Honourable Governor of Jammu and Kashmir State Shri Satyapal Malik expressed his willingness to talk to the Huriyat Conference provided they come forward for talks without insisting on the involvement of Pakistan in the negotiation process. If Shri Satyapal Malik is putting forth the New Delhi’s views then it is softening of Indian stand on talks with the liberation camp under the framework of Indian Constitution.Yes, Pakistan is the natural party to the territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir State because she is controlling the territory of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan legally a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Obviously, in Indo-Kashmir negotiations the political future of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan will not be discussed.The Indo-Kashmir negotiation process has to focus on the political future of Kashmir, the geographical, historical, demographic, political and cultural heartland of Jammu and Kashmir State.The demand of the Kashmiri mainstream and liberation camp leadership ranges from internal sovereignty of the Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir State to internal and external sovereignty of the territory respectively. If the Government of India is sincere in permanently resolving the the Kashmir dispute, involvement of Pakistan is not necessary in the initial phase. If the Government of India agrees to restore the internal sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir State followed by a transparent referendum in the state, there is no practical need for involvement of Pakistan in such an exercise. The referendum is a must to put a popular stamp on the agreement, otherwise the negotiated solution can prove short lived like Nehru-Abdullah Accord in 1952 and Beigh-Parthasarthy Accord in 1975.
The need for involvement of Pakistan in the post-referendum era would arise only if the people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan express their desire to join back Jammu and Kashmir State. However, prior to that the Pakistan has to endorse the right of self-determination of the people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and also demilitarize the territory if the people there give a negative verdict in favour of Pakistan. In such a scenario the Srinagar has to discuss the contours of its future relationship of Kashmir with Pakistan as an immediate neighbor.The issues like the protection of Siachen Glacier, Review of Indus Water Treaty, effective Border Management and transborder transport, communication, trade and people’s movement would be some of the areas of mutual concern between Srinagar and Islamabad.To conclude, it can be said that the political leadership of all shades in Kashmir must make an effort to engage with New Delhi provided the Government of India is serious about resolution of the Kashmir dispute through Indo-Kashmir negotiation process.