Resolution of Kashmir Issue; Key to Normalization of Relations between Pakistan & India

MAY 29, 2014
There are three set of approaches. One is bilateral versus multilateral. Second set of approach is political versus militarily approach and third set is realistic approach versus idealistic approach. In terms of bilateral efforts, first effort was between Jinnah and Mountbatten in November 1947. Then in 1953, PMs of both countries met in London. Then bilateral effort was in 1962-63 at level of foreign secretary dialogue. Then Simla agreement was bilateral effort. Fourth effort was done in 1994 at foreign secretary level. In 1999 the Lahore declaration and last effort was 2004-2008 peace process. In terms of multilateral approach, the first effort was by UN which passed numerous resolutions. Then UN special representatives tried to resolve the issue but failed. Another multilateral effort was in Commonwealth meetings but result was not encouraging. 

As far as military and political set of approaches is concerned, India has occupied Kashmir militarily and over eight hundred thousand military troops are in valley. Political settlement is desirable and periodically it has been stressed. Pakistan concentrated on political efforts and India also offered but not so much frequently as much Pakistan has been doing. 

Third set is realist versus idealist. Realists believe that they should focus on existing situation as so much time has passed and so many other issues have emerged like water and Siachen. Idealists believe that at the time of independence in 1947, Kashmir must have been given timeframe to decide which side to go otherwise either by geography proximity or by people’s aspiration decision should have been made. 

One major hurdle in solution of Kashmir issue is horns of history that influence policies and prevent coming to some kind of agreed formula. Second, India and Pakistan have differing security perceptions. Then there are periodically domestic developments which have adverse impact on any ongoing solution process. We have adverse perception and images of each other. Finally there is inability of India and Pakistan to associate the Kashmiri representatives in the dialogue process.

There are many internationally recognized available solutions, partition oriented, plebiscite oriented, independence oriented and confederation/joint control mechanism. These ideas have been presented but none of them is accepted. The international community recognizes that the key to solution lies with India. From 2004 to 2008 there was peace process because international community was extremely active and India was also willing. There are two ways, all the three parties India, Pakistan & Kashmir need a breather and secondly national, regional and international media should play its role in de-educating and re-educating in trying to highlight the advantages of resolution of Kashmir issue. A continuous process of focused dialogue among all three parties is needed. –