THE TWO-POINT FORMULA FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION: A PARADIGM SHIFT IN POLITICAL DISCOURSE ON J&K STATE

The current political discourses on Jammu and Kashmir State include the demand for ‘Right of Self-determination’ for the people of the erstwhile princely state made by the liberation camp led by Joint Resistance Leadership and the ‘Greater Autonomy’ and ‘Self-Rule’ demanded by the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party respectively. The demand for people’s right of self-determination based on the UN Security Council Resolutions exclude the option of an independent nationhood for the people of Jammu and Kashmir State. The National Conference talks about ‘1952-Position’ of Jammu and Kashmir State because from 9th August 1953 onwards Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was removed from the political scene in the state. The ‘Self-Rule’ of People’s Democratic Party is yet another version of ‘Autonomy’ for the conflict-ridden state. The Jammu and Kashmir National League while approaching the Kashmir Conflict from the realistic perspective, has identified the interrelated political and security components of the Kashmir Problem. The political aspect of the Kashmir Conflict is related to the step by step erosion of the original Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir State adopted by the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly on 17th November 1956 and after the concurrence of President of India, implemented by the Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad Government on 26th January 1957. The security component is related to the mismanagement of the Indo-Pak border along the Line of Control on which large scale exfilitration and infiltration has been occurring since 1988.The Jammu and Kashmir National League has accordingly devised the two-point conflict resolution strategy for the restoration of peace with dignity in Jammu and Kashmir State.

The Logic Behind Accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Indian Union:-

The Line of Control separating Indian part of erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir from the Pakistani part of the state is not just a line of administrative jurisdiction but the line separating the people having two distinct ideologies and sentiments apart from their historical, ethnic, lingual and cultural differences. The Ladakhies led by Kushuk Bakula, Kashmiries led by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Jammuites led by Maharaja Hari Singh stood for accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with secular India in October 1947, whereas the people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan resorted to secession from Jammu and Kashmir State and accession with Muslim Pakistan. The decision of the three senior leaders was based on the ground reality in the three regions and the vision of a shared future. Since the majority in Ladakh region comprised of Buddhists, and in Jammu region Hindus and Sikhs after the secession of Muslims, became the majority, so the accession of these two regions with Hindu majority India was quite natural. The Kashmiri Muslims struggled under the banner of National Conference led by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah for establishing a sovereign country, but the reluctance of Maharaja Hari Singh to establish a democratic government in Jammu and Kashmir State and the Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s undemocratic attitude towards National Conference compelled Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to ally with Indian National Congress led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

The National Conference was established on 11th June 1939 as a secular political party to bring the people of Jammu and Kashmir State under one banner irrespective of their region and religion. In 1944 the party released its ‘New Kashmir’ Manifesto and in May1946 Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah started the Quit Kashmir Movement, to overthrow Maharaja Hari Singh and establish an autonomous, secular, democratic, socialist government in the former Dogra kingdom. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was arrested in May 1946 but released on 29th September 1947, following his letter of apology to Maharaja Hari Singh on 27th September 1947. To thwart the designs of Maharaja Hari Singh to have accession of the Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir State with India, with the political support of Sheikh Mohammad Abduallah, the Pakistani agencies sent tribal raiders to annex Kashmir on 22nd October 1947. The autocratic ruler was left with no option but to accede to Indian Union with respect to defence, foreign affairs and communication to seek military assistance from India on 27th October 1947. Upon the insistence of New Delhi, Maharaja Hari Singh was obliged to hand over the state administration to Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah on 29th October 1947 and upgrade him from Emergency Administrator to Prime Minister on 6th March1948.

The Logic Behind Partition of Jammu and Kashmir State through the Line of Control:-

The Kashmir Conflict between India and Pakistan was referred to the UN by Lord Mountbatten the Governor General of India on 31st December 1947. The UN Security Council passed the Resolution on 21st April 1948 recommending to Pakistan to demilitarize completely the territory of erstwhile princely state ofJammu and Kashmir and asking India to optimize the number of troops in the state necessary to maintain law and order in the state, so that a two-option plebiscite is held in the state under UN supervision to determine whether the majority wanted to live with India or join Pakistan. Since Pakistan did not demilitarize the territory over the past seven decades so the plebiscite could not be held in the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The United Nations Security Council appointed the Commission for India and Pakistan to facilitate the cessation of Indo-Pak hostilities in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. When the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan implemented the Cease Fire Line between India and Pakistan on 1st January 1949, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ensured that the Pahari and Gujjari speaking areas as well as the Balti and Shina speaking areas of Dardistan and Baltistan be kept on the Pakistani side of the Cease Fire Line because Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had his influence on the Kashmiri speaking people only. The so-called Azad Kashmir was the support base of Muslim Conference led by Choudhry Ghulam Abbass. The Gilgit-Baltistan was under the British Gilgit Agency from 1935 to July 1947 and the local Mirs and Rajas were ruling various principalities as autonomous rulers segregated front Kashmir Valley by very high mountains. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had no influence in Gilgit-Baltistan as well. So the Cease Fire Line between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir divided the people having not only the differences of ethnicity and language but were also ideologically distinct from each other. In 1965 the Pakistan sent its warriors in Kashmir in advance to facilitate the necessary ground work prior to a war with India, and soon after that a formal war between the two countries was fought but under Tashkent Agreement the two countries agreed to maintain status quo along the Cease Fire Line. After the Indo-Pak War in East Pakistan in 1971, the two countries signed the Shimla Agreement in 1972 under which the internationally recognized Cease Fire Line was given the bilateral recognition as the Line of Control.

