Kashmir political dispute, not simple territorial issue: Anuradha

Kashmir political dispute, not simple territorial issue: Anuradha

Need to reconcile people’s interests with nations’ interests: Prof Chowdhary

JAMMU: Kashmir is not simply a territorial dispute, but a key political issue involving people of the state and thus there can be no sustainable peace between India and Pakistan without dealing with it and without involvement of the people.

This was stated by Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, the Executive Editor Kashmir Times Group of Publications while choosing to differ with the National Conference president and the former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah vis-à-vis his statement to maintain status quo on the LoC as “possible solution to Kashmir tangle.”

She was delivering keynote address in an interactive session organised in the memory of Founding Editor and Chairman Kashmir Times Group of Publications Ved Bhasin organised by J&K Forum for Peace & Reconciliation on “Good relations between India & Pakistan vital for peace in South Asia” at Hotel Asia.

“What Dr Farooq said and how he contextualized, – needs to be analysed dispassionately. He referred to Vajpayee and Musharraf and also pointed out that both the countries inched closer to a strike a deal vis-à-vis solution to Kashmir tangle. What he suggested was status-quo as a possible solution to dispute. The dispassionate analysis would reveal the complexities of the “territories”, the way maps are looked at, Chinese dimension, competing claims, other formulas like autonomy, quasi-autonomy and joint-control management etc.,” she said.

Reference was to Farooq’s statement, he yesterday made on the sidelines of a function in Jammu that “PoK is part of Pakistan and J&K will continue to be with India.”

Former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah was the chief guest while renowned gynecologist Dr Madaan presided over the function. Former minister Dr Mustafa Kamal, Jitendra Bakshi of J&K Forum for Peace & Reconciliation, eminent academician Prof Rekha Chowdhary, Dr Sucheta Pathania, Head Department of English, University of Jammu shared the presidium with other illustrious dignitaries including Anuradha.

Anuradha maintained that the issue needed to be resolved by taking people of J&K into confidence. “Both the India-Pakistan tangle and the Kashmir question are intrinsically interlinked and it would be a folly to compartmentalise the peace process by either excluding Kashmir or solely focusing on that. Kashmir is both a cause and consequence of the India-Pakistan dispute. It is not an issue about law and order, or simply a territorial dispute. It is a political dispute and involves the people of the state and cannot be resolved without the involvement of the latter. The territorial aspect, however, is no less significant,” Anuradha said.

She said that the original shape of the state, as it stood on August 1947 would need to be restored and the issue resolved by bringing peoples to the centre stage. “Negotiating the intra-state level dispute – J&K itself is demographically, culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse with it’s own complex shades, narratives and perspectives would need to be accommodated,” she suggested.

Anuradha said that the security of South Asian region, already a complex and turbulent region, had been further compounded by India-Pakistan hostility – holding South Asia to ransom.

“Peace, prosperity, security and stability of South Asia largely depend on strategic equations between New Delhi and Islamabad. Last 7 decades have been marked by – war, hostility, jingoism, rigidity. Such rigidity is not the option and not the road to peace and prosperity,” she said.

While elaborating on high and lows of India-Pakistan relations, she stressed the need to reorient peace process and redefine the way to look at the region and nation states. She stated that peace processes needed to be understood as continuing projects. “Peace cannot be achieved overnight. It needs constant talking and negotiating. It requires a composite dialogue in place. It requires talks without setting preconditions. Given that hostilities between the two countries are based on enmasse de-humanisation of the other, the peace process must look at a process of humanization that is decentralized, that is people based and people oriented. People should be central to peace processes which need to be made more inclusive for their longevity and sustainability,” Anuradha said.

While suggesting way forward, she said that the essence of normalization of relations required open-mindedness and new rational stance – away from the tragic and violent history to imagine a new beginning for the best interests of the people. She rued that Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession and India’s insistence on no talks but on terrorism often ended up stalling peace. There was need for more pragmatism and flexibility as status quo confrontationist paradigm encouraged extremist and communal forces as well as terrorism, she said.

“All the challenges faced by South Asia region require a collective response. That collective response is impossible as long as major strategic concerns are not addressed and mutual distrust exists,” she concluded.

Eminent academician Prof Rekha Chowdhary vociferously advocating people-to-people contact stressed the need to reconcile people’s interests with nations’ interests. Underscoring the importance of peace, Prof Chowdhary stated that nation- states’ interests superseded people’s interest while there was need to reconcile them while finding out any solution to dispute.

Discussing complexities of the issue, she pointed out that Musharraf was for out of box solution going beyond status-quo yet India did not want redrawing of boundaries or compromise with its sovereignty. “Vajpayee was the key person who initiated peace process which continued even during Dr Manmohan Singh’s period. In 2002-07, when borders were opened, people of two sides realized notional unity of J&K as they enjoyed special privileges of travel and trade. Interests of India and Pak are not compromised, when minds are open. When there are statesmen at the helm of affairs, there are possibilities. This was witnessed during that period, people reaped benefits of peace. IB, LoC became silent, even Musharraf talked about irrelevance of UN resolutions. There was no language of self-determination. Yet when we stopped talking, Pakistan approached United Nations and raked up issue of Kashmir, border areas witnessed violence and border residents have to bear consequences,” she noted.

Describing 2002-07 as era of hope, she said that there was link in peace and democracy as peace became an election plank in both the countries. “People are not interested in conflict which can be resolved only if the nations’ interests are linked to people’s interests,” she said.

Jatendra Bakshi in his welcome address briefed how Forum was strenuously working for bringing peace and reconciliation between two warring nations.

Dr Madaan in her presidential remarks paid glowing tributes to Ved Bhasin. She recalled him as a statesman, a journalist par excellence, human rights activist who never compromised with his principles, stuck to his ideas despite all odds and fought for the under-privileged, deprived sections, minorities. He gave voice to the voiceless through his fearless writings, she said.

Former bureaucrat and litterateur Khalid Hussain, while explaining “blowing hot and blowing cold” relations of India and Pakistan, stressed the need to promote people-to-people contact. While narrating some interesting personal experiences, he stated that the politicians entangled the issue while people of both the nations wanted cordial relations.

Prominent civil society members Aslam Qureshi, Prof Sarla Kohli echoed his sentiments.

Advocate Jameel Qazmi and litterateur SIH Kazmi warned against ignoring aspirations of people of the state in any solution to Kashmir tangle.

Dr Sucheta Pathania also gave a resume of activities of `The Action Committee for Return of Migrants’, a sister NGO of Forum. Jitender Bakshi is the president of Committee.

Renowned broadcaster and litterateur Ravindra Kaul ably conducted the proceedings.

Kashmir Times : Sunday, November 29, 2015

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