Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

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Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

As far as an international settlement is concerned, busybodies must be firmly told that there is no “dispute” over J&K other than UN-admitted aggression by Pakistan

Kashmir Hopes Rise Above Terror

More jihad over J&K may hurt India but threatens to destroy Pakistan which confronts an end-game.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald, 2 November, 2009

The contrast could not be more striking. Pakistan made a further descent into chaos and terror last week, with its Interior Ministry ranting wildly against India even as Dr Manmohan Singh spoke in firm but conciliatory tones in Srinagar about pushing for reconciliation and development in J&K through dialogue. He separated “humanitarian” from “political” issues while keeping open the door for Pakistan to join the process by abandoning cross-border terrorism. The horrendous Peshawar carnage is a message Pakistan must heed, namely, those that play with fire risk being incinerated. The very future of Pakistan is today the core issue, with “Kashmir”, a long irrelevance, becoming an albatross around its neck.

The Prime Minister spoke of facilitating enhanced trade and movement across the LOC in J&K with the provision of banking and trade facilities, trade fairs, an expanded list of tradable commodities, quicker travel clearances and speedy release of prisoners on ether side who have completed their sentences. This is what people want, not jihadi hate and terror perpetuated by vested interests who desire conflict in the name of barren ideology. He also referred to creating conditions to encourage a reverse brain drain to J&K and creating constructive openings for talent and energy through better connectivity and the guarantee of more firm power during winter. Restoration of the Mughal road and further extension of the Anantnag-Qazigund railway, just inaugurated, were also mooted.

Not mentioned but worthy of consideration would be liberal operationalisation of the Srinagar international airport and broadband connectivity to promote the development of two or three new growth poles along the Valley’s railway corridor and in the Jammu region for returning Pandits and Muslim youth who fled the State and went to study and work in other parts of India in the 1990s to avoid forced marriages and extortion or being press ganged into militancy. FICCI has just taken a group of high powered industrialists to the Valley to showcase possibilities of investment and joint ventures that could give a boost to employment and income generation in the State. IT-assisted services and agro-processing hold out great promise and there is no reason why such ventures or special economic zones should not receive counter-guarantees in respect of certain heads and for a limited period in order to provide the initial stimulus. This should e accompanied by training facilities for upgrading technical and managerial skills.

Prior to the PM’s visit to J&K, the Union Homer Minister announced the Government’s intention to promote quiet talks with all sections of opinion in J&K that abjure violence so as to build a consensus leading to an internal settlement in J&K The emphasis on quiet talks is important as previous deliberations under the full glare of publicity has short circuited the talks and led to futile grandstanding and blackmail by ideological spoilers at home and terrorists and Pakistani agencies across the LOC. These elements will of course need to be confronted as soon as the ground is well prepared. The Hurriyat has been invited to talk and can no more equivocate or claim a veto.

Pakistan can have no role in these internal talks, which could cover issues of human rights, reconciliation, disappearances, compensation and justice where due, centre-state relations and regional autonomy. Pakistan’s own constitutional relationship with Pak Administered Kashmir, let alone the newly designated Gilgit-Baltistan region is abysmal and blatantly colonial as a reading of the two constitutions imposed on them by Islamabad amply reveal. But it is up to Pakistan to order its own relationships with the areas under its control across the LOC.

As far as an international settlement is concerned, busybodies must be firmly told that there is no “dispute” over J&K other than UN-admitted aggression by Pakistan. The US too should be reminded that it has recognized India’s sovereignty over all of J&K (refer Warren Austen in the Security Council), a position unilaterally changed by it after Pakistan became a “frontline” state around 1949, and further compounded by its gratuitous cartographic fiddling in the Siachen area post-1967 through the US Defence Mapping Agency.

The framework of an international settlement has in principle been agreed to in the Manmohan-Musharraf formulation “making boundaries (the LOC) irrelevant” without derogating from either country’s sovereignty. An extension of the LOC beyond NJ 9842, the last point demarcated under the Karachi Agreement of July1949, “thence north to the glaciers” without admitting of any no-man’s land, constitutes an unambiguous and sanctified delineation of the northern terminus of this boundary.

The highly glaciated area beyond Pakistan’s fictitious latter-day “claim line” from NJ 9842 NE to just west of the Karakoram Pass, and the region west of the Indian AGPL up to K2, should then be converted into a Peace and Science Park for international glaciological, hydrological and meteorological studies in order to study potential impacts of climate change and take appropriate countermeasures. Participation in two recent high level Track II dialogues with Pakistan has once again shown how empty and uninformed their rhetoric is about India’s alleged evil designs on their share of Indus waters and the Indus Treaty generally. The future now lies in moving to joint cooperation in the investigation, development and management of projects in the upper three Western rivers of the Indus, whose headwaters lie in India, under Article 7 of the IWT.

The way forward is clear. J&K is not an “Islamic” problem and the OIC has absolutely no role to play. More jihad over J&K may hurt India but threatens to destroy Pakistan which confronts an end-game.

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