“REVISITING KASHMIR POLICY” is Being Organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) at IPRI Conference Hall, Islamabad on January 30th, 2014
Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest disputes at the UN agenda. Kashmir is not just the piece of land but it is about the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Kashmir has been misrepresented as a territorial or border issue. It is basically a human rights issue of more than ten million people. It is a pending issue since 1947 partition of the sub-continent. Kashmir has been on the top priority of Islamabad’s foreign policy since its inception. Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan have been jeopardized by this dispute. Both the countries have fought two major wars in 1948 and 1965 to resolve the Kashmir issue.
The history of Kashmir dispute shows that the UN resolutions of 1948 and 1949 which clearly states about the right of self-determination of Kashmiris have not been fully implemented due to India’s intransigence. The UN Security Council Resolution (Resolution S/1196 of January 5, 1949)reads: “The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India and Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite” to be conducted under Plebiscite Administrator appointed by Security Council. India had initially agreed to the plebiscite under UN auspices. Indian Premier Jawaharlal Nehru had assured that Kashmiris’ wishes would be honoured but these commitments were ignored.
The Simla agreement which became a basic document in India-Pakistan relations post-1971 war talks about the Line of Control and the need for two parties to respect that Line of Control instead of providing solution to the problem. The principle of bilateralism agreed to under the Simla Agreement has been violated for almost three decades by India as it is still not willing to negotiate on Kashmir Issue. The foreign mediation has been openly rejected by India claiming Kashmir issue as its internal affair. Even refusal to grant internal autonomy to Kashmiris as enshrined in article 370 of India’s constitution clearly demonstrates India’s hegemonic policies in the Indian Held Kashmir. Since 2007, the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle has turned into peaceful protests and political campaigns for their independence from Indian occupation, but India’s rigid stance has always put these mass movements into back burner.
In early 1990’s, the relations between India and Pakistan were strained due to Kashmiris freedom struggle. Both countries tried to resolve their dispute in late 1990’s, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral initiated the idea of peace process. However, the peace talks were halted by the nuclear tests of 1998. The Agra Summit of 2001 also did not achieve the desired results.
During 2004-2007, with the resumption of Indo-Pakistan peace process in the post 9/11 scenario and post Indo-Pakistan border tension and military deployment, President Musharraf did make efforts to resolve the decades old Kashmir issue. Apart from signing the agreement for ceasefire at LOC, several proposals including four-point formula was presented by Musharraf to find possible solution to the Kashmir problem through dialogue but India on the pretext of Pakistan’s alleged involvement in Mumbai attacks of 2008 suspended the whole process of diplomatic talks. Even after resumption of peace process since 2011, no concrete steps have been taken by India to solve this 66 years old dispute, which has become a potential threat to the economy, trade, security and political harmony in the South Asian region.
Glancing at the Human Rights situation in Kashmir, to crush the Kashmiri freedom struggle more than 60,000 Indian forces have been deployed in Indian Occupied Kashmir that operate under draconian laws such as POTA, TADA, AFSPA and PSA, which have given veto power to Indian army to exercise their authority to play havoc with the life, property and dignity of helpless Kashmiris. According to the Kashmir Media Service report, from January 1989 to November 2013, 93,957 innocent Kashmiris were killed including 7,014 custodial deaths, 122,541 arrests and destruction of 105,991 houses. Indian brutal security forces have made 107, 466 children orphan, 22,776 women widow and have gang raped 10,083 females in the Indian held Kashmir. Unfortunately, the world has become a silent observer over the Kashmir dispute and human rights violations in Indian Held Kashmir.
Simultaneously, Pak-India relations deteriorated owing to the hanging of Afzal Guru, State honoured funeral of Sarbjit Singh and LOC violations and cross border firing in 2013. The upcoming elections in India have opened new avenues for Pakistan to engage the new government in mutually finding meaningful grounds through which Kashmir issue could be resolved. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir clearly illustrated the fundamental position of Pakistan on the core issue of Kashmir. Addressing a news conference at London, regarding his talks with the US leaders to help resolve the long standing issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister desired that “the US should play a role.” He added that although India did not want any US role in the matter, Pakistan would want the US to play such a role. The Indian rejection of PM’s statement requiring the US role clearly reflected India’s adamant approach on the Kashmir issue and its unwillingness to conduct a sustained dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the issue. Sustainable peace, co-operation and stability in South Asia were not possible unless the two main states of India and Pakistan resolved the core issue of Kashmir.
Realizing the significance of the Kashmir issue, IPRI is organizing this conference to revisit Kashmir policy and come forward with practical recommendations to find a comprehensive solution to the Kashmir cause.