Weave a discourse around the basic framework
Some days back, I decided not to talk about “them” or their travel to the country that was ‘conjured into statehood by the force of indomitable will’ of a leader – the will that ironically even our towering leadership lacked. I started believing whether, I talk or not, the gushing winds of politics are there to drift away the vessels with no strong ideological moorings and anchors. Knowing, chronicles are replete with instances, that those suffering from ideological infidelity having been washed away like straws down the streams of history, I started believing that historical forces will throw up a leadership that will ‘significantly alter the course of history and even modify the map of the world’.
It was the recent rhetoric about Pervez Musharraf’s ‘four point formula and seeing it as a solution for Kashmir that set me thinking if ‘not talking’ would not be contributing to what Asif Ezdi a former Pakistan diplomat recently called as “confusion on Kashmir.”
The four-point formula that former President pronounced as “out-side the box” solution was not a very well thought- out document. It was just his brainwave – a brainwave perhaps sparked by a document “Kashmir-India and Pakistan” published in New Delhi and mentioned by Eqbal Ahmed in an article published in a Pakistan newspaper. No independent mind or think tank even in Islamabad debated, discussed or analyzed this brainwave before it became public. There is no evidence suggesting that at any point of time even Pakistan Foreign Office was asked to look at the “brainwave” (the four-point formula) and analyze it in the context of the country’s stated position on Kashmir. Ironically the author of the “formula” was not also confident about his own “out-side the box” solution but for the “solution” coming from some on top it found ready takers across the divide in Kashmir.
General Musharraf articulating apprehension about his own formula writes in his autobiography ‘In The Line of Fire’ , “The idea I have evolved – which ought to satisfy Pakistan, India and the Kashmiri
s – involves a partial stepping back by all…. this idea is purely personal and would need refinement.” (302-303).
Much before looking at the question: If personal whims and fancies of a former Pakistan president now relegated to the pages of history could become political doctrine for people struggling for their fundamental rights guaranteed to them by comity of nations there is need to understand the damage this formula has caused to the cause of Kashmiris.
It clearly transpires from the autobiography of former President that the formula was manifestation of both a ‘dictatorial mind’ and ‘extreme desperation’. He writes, “The initial signs of sincerity and flexibility that I sensed in Manmohan Singh seem to be withering away. I think the Indian establishment …. has gotten better of him. I feel that if a leader is to break away from hackneyed ideas and frozen positions, he has to be bold. He has to dominate the establishment, rather than letting it letting it to dictate…. In the meantime, I have initiated my own ideas on Kashmir.”
Many independent observers in Islamabad and Srinagar interpreted the formula as a ‘sign of a weak hand’ as a document of compromise and surrender of rights of Kashmir as it started on the premise “partial stepping back-”- stepping back from obviously from the internationally recognized status of the Kashmir problem/issue/ dispute- whatever phrase one likes to use. Notwithstanding some leaders claiming that the formula suggested ‘interim arrangement for a period of ten years then final settlement’ but there is no evidence to support the claim. By all stretch of imagination, the formula at the end boils down to status quo.
New Delhi, gauging well the weakness showed no response “forcing Musharraf to make concessions before the process of substantive negotiations could begin.” Many within Pakistan questioned timing of piloting of the “out –side the box solution”. Talking about advantageous position that India enjoyed economically and internationally a former Pakistan Ambassador Javid Hussain wrote in The Dawn in June 2007, that Pakistan military rulers from the East Pakistan crisis of 1971 have shown a knack of rushing for a decision at the time and place of India’s choice. General Musharraf seems to be following this historic pattern.” If one looks dispassionately at the Kashmir situation despite undergoing an important transition after 2008, it has been sliding from confusion to confusion. A group of Kashmir leaders during their recent visit to Islamabad did a lot of drum-beating about the country suffering from confusion on Kashmir.
The fact remains as very rightly pointed out by Asif Ezdi ‘the seeds of this confusion were sown by Musharraf by announcing dropping of UN resolution on Kashmir out of blue without popular mandate and initiating backchannel dialogue on his half-baked and ill-conceived formula”. The question arises that should Kashmir subscribe to this confusion by continuing trumpeting this formula. That is not even talked about in the office it was born in.
The Musharraf formula by all stretch of imagination is a dead letter. For all practical purposes, it died with his demitting the office and living in exile. The news reports emanating from Pakistan time and again have indicated that no papers on this formula were existing in Pakistan Foreign Office or Pakistan President Office. It sounds naïve to support a nonexistent formula and see it as way forward for resolution of Kashmir problem- