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Kashmir Issue: Regional & Global Dimension


By: Daily.Pk

WITH every passing conference, we have constantly strived to improve
ourselves owing to a belief that stagnation leads to decline. Onwards
from that, the Tenth International Kashmir Peace Conference shares the
eternal commitment and resolve of encouraging a peaceful resolution to
the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir in which the aspirations of
the people of Kashmir may be paramount.

However, it does so in the spirit of reconciliation, not confrontation;
equality, not discrimination; and hope, not despair. It is our firm
conviction that wisdom will guide decisions rather than myth,
superstition or deceit.

Overall, our purpose is to encourage the bringing together of scholars,
academics, diplomats, from India, Pakistan and Kashmir as well as
policy making personalities in Washington, D.C. Our spirit is of
understanding, our heart is motivated by justice for Kashmiri peoples’
right of self-determination and mind recognizes the necessity of
building bridges of peace and avoiding war. We are optimistic that this
conference is only the first step, in the long journey towards peace,
which may, realistically, only be achievable by establishing a peace
process that includes the governments of India, Pakistan as well as the
accredited leadership of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

This may not happen without the deeper engagement of the United States
with both India and Pakistan. We have invited distinguished delegates
from India, Pakistan and from both sides of the Ceasefire Line in
Kashmir. They undoubtedly have varied and diverse experiences and
expertise. So we do expect different presentations during the
conference. It is simply because there are more than one parties
involved with the dispute.

In having the distinguished speakers from India, Pakistan and Kashmir
share the podium, we want the beginning of a dialogue that can truly
lead us out of the terrifying situation into a peaceful and diplomatic
resolution. So the objective of the conference is to create an
atmosphere for dialogue – the dialogue that should take place between
people with different opinions and different sides in conflict.

This means making sure that there is a peace process in south Asia and
there is free exchange of views and opinions, however, different but in
an atmosphere that is free from fear, terror, intimidation and most
importantly devoid of any blame game and accusation.

Hence, the aims and objectives of this conference are not to speak
against one government or another. On the contrary, our main purpose is
to facilitate a sincere dialogue in the form of a peace process to
resolve the Kashmir issue that will ultimately bring peace and
prosperity not only to Kashmir but also to the region of South Asia –
home to one fifth of total human race.

So our primary motivation is: to establish a peace process that
includes major stakeholders along with the movers and shakers in
Pakistan, India and Kashmir. In that regard, we are entirely aware that
a peace process has been initiated between India and Pakistan. That
peace process has chosen to emphasize confidence building measures,
increased economic trade and bus travel between Srinagar and
Muzzaffarabad.

Following the first high-level meeting of government officials from
both countries, some success was achieved in recognizing the following
key principles: First, a commitment to peaceful methods of conflict
resolution in South Asia; Second, rejection of all forms of extremism
that are engulfing Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Kashmir; Third, a
just resolution concerning the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the
will and wishes of the people of the territory.

The importance of these peace initiatives cannot be overstated,
particularly when considering the link between stability and American
socio-economic and geo-political interests. Sadly, the potential for
violence is ever-present which could catapult South Asia towards
uncontrollable de-stabilization. The requisite need for Obama
Administration with all other stakeholders is to prevent the further
destabilization of south Asia and fulfill its moral obligation to
mandate a peace process in Kashmir thereby, also protecting American
interests in the region.

Here it is important to note that there has always been bipartisan
expression of support for the U.S. position toward Kashmir. It is
apparent from: When the Kashmir dispute erupted in 1948, the United
States championed the stand that the future status of Kashmir must be
ascertained in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people
of the territory. The U.S. was a principal sponsor of the resolution #
47, which was adopted by the Security Council on 21 April 1948, and
which was based on that unchallenged principle.

Following the resolution, the U.S. as a leading member of the United
Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, adhered to that stand. The
clarification made by President George W. Bush on February 22, 2006
that the United States supports a solution of the Kashmir disput
acceptable not only to India and Pakistan but also to “citizens of
Kashmir.”

As a candidate President Obama said “I will continue support of ongoing
Indian Pakistani efforts to resolve Kashmir problem in order to address
the political roots of the arms race between India and Pakistan;” He
also mentioned on October 30, 2008, “We should probably try to
facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to
resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India,
but on the situation with those militants.”

US Under-secretary of State, William Burns, said in New Delhi on June
18th, 2009 that ‘“The US favours resumption of dialogue between India
and Pakistan and wants the Kashmir problem to be solved keeping in view
the aspirations of the Kashmiri people”. And Secretary of State, Mrs.
Hillary Clinton said in Mumbai, India on July 18, 2009 in, “The
decision (on Kashmir) has to be between India and Pakistan and it must
take into account feelings of people of Kashmir.”

The urgent necessities to help put the issue of Kashmir on the road to
a settlement are:

(i). India and Pakistan must include the genuine leadership of the
State of Jammu and Kashmir in all future talks between these two
countries. That means that talks need to be tripartite – India,
Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.

(ii). Without detracting from the necessity of trilateral negotiations,
Kashmiri leadership should be ready for a preparatory dialogue with the
Indian Government provided an environment of non-violence is
established.

This can be done by:

a. The immediate and complete cessation of military and Para-military
actions against the civilians’ population;

b. Withdrawal of the military presence from towns and villages;

c. Dismantling of bunkers, watch towers and barricades;

d. Releasing of political prisoners, including Mr. Shabir Ahmed Shah
whose only crime is his reconciliatory efforts to bring two Hurriyet
Conferences closer;

e. Annulling various special repressive laws;

f. Permitting to travel abroad without hindrance, Kashmiri leadership
who favor a peaceful resolution; g. Issuing visas to the Diaspora
Kashmiri leadership to visit Jammu and Kashmir to help sustain the
peace process.

(iii). There cannot be and should not be any condition from any party,
other than commitment to non-violence and to negotiations.

(iv). In order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks, Kashmir
needs to be demilitarized one hand and de-terrorized on the other.

(v). During the latest phase of the freedom struggle, in particular in
2008 & 2009, virtually whole population of Srinagar (capital city of
Kashmir) – men, women and children – came out dozens of times on the
streets to lodge a non-violent protest against the continuance of
Indian occupation.

At times, the number of people exceeded 1 million. Certainly,
terrorists cannot compose the entire populations of the major towns of
Kashmir. And one million people reflect the true nature of the
spontaneous, indigenous, non-violent and peaceful Kashmiri resistance
movement and not a movement of terrorism.

This popular, indigenous and non-violent movement in Kashmir needs to
be supported and acknowledged by the international community to help
push a fair settlement of the lingering Kashmir dispute. If we want the
real peace, if we want the sincere settlement of the Kashmir problem
then all parties to the dispute – India, Pakistan and the people of
Kashmir – will have to show some flexibility, will have to make some
sacrifices and will have to modify their stand on Kashmir.

It is almost impossible to find a solution of Kashmir problem that
respects all the sensitivities of Pakistan, that values all the
sentiments of India and that keeps in tact the whole state of Jammu and
Kashmir.

But does that mean that we cannot find an imaginative solution of the
Kashmir problem. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. But that solution demands
flexibility, sacrifices and modification of the stated positions of all
parties concerned.

Now is the time for the Obama administration to develop its positive
and principled approach to the Kashmir problem into a tangible
strategy. In this regard, an appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir
would go a long way to hasten the progress of peace and reconciliation
in the region of South Asia, particularly India, Pakistan &
Afghanistan.

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