Intro: As Modi wave sweeps India, people set their eyes on how this political churning will evolve Jammu and Kashmir
For the man who had been pursuing the electorate of India for the past 18 months to vote for his growth and development agenda to change the fate of the country, the support has come in such large numbers that he has made the bigwigs and established politicians bite dust. Finally, Narendra Modi, will be the new prime minister of India and the BJP- led NDA is poised to form the government at the centre. The big feat is a historic moment for Indian democracy and the electorate now have their eyes set on the new government as it sets its agenda for the next five years.
As the political scenario changes, it will be interesting to know how this political churning will evolve in Jammu and Kashmir where BJP-PDP combine has whitewashed National Congress Party and Congress completely. The people will be interested to know what would be the approach of the new government with regard to Jammu and Kashmir? And how would the government go about addressing issues concerning the state in view of the changed political scenario?
The status of Article 370 will now emerge as a central issue since its abrogation is the stated policy of the BJP Because if the BJP utilises its majority in parliament to push for abrogation of Article 370 the combined mainstream and separatist forces in the Kashmir valley is expected to create unprecedented turmoil.
Satinder K Lambah, a career diplomat, has been Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan. Since his superannuation, he has been actively involved as Indian interlocutor for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has been special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan from the office of the Prime Minister of India since 2005.
On May, 13, 2014, just a few days prior to the counting of votes for the recently held Lok Sabha polls, Satinder Lambah spoke at Kashmir University about Track-II efforts in search for a possible solution for the Kashmir issue. While admitting that India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir is legally, politically and historically correct, he listed seven points that could give a “possible outline” for a “solution to the problem.”
The seven points are – no redrawing of borders; free movement on both sides of the line of control; removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers on locally produced goods; minimum military presence on both sides; self governance for internal management and respect for human rights including reintegration of militants in society.
The concept of “no redrawing of borders” does not stand logical, ethical and moral scrutiny when large territories of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir are under illegal occupation of Pakistan and China. This matter gains criticality when viewed in the context of the gross colonisation, exploitation and human rights violation perpetrated on these occupied territories by successive Pakistani regimes. Whosoever may occupy the seat of power in Pakistan, a democratic government or a dictatorship, one thing that remains common is exploitation of the people and natural resources of Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan! It should not be forgotten that the hapless people of these regions who are suffering untold atrocities in the hands of the Pakistani state are Indian citizens whom the country is obligated to protect.
The Indian parliament on February, 22, 1994, passed a resolution that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means. The resolution reiterates that India has the will and the capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The resolution also demands that Pakistan vacate the areas of the Indian State of J&K which have been occupied through aggression and, their attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the country be countered resolutely. Against this backdrop, there can be no question of redrawing of borders or making them “irrelevant.” The issue of opening the regions to trade holds merit but there are a number of road blocks in this regard. The entry points that have been created in J&K for facilitation of cross border trade have witnessed poor response as has the bus service for movement of people on both sides. Pakistan has not extended India the reciprocal ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status in trade even two decades after India unilaterally extended the facility to the country. The trading points in J&K have witnessed several attempts to smuggle drugs into the state which is already facing a serious substance abuse problem. Under the circumstances, removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers on local produced goods holds no value. Ensuring an end to hostility, violence and terrorism also applies to Pakistan since it is from this country that terrorism is being exported to India, especially to the Kashmir valley. Security threshold in J&K cannot be reduced in view of the terrible onslaught of violence that is taking place regularly from across the border. Each violation along the line of control therefore needs to be deemed as an “act of war” and dealt with strictly.
Self governance is yet another aspect that requires positive response from Pakistan. The state of J&K, minus the territories forcibly occupied by Pakistan and China enjoys a democratic dispensation and freedom comparable to the best in the modern world. When there is talk of self governance, Pakistan governmen should be asked to extend democracy and freedom to the occupied territories. Reintegration into mainstream society of such youths who are misguided into the path of terrorism and taken across the line of control is being pursued by Indian authorities. There is in place a surrender and rehabilitation policy but, Pakistan is coming in the way of its implementation.
Lambah has himself acknowledged that India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir is legally, politically and historically correct; and in such a scenario there can be no reason to indulge in any form of compromise? The new government would be well advised to revisit the Track-II and other diplomatic efforts to address the Kashmir issue with Pakistan. And the forward movement will be based on proposals that are justifiable, righteous and honourable.
– Jaibans Singh