Necessity of dialogue to resolve Kashmir issue

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

Hurriyat chairmanMirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday 19 May 2019 said at the seminar in Srinagar that “he was hopeful that the new government in Delhi will engage with the Hurriyat leadership in Kashmir and he will offer support”. Engagement and dialogue are the only instruments used by all civilizations to resolve their disputes in history. India, Pakistan and Kashmir can’t be an exception to this rule.

However, Kashmir Case has its own features, which include, rights and dignity, security and self-determination.  India has at one point offered ‘sky is the limit’ to Kashmiri leadership.  There have been public and private talks with the Government of India. Kashmiri leadership walked into these talks without any full discussion within their respective parties and strangely did not invite any independent expert outside input. 

The leaders who have been meeting the Indian officials at different levels in their day to day politics in Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi, appeared across the table in Delhi to discuss with the political leadership of India. There was no surprise for Indian side and these meetings ended in a small protocol and brief exchange.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Gilani, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Yasin Malik, Aasiya Andrabi and all others need our support in structuring any dialogue. But leadership does not have the carte blanche to fly to Delhi ‘with no holds barred’.

We welcome the offer of a dialogue made to Delhi and should support it. However, Mirwaiz has got it wrong at the very beginning of his offer. His view that “India needed to hold people-to-people talks and carry on trade with Pakistan for the larger good of Jammu and Kashmir” and that “this will set the ground for the resolution of the Kashmir issue in which India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people are stakeholders”, is flawed at source.

The subterranean flow of this approach reads out as if Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan. Which, it is not. United States of America at the 227th meeting of the Security Council held on 15 January 1948, had advised India and Pakistan, that in addition to making their respective cases before the Security Council on Kashmir, they should place their case before the public (people in general) at the same time. We have yet to take our case to the public around the world.

People to People dialogue in Kashmir or trade with Pakistan have never stopped. We admit that there may have been hiccups and fluctuations in the scale of this dialogue and trade. Kashmir dispute has passed the test of trade and dialogue. It stands stuck at a point of procedure and we have just to resolve the eagle-spread maintained by parties on the question of demilitarization.

Hurriyat should be pushing for a resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan, to carry out demilitarization. In the meantime Hurriyat and other Kashmiri leadership should flag the massive concentration of Indian forces seen in Kashmir and their daily engagement in killing the Youth of Kashmir.

Mirwaiz of today is different and has graduated since his first appearance at the Islamic Summit in Casablanca, Morocco in December 1994. Politics and political narrative needs to be refreshed and updated every morning. He would not have got it wrong again if he had pulled together his team for a well-considered opinion on ‘armed’ struggle. He has got it wrong when he said, “Emotions and repressions are driving the educated youth of Kashmir towards armed means of resistance, as every scope for raising voices peacefully stands choked.” Militancy or armed resistance started as a genuine component of Kashmir struggle in early 1990, while as Hurriyat formed itself into a Constitutional discipline on 31 July 1993.

We have been owning the armed struggle all these years. It has remained a legitimate component of Kashmir politics and at times an overwhelming influence. It seems that we are offering a quid pro quo to India to entertain our offer for a dialogue. Political and armed components of Kashmir struggle may have made errors in judgment and errors in strategy, but we should not disown their interchangeable influences. There is no need to feel shy about it. If at all, we need to feel sorry, it should be about handing over 100000 Kashmir youth to Indian security forces to be killed.

It is partly correct that “India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people are stakeholders” but this short list of stake holders would continue to wrong Kashmir case. Hurriyat needs to update itself on the interpretation of Kashmir case. It should use the narrative that strengthens us and weakens India in her efforts to distance away from United Nations mechanism on Kashmir.

United Nations has identified six stake holders in Kashmir. These include “Pakistan, insurgents, tribesmen, Government of India, other inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir and the outside world.” (241st UN Security Council Meeting held on 5 February 1948). Insurgents of February 1948, could be interpreted as militants of 1990. Mirwaiz has to differentiate between actions of ‘government forces ‘and ‘encounters’. In both cases it is a State Subject that is killed by Indian security forces, conditionally admitted into Kashmir and under seven restraints.

There is an urgent need that Hurriyat offers itself for a full overhaul and internal audit of its achievements and failures. It has to check its progress against the mandate set out in its Constitution and the Kashmir Case as it stands at the UN or as it is reflected in article 370 of Indian Constitution and article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan and AJK Act 1974. Government of Pakistan, Government of Azad Kashmir, people of Azad Kashmir and GB and the Kashmiri Diaspora, also need to revisit the quality and dignity of their support to the Kashmir case.

People of India, the civil society of India and the Kashmiri Pandits outside Kashmir have a role to play in Kashmir. It would be fair and equitous, if Kashmiri Pandits revert to the advice given by Nehru, during his Kashmir visit. The plight of five generations of Kashmiri Muslim refugees living in Pakistan, continues to go unnoticed. The question of displaced Kashmiri Pandits and five generations of displaced Kashmiri Muslims should be reconciled as provided in the UN Security Council Resolution of 21 April 1948.

(The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.)