JAMMU AND KASHMIR FORUM FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION

A Brief History of Kashmir Conflict:-As a consequence of partition of the British India on the basis of religion and emergence of two sovereign countries of India and Pakistan in the immediate neighbourhood of the erstwhile princely state of Jammand Kashmir in mid-August 1947, the Dogra kingdom became the arena of geopolitical rivalry between the two hostile countries. Following the approval of the Partition Plan of the British India on 3rd June 1947, both Maharaja Hari Singh and his Prime Minister Pandit Ramchandra Kak were interested in continuing the sovereign statues of the Jammu and Kashmir. Acting upon the advice of the senior Congress leadership, Lord Mountbatten replaced Pandit Ramchandra Kak on 11th August 1947. Shri Meharchand Mahajan, the new Prime Minister of Dogra kingdom offered the Stand Still Agreement on behalf of Maharaja Hari Singh to both India and Pakistan through an identical telegram on 12th August 1947. The Government of Pakistan accepted the Agreement in principle pending details, but the Government of India suggested Maharaja Hari Singh to send some Cabinet Minister to New Delhi to discuss the details of the proposal. Maharaja Hari Singh was yet to send his representative to New Delhi to finalise the details of the Agreement, the Pakistani tribal raid occurred on 22nd October and proclamation of the establishment of Azad Government of Jammu and Kashmir led by Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan was made by the Poonch-Mirpur warriors on 24th October 1947. On 24th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh deputed Shri Meherchand Mahajan to New Delhi to seek military assistance from the Government of India. The New Delhi however, put the preconditions of prior accession of Jammu and Kashmir with Indian Union and the induction of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in the state administration. Early on the morning of 27th October 1947 the Maharaja submitted the Instrument of Accession of his kingdom with the Indian Union with respect to three subjects namely defense, foreign affairs and communication. He in the covering letter of the Instrument of Accession made it abundantly clear that the provisions of the future Constitution of Indian other than the areas covered in the accession would not be a binding on his government. He further assured the Government of India to induct Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in the Emergency Administration of Jammu and Kashmir State. In reply to the accession of Jammu and Kashmir State, Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India, remarked that the subject of accession will be referred to the people of the sate as law and order is restored in the state. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made a statement on All India Radio on 2nd November 194,that the wishes of the people will be ascertained once law and order situation improves in the state. Since the British army officers posted on both sides were reluctant to fight a formal war on Jammu and Kashmir so Mountbatten referred Kashmir conflict under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, to the United Nations on 31st December, 1947. The United Nations Commission for India could achieve nothing except for concluding a Cease Fire Line between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir on 1st January 1949.

Failure of Indian Mainstream Political Parties in Resolving Kashmir Conflict:-

In order to end Dogra autocracy from the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference led by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was left with no other option because of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s pro-Maharaja policy than to ally with the Government of India led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The political support of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah to the princely state’s accession with Indian Union on 27th October 1947 made National Conference morally duty bound to support Indian control over Jammu and Kashmir State. The National Conference led by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad institutionalized the legal and constitutional relationship of Jammu and Kashmir State in the form of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir implemented by Bakhsh Ghulam Mohammad Government on 26th January 1957. However, soon after this New Delhi started the process of the erosion of internal sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir State. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beigh challenged the validity of the Instrument of Accession in 1953 but more than two decades later they accepted under Beigh-Partharsarth Accord in 1975 the finality of accession of the state with the country. The National Conference led by Dr Farooq Abdullah is raising the issue of Greater Autonomy during the election season to win the support of Kashmiri Muslims. The secular opposition forces have joined their hand to establish the Peoples Democratic Party led by late Mufti Mohammad Syeed and her daughter Mehboba Mufti in 1998.The state political goal of Peoples Democratic Party is to struggle for the realization of Self-Rule in the state. The other pro-Autonomy political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are Communist Party of India (Marxist), Peoples Conference led by Sajjad Ghani Lone, Peoples Democratic Front led by Hakim Mohammad Yaseen and other small parties. The leadership of all these essentially Kashmir based political parties no doubt raises the issue of erosion of  autonomy during the election campaign, but do practically nothing to pursue this goal seriously.

Failure of Liberation Seeking Organizations in Resolution of Kashmir Conflict:-

The Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front established by Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beigh on 9th August 1955 was the first political party of the Jammu and Kashmir state to demand liberation from India. After the dissolution of the Plebiscite Front in 1975 the hard core pro-Pakistan and pro-independence forces like Jamat-e-Islami led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani,, Jamiat-ul-Tulba led by Sheikh Tajamul Islam, Muslim Conference led by Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat and Muslim League led Shabir Ahmad Shah fought the 1987 Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly elections under the banner of Muslim United Front. The militancy in Jammu and Kashmir State was started in July 1988 by the Muslim United Front candidates and their political workers, who were defeated through rigging by National Conference-Congress alliance and coerced by the civil administration and state police during Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly elections on 23rd March 1987. These Kashmiri victims of Indian establishment decided in desperation to seek armed help from Pakistan to liberate the territory from the Indian control. Once these pro-liberation political forces agreed to accept the Pakistani logistical support to launch an armed revolt in Kashmir against India, they lost the moral authority to challenge the Kashmir policy of that country. Thus the Indian mainstream political camp and the liberation camp are helpless in prevailing over their masters at New Delhi and Islamabad respectively to stop the undeclared war and bloodshed in Kashmir.

Urgency of Conflict Resolution in Jammu and Kashmir State:-

Over the past seven decades in general and the last three decades in particular, Kashmir has became virtually the battleground of India and Pakistan. The two countries have their collaborators in the state who have developed vested interests to continue this bloodshed in the conflict ridden territory. The Indian mainstream politicians in Kashmir are interested in assuming the political power in the state with the help of New Delhi, whereas the liberation camp is interested in obtaining political power in the state with the help of Pakistan, as the Muslim leadership of this camp is reluctant to continue the accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Indian Union. The consequences of the undeclared Indo-Pak war in Kashmir going on for the last three decades have been very dangerous for the conflict-ridden state. More than one lakh people have died in the Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir over the past three decades. Thousands of people have been seriously injured, maimed and blinded and more than one lakh human shelters have been destroyed in the state due to the collateral damage to life and property of the residents of the troubled state. The important socio-economic sectors of Kashmir like education, health, tourism, retail trade, handloom and handicrafts have been negatively impacted. The people of Jammu and Kashmir State in general and the people living in Kashmir Valley and along the Line of Control and International border with Pakistan have been very badly caught in a precarious situation and don’t know how to come out of the ongoing bloodshed and political uncertainty in the state.

Framework for Conflict Resolution in Jammu and Kashmir State:-

The Politically conscious civil society members of Jammu and Kashmir State belonging to different fields of life such as academics, mass media, legal fraternity, bureaucracy, art and culture, professional and technical fields and trade and commerce have decided to establish the JAMMU AND KASHMIR FORUM FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION (JKFCR) to prevail upon the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute under the framework of Standstill Agreement offered to both India and Pakistan on 12th August 1947. However, if the two countries require some more time to have negotiated settlement of the territorial dispute over Kashmir, in that case the Government of India would be approached to start Indo-Kashmir negotiation process to resolve the political dispute between Srinagar and New Delhi under the framework of limited accession of Jammu and Kashmir State with Indian Union submitted by Maharaja Hari Singh to the Government of India on 27th October 1947. The details of short term and long term conflict resolution processes will be published soon in the VISION DOCUMENT of the JKFCR.

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