The Mismanagement of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir State:-

Running through the mountainous topography the Line of Control partitioning the Pakistan controlled Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Balitistan from Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir State, is the mismanaged and the most dangerous border in the world. The sanctity of this border has been violated three times by Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and 1999. India has also violated it in the Siachen Glacier in 1986. The infiltration and exfiltration by the Kashmiri youth to seek arms training and arms and ammunition from the Pakistan controlled territory from 1968 in general and since July 1988 has been a big security issue for the Government of Jammu and Kashmir State. As a result of infiltration along the Line of Control by the Pakistan trained Kashmiri youth and Pakistani nationals the peace and security has became the biggest casualty in spite of the presence six lakh India troops in Jammu and Kashmir State. Over the past three decades more than one lakh people have been killed; thousands of the people have been seriously injured, maimed and blinded; and more than one lakh human shelters have been destroyed in the state because of the Pakistan sponsored guerrilla war and the counter insurgency operations by the Indian troops. Since both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, the chance of a formal war between the two countries is not in the realm of possibility, but Pakistan is adamant to continue its low cost guerrilla war in Jammu and Kashmir State to bleed India. Since the guerrilla war and counter insurgency operations are taking place on the Kashmiri soil so the collateral death and destruction of property of Kashmiri people during the armed conflict is inevitable. If the armed conflict continued for longer period of time, its implications for the Kashmiri nation would be far more serious.

The Two-Point Formula for Conflict Resolution in Jammu and Kashmir State:-

The Government of India has passed the resolution in both houses of the parliament in 1994 that the Pakistan controlled territory of Jammu and Kashmir State is an integral part of the India. The Government of Pakistan makes similar claims about the Indian controlled territory of Jammu and Kashmir State. The hard fact of the history is that in spite of its four wars with India, Pakistan could not take even an inch from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir State. The Government of India is not also realistic in its claims to secure the territory of Jammu and Kashmir State from Pakistan, being also a nuclear power. The Kashmiri nation can’t afford its continued human killings and injuries, destruction of property, loss of education of young generation and the loss of avenues of employment and income for long. It is therefore suggested to make some realignment of the Line of Control to convert it into the permanent border between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir State. In case an amicable settlement of the border issue is not possible and Pakistan is unwilling to stop guerrilla warfare in Kashmir, it is very important to construct the Great Wall of Kashmir along the Line of Control to stop the exflitration and infiltration along the porous border between the two countries in the state. There can be proper gates at various points in the proposed wall for legal movement of people and goods across the border but the illegal human movement and transportation of banned items must be stopped completely so as to ensure the peace and security in Jammu and Kashmir State. The erection of a concrete wall along the Line of Control will help in drastically reducing the number of security guards on the border and will help in completely demilitarizing the inhabited areas of Jammu and Kashmir State.

Since there is not only a security challenge in Jammu and Kashmir State but the Kashmir Conflict has a political dimension as well. The erosion of the internal sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir State is the main reason behind alienation of Kashmiri people towards the New Delhi. The Cold War super power geopolitical interests in Jammu and Kashmir State and the involvement of Pakistan in the Indo- Kashmir dispute has complicated its peaceful resolution.  Given the far more superior military might and economic strength of India as compared to Pakistan as well as the nuclear deterrent with the two countries, the independence of Jammu and Kashmir State or its accession with Pakistan is not possible. In fact no territorial solution is possible, be it India taking the control of Pakistan controlled part of Jammu and Kashmir or Pakistan taking control over Indian controlled Muslim dominated state or the two countries agreeing to demilitarize the Jammu and Kashmir State to make it a sovereign country. It is therefore very important to find the political solution of the Indo-Kashmir political dispute. The restoration of the provisions of the original Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir State implemented in the state on 26th January 1957 is the best solution of Kashmir Conflict. The construction of the Great Wall of Kashmir and the restoration of 1957-Position of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir State are the two important steps needed to diffuse the Kashmir Conflict on permanent basis. The Government of India must take both the suggestions very seriously to alleviate the sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir State as the citizens of Indian Union.

The author can be reached at ghathar@yahoo.co.in