From: Gopal Sachar
An air of uncertainty is looming large over the future of Jammu and Kashmir. This confusion has been confounded by the silence of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre despite the fact that certain foreign diplomats are indulging in rhetoric for search of a solution to the ?Kashmir problem? and some Kashmiri leaders along with the separatists are dancing to the tunes of Pakistan suggesting ?self-rule? in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir with joint control of India and Pakistan.
Recently, Delhi-based American embassy organised a meeting on Kashmir. Those who took part in this closed-door exchange of views also reportedly included vice-chairman of the House of Representatives, International Relations Committee on Asia Pacific, Don Burton and 15 other US Congressmen, National Conference President Omar Abdullah, All Party Hurriyat Conference (A) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Information Commissioner, Government of India Wajahit Habibullah, Delhi police group director, Radha Kumar, human rights activists Madhu Keshwar and a few others.
The Kashmir PDP President Mehbooba Mufti did not take part in the meeting. Though she was invited, she favoured a solution with parameters of both India'sand Pakistan'sstandpoints.
Almost all those who participated in this meet managed by US diplomats had always been controversial and tried to be swayed with the views keeping Jammu and Kashmir away from India as could be possible.
The theory was created virtually by Pakistan when its military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf had mooted the division of Jammu and Kashmir into seven zones on communal and sectarian basis with joint control of India and Pakistan with their ?self-rule?.
The leaders of the Hurriyat Conference (A) supported the suggestion of General Musharraf. The PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti also toyed with the idea of self-rule.
In this background, the National Conference President Umar Abdullah also made a significant statement that his party demands for autonomy to the state, which is not different from the demand of ?self-rule?. In this regard he pointed out that the state legislature had adopted the Autonomy Committee Report over four years ago. This report also suggested the division of the state of the Indian side into eight zones with New Delhi having the only control of defence, foreign affairs and communications. He even hinted to meet with General Musharraf to discuss their theory of autonomy.
The former NDA government led by BJP had rejected this autonomy report despite the fact that National Conference at that time was also a partner in the coalition. But now things are developing in a strange manner amidst reports that the Centre is prepared to grant greater autonomy for the state in light of the Sheikh-Indira accord of 1975, which provided for reviewing of the laws and constitutional provisions extended to Jammu and Kashmir, after 1953, when Sheikh was deposed and arrested.
These reports got some credence when on the eve of the 100th birthday of Sheikh Mohmmad Abdullah, the new Chief Minister of J & K Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also a senior Congress leader, made a statement that the time has come for fulfilling the dreams of the late Sheikh.
Although Sheikh had supported the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with Indian Union, later on he made things confusing by making contradictory statements. His statements and insistance for limited accession with Indian Union had caused a big agitation in early fifties by the Jammu and Kashmir Praja Parishad. This was supported by the main opposition in Parliament, the then Jan Sangh, which was led by Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee. This agitation had resulted in a country-wide resentment.
The situation had climaxed and Sheikh was deposed and put behind the bars on August 9, 1953, by his own colleagues who were supported by the Congress. He remained in jail for many years and resumed power in 1975 with the support of the Congress in wake of the Indira-Sheikh accord.
What were the dreams of Sheikh are anybody'sconvenience, but his successors Dr Farooq Abdullah and Umar Abdullah, President of the National Conference-too have not been steadfast on their approach. Like the late Sheikh they too have been wavering.
Now when in the name of peace process many proposals are being mooted, even the National Conference, the PDP of the former Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed as also the separatists are resorting to statements that smack more of delinking Kashmir from India than to take forward the integration process, which was started in 1954 after the removal of Sheikh from power.
The uncertainty is developing not only because of the statements of mainstream politicians but also due to their semblance with the proposals being mooted by Pakistan and getting support from certain foreign diplomats who are known for anti-India approach.
Many are intrigued over the Pak slogan of ?self-rule? and that of the joint control over Jammu and Kashmir. They point out that in this state there is an elected government and in the past too there had been many elected governments. But in Pakistan there has been military rule and General Musharraf is a symbol of that. Before talking any self-rule, Pakistan should first have such a rule in Pakistan held areas, particularly in the North-West Frontier, which are under direct rule of Pakistan and the people of these areas have never seen a ballot.