” to a Kashmir settlement. According to this India and Pakistan should retain the territory they currently held but permit greater movement between the two sides of the state. According to Galbraith, this concept offered the only way to resolve the dispute given competing and irreconcilable Indian and Pakistani demands for the Valley. Galbraith had floated the idea earlier with Nehru and had received a non-committal response. It has been recorded that Indian prime minister was more positive during the talks at the White House. He said that if territorial claims were dropped, all other questions could be resolved without difficulty. It was easy enough for him to take this position since Galbraith’s formula let India retain the Kashmir Valley.

Today the Indian camp considers that start of a bus service between the two sides of Kashmir and the development of other intra-Kashmir confidence building measures have given the formula a fresh currency. In Galbraith’s version, residents of the Valley or perhaps a larger area would move freely between this designated territory, India and Pakistan. The cease-fire- line would no longer inhibit family, cultural, economic, and religious ties. Military forces could be reduced and eventually withdrawn along the line itself. A joint India-Pakistan constabulary would act as a border control force in place of the United Nations. Galbraith continued to promote this formula during much of his tenure as ambassador in New Delhi.

There are a number of models and no progress could be made because these models have remained non-transparent and without any reference to the consent of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. UN mechanism is the only mechanism which has remained transparent and in the public eye. It has been thoroughly debated by non-party countries at the United Nations. It may need an update to remove any prejudice to the people, as required by progress in the interpretation of ‘equality’ of people and right of ‘self-determination’. Over all it is a consensus mechanism for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.

India may wish to ‘buy out’ a settlement with Pakistan but it seems to have eroded all legal, moral and political authority in Kashmir (Valley in particular). The history of Political behaviour and political culture in Pakistan has been more principled than one seen in India. Pakistan could have sealed the Kashmir dispute in its favour and the people of Kashmir, if it had made a military move in Kashmir during October 1962 Sino- India war. China had defeated India in NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) and had forced the Indian army to retreat to the plains of Assam. Chinese had also made an advance in Ladakh and had overwhelmed the Indian outposts. Taking over the military control of Kashmir would have been a walk over for the Pakistan army. On the contrary Indian Government did not hold back from direct interference when it saw an opening in East Pakistan.

The Valley of November 1961 when Galbraith presented his non-territorial formula allowing India to retain the Valley, has been through sixty-eight years of wait to be consulted under the UN supervision on their future. In 2016 we see that it is far different to what it would have been in November 1961. Habitat and the people have suffered and there is no end to their suffering. Indian security forces are “engaged in a war” with the common people on a regular basis since 1990. There is a loss of life on both sides and Valley has lost a generation. The high mark of the engagement is that Indian security forces and their support forces in the State kill resisting youth labeled as Lashkar-e- Toiba, Hizb or militants of any other outfit and the local people and masked youth wearing army fatigues surface in thousands to offer funeral prayers. Men and women mourn the deaths inside the home and under the open sky.

Rajiv Gandhi’s remarks during his visit in Srinagar in early 1990s that ‘India has lost Kashmir’, are writ large on the faces of non-Kashmiris who patrol the streets of Valley. Radha Kumar, a former interlocutor on Jammu & Kashmir for the Indian government, warned at the Times LitFest, Delhi on Sunday 29 November 2015 that India could conceivably lose the Kashmir valley in the next 10 years unless a serious effort is made to resolve the situation. Kumar, who now heads a think-tank, Delhi Policy Group, made the remark while speaking at the opening session – ‘Kashmir Today: Towards an Indian Future? ‘ – of the second day of the Times LitFest.

In addition to Rajiv Gandhi and Radha Kumar, there are many other voices like late Justice V M Tarkunde of Bombay High Court and Justice Ranjider Sachar of Delhi High Court who have expressed similar views on Kashmir. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao promised Kashmiris that the sky was the limit and at the same time Delhi has driven the Valley back to Maharaja days of 1931. It appears that life in 2016 is much worse than it was on 24 September 1931 when Maharaja of Kashmir issued the Notification No 19-L of 1988 and provided for the “conferment of special powers upon certain…officers for suppression of disorder and the restoration and maintenance of law and order”, in the State. The most striking feature of the Notification was the “Power to arrest turbulent persons”.

The current administration in comparison in Kashmir has lost its soul and conscience. It is unjust and cruel. Maharaja had to withdraw the Proclamation on 5 October 1931. There is no expression of remorse or any readiness to withdraw black laws and special powers used by security forces and police since 1990.

It is alarming and unacceptable that administration should continue to refuse Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani his religious right to offer Friday prayers for over 36 times and keep him a prisoner in his own house. Hurriyat Conference (G) on Friday said the continuous house arrest of its chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, “is basically a wicked plan of Indian rulers to kill him slowly and gradually to make it look like a natural death”. Does Delhi really harbour this manner of malice to graduate a decent, highly respected and elderly figure in politics into death? Delhi is making a mistake. Deaths since 1846 to date did not put Kashmiris out of valour and out of number, in their struggle.

Chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Shabir Ahmad Shah (constituent of Hurriyat G) was kept under house arrest for a period of 201 days during which he was barred from offering Friday prayers 42 times and Eid prayers twice. Kashmiri prisoners are languishing in prisons and their plight is miserable outside the state prisons. Masrat Alam Bhat is released by the Courts and re-arrested by the police at the prison gate. Delhi has installed a police regime and a security apparatus in the Valley which has introduced a revolving door justice and introduced dark arts of counter-insurgency.

Indian Government and its accessories in the State continue to accrue and aggravate their criminal liability in the Valley. If India wants to ‘buy out’ a settlement it has to return to the basics. Kashmiri political parties in the Government and in the opposition should not collaborate in any abuse. Syed Ali Geelani’s camp has leveled serious allegations and it is our duty to interfere. We have a right to move to the United Nations and appraise Pakistan on the abuse and dark arts of counter insurgency practiced in the Valley.

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