Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
is a matter of great honor for me to address this International convention on Kashmir here in Geneva.
I would like to express my appreciation for the role of International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM)
and International Council for Human Rights (ICHR) jointly holding this convention. On behalf of the Kashmiri people, I thank
the organizers and assure them that it remains a great source of strength for us in difficult times.
The Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest unresolved international conflicts in the world today. Generations of Kashmiris have
grown up under the shadow of the gun. India
have already fought three wars over Kashmir but the Kashmir
dispute primarily involves the life and the future of thirteen million people. Because of its impact on the relations between
this directly affects the peace and stability of the South Asian sub-continent, a region that contains one-fifth of the total
of the challenging prepositions in Kashmir is how peace can be
won and the aspirations of the people of the state be realized and it is of utmost importance in any process of conflict resolution.
Most debated topic at the present moment in all-important political and intellectual circles is, how to find a possible solution
to the vexed problem of Kashmir? Many options have
been proposed in the past and new ones are being discussed now. It is for the first time that possible proposals for resolution
of the dispute, instead of hackneyed rhetoric, have become focus of the discussion amongst various parties. President of Pakistan
Pervez Musharraf in a historic and positive approach towards the solution of long pending Issue of Kashmir outlined a four
point formula. To change the course of the events to peace and development, Musharraf’s formula seems most relevant
and desirable. This is indeed a workable and practicable approach towards the Kashmir Solution. Its acceptance and then enforcement
shall assure a new phase towards the resolution of long pending Kashmir
would not be out of place to emphasize that a pre-conceived mindset can be a major obstacle and a deterrent in any forward
movement. A process, which does not recognize the multidimensional factors operative on the ground, can be a time wasting
exercise. As All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) represents the sentiments of the people of Kashmir,
it also represents the change. It believes in flexibility in approach, realism in attitude and change in mindset. We therefore
welcome all proposals with open arms. Being the biggest stake-holders in the peace, people of Jammu Kashmir, are enthusiastically
rallying around the democratic and peaceful means for the resolution of the dispute. The leadership in New
Delhi and Islamabad
must make determined political and diplomatic moves to grab this historic opportunity and permanently settle this long-standing
contentious dispute in the region.
discussing and reviewing the formula it must be noted that the arrangement worked out on the broadest definitions of this
formula between India
could have sanctity and viability only when ratified by Kashmiris through internationally supervised referendum.
The First Point of the formula is Identifying Kashmir. The name Kashmir
is supposed to denote the erstwhile princely State of Jammu & Kashmir and comprises of five regions, Kashmir
Ladakh, “Azad” Kashmir, and Northern Areas.
Each region has its own peculiarity and history. It is a complete diversity which has a unity imposed externally. When the
first step in President Musharaffa’s four point formula is reviewed it becomes clear that all the regions of erstwhile
princely State of Jammu & Kashmir form a disputed territory and all the people living in these five regions are the first
and main party to the dispute. Like Indian administered Jammu & Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Northern areas under Pakistan
have to be brought in the realm of resolution. So there will be neither any ”integral part of India”
nor any “inseparable region of Pakistan’’.
The diversity of Kashmir, being a multi-religious,
multi-cultural and multi-lingual state, makes it clear that Kashmir
issue is not a religious, ethnic, regional or divisional Issue but the fate of the people living in this disputed territory
is at stake. People of different faith and religions are living in the state in complete communal harmony and presently there
are eight languages being spoken by the people of Jammu & Kashmir. So first and foremost requirement is to accept without
any reservations whatsoever the existence of the problem not as a territorial dispute but as a human problem concerning the
future of millions. I must hasten to add that President Musharraf has been able to move away from the frozen embrace of the
past and has made a paradigmatic shift from dispute-centric to people-centric approach. He has publicly declared that it is
primarily the satisfaction and aspirations of Kashmiris which is of paramount importance. But unfortunately on the other hand,
continues to live in the tight and frozen embrace of the ossified and fossilized position of the past and nothing short of
her continued grip on Kashmir is acceptable to her.
In fact India
is using novel ways of tightening her grip on Kashmir
through different ways.
the second step pertains to “Demilitarization” of identified “Kashmir”.
This demand for total withdrawal of troops has been already included in the Security Council Resolutions in 1950’s directing
holding of a Plebiscite under UN auspices and demilitarization of the State. However, none of these resolutions could be implemented
so far, as the first step of demilitarization of the State of Jammu & Kashmir has not been possible because of the intransigence
of the two neighboring countries laying claims to the State.
demilitarization has its own challenges. The practical implementation of the measure can be judged only after the actual ground
situation of the security forces is considered. For all practical purposes, Kashmir
valley or rather the whole State is at present like an oversized cantonment or a military barrack. The whole State is indeed most densely soldiered territory of the world. The Indian troops-to-Kashmiri
people ratio in the occupied Kashmir is the largest ever
soldiers-to-civilians ratio in the world. There are approximately 100,000 Indian military forces—including regular army,
para-military troops, border security force and police—currently deployed in Kashmir.
This is in addition to thousands of “counter-militants”—the civilians hired by the Indian forces to crush
the popular movement.
President called for Demilitarization, He probably forgot to mention about the repeal of the draconian legislations giving
unbridled powers to these forces in dealing with civilian insurgency. The various draconian legislations have delegated to
security forces such vast and unquestionable powers that the entire state resembles a totalitarian police state. The writ
of the security forces runs in every sphere of day to day life. They can violate all restrictions and regulations and no one
has the courage to challenge or stop them.
view of the above analysis of the security situation, it is difficult to imagine a way forward. It can only happen if the
leaders of two countries take some bold and drastic decisions and ensure demilitarization in a phased manner. First it must
be the removal of security forces from all civilian areas by withdrawing them to their barracks, then removal of all draconian
legislations giving unbridled powers to the security forces and finally gradual decreasing of the level of forces in all regions
by their dispatch back to mainland in each country. Simultaneously a peace keeping force of NATO or SAARC countries can supervise
and control the day to day security matters until Kashmir
had its own trained forces.
The third step in the formula for the solution of Kashmir
problem moots devolution of “Self Governance” for the “Identified” Kashmir
after its “demilitarization”. He did not specify exactly what is meant by “Self Governance”. Neither
did he mention about the methodology to achieve it and the parameters under which it would function. Probably his intention
was to make a bold and unconventional suggestion, the technical details of which could be worked out on the ground subsequently
after an agreement is reached. What type of “Self Governance” would the people of this area want? This can only
be answered by them through their genuine and popular leaders if given a chance!
main hurdle for “Self Governance” is an unending mistrust between the two countries. Unless this is addressed,
there will be no progress in this regard. Most of the leaders in India
try to avoid facing this problem of resolving mistrust. Unless and until government of India
give space to each other and both give some room to the people of Kashmir
there will be no progress.
Indian controlled Kashmir has all along lacked
the “Self Governance”. Having had its so called elected legislative assembly for the last sixty years it is being
argued that Indian controlled Kashmir has always had self
rule, its own constitution and its own flag. People who argue this need to understand that in a democratic setup the governments
are run by a coordinated mechanism of multidimensional organizations. It comprises of an elected body such as a parliament
or a legislative assembly, an impartial indigenous judiciary system, civil defense or police for internal security, finance
for economic guarantees, foreign affairs for international relations and armed forces to take care of its borders. Through
an unwritten agreement, pending a UN sponsored plebiscite to decide the future of the state, the defense, foreign affairs
and finance of the state was looked after by government of India
in case of J & K and government of Pakistan
in Azad Kashmir since 1947. Unfortunately this agreement was gradually but skillfully eroded by the government in J&K,
without realizing that doing so will invite troubles rather than solve issues. The titles of Sadri Riyasat (President) and
Prime Minister were replaced by governor and chief minister. Security personnel were changed to totally insignificant and
powerless police servants. At the same time the state flag seemed to go into hiding. Similarly our judiciary, civil secretariat,
post & telegraph and finance departments got filled with people from outside the state. On the other side, the “Self
Governance” of Azad Kashmir will also depend upon the true aspirations of its inhabitants conveyed through their genuine
order to have a “Self Governance” in identified and demilitarized Kashmir we will have to look into all these
issues and restore these institutions to their original dignified status with international guarantees against any future
tampering. Let us hope the present political leadership in the sub-continent that appears to be genuinely interested in settling
this difficult problem has the will and strength to take some momentous and historical decisions to reach this goal!
the last point in the four point formula pertains to “Joint Management” of the “Identified”, “Demilitarized”,
and “Self Governing” Kashmir. The first three points
defining the measures to be taken for the solution of the vexed problem appear people centric. These show that the main concern
is for the suffering people of Kashmir. All three steps could
constitute a possible way forward for their emancipation and release from untold miseries and sufferings. However, the point
regarding “Joint Management” does not seem to gel with other proposed measures. Are the people of Kashmir
dumb driven cattle that could be jointly managed by wo owners? Or is it a question of some real estate and dividing of some
disputed land among two rivals with serious differences about its ownership? The question is not only of the beautiful and
enchanting piece of land but of over 13 million “living people” with hopes and aspirations. The words “Joint
Management” sound more like “Joint Slavery” when uttered in reference to living people. It seems as if two
neighboring shepherds have failed to control a group of unruly and unmanageable sheep individually and in their mutual interest,
they decide to control them jointly.
in the present political context the most possible and acceptable definition for the “joint management” may be
that the elected civilian authority of “Self Governing” Kashmir will supervise and run the defense, foreign affairs
and finance of the state with India and Pakistan and have an joint agreement with their armed forces to take care of its borders.
But the most ideal approach would be to explore the possibility of implementing the first three measures of the proposal to
allow emergence of a practical and workable final solution by consensus and then extend a “Joint Guarantee” for
its sustenance. Both the countries should agree for a “Joint Guarantee” for the rights of the people of the State
rather than their “Joint Management”. Whatever final solution comes about, it can sustain only if guaranteed by
In fact, to be really sustainable, it may have to be guaranteed by the Chinese also as they not only have a long border with
J & K but a good chunk of the State is with them.
Guarantee” itself has innumerable options. The most discussed these days is an Independent
State of Jammu & Kashmir with
a federal structure, guaranteed jointly by its neighbors, India,
and also by world powers. It has also been given the name of “United States of Kashmir”. Kashmir
which is called the Switzerland of Asia due to its physical appearance could be same politically also. It can survive in the
presence of the present gigantic neighbors if they have a gentleman’s agreement or “Joint Guarantee” to
leave it alone. If the neighbors of Switzerland
could allow it to survive the two most destructive wars in the world, why not Kashmir?
have to agree to make it truly and really the Switzerland of Asia. It could be the meeting point for all these three giants.
proposition with all other options can be considered only after the implementation of the first three points of the Musharraf
formula which would address and remove the harshest conditions presently faced by the people of the State. The four point
formula if taken as an approach and not as a solution in itself within the parameters suggested above could possibly be the
only way out of the tragedy of Kashmir and may end the half century long suffering and misery of its people. If we fail to
grasp the opportunity now, the history will never forgive us and Kashmir
will continue to bleed.
Finally I would like to say that the challenging time has come. If we have to remain on the path of historic and promising
“peace process”, finding an acceptable and durable solution to the Kashmir
conflict is necessary. It cannot come by the mere stroke of a pen or by giving formulas and road maps. It has to come through
the hearts and minds of the people. I am sure that if implemented in proper way and guaranteed by neighbors and world powers,
the four point formula can bring peace and prosperity to the whole region of south Asia
in particular and to the world in general. However, in order to clear the road and build a congenial atmosphere to enable
people to participate without any fear there are some primary requisitions. First and foremost is the immediate seize fire
from all sides and stoppage of violence, total removal of all restrictions on free public expression of political thought
and ideas and the release of all political prisoners wherever held. Next is the total softening of borders to allow unhindered
interaction among all regions on both sides of the Line of Control and facilitating intra and inter Kashmiri dialogue among
various regions and sects and between two kashmiris so that Kashmiris can freely build consensus about the agreement arrived
at between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and can vote in the full knowledge of what they are going for. Then demilitarization
of security forces from both civilian areas and restoration of the civil authority presently superseded by the security forces.
And finally engagement of representatives from all sections of the society with the representatives of the two countries and
international guaranteers to achieve a consensus for proceeding to the goal of the ultimate solution. The whole process must
be made time bound and not to be left to the future generations for final fulfillment. This is the only solution, practical
and realistic for this most vexed problem. Time is running out fast. Any other patchwork will only delay the periodic volcanic
eruption, which Kashmir along with the entire
sub-continent has become used to by now. However, the next eruption will have the dimensions of destructive nuclear power
and may leave nothing to be solved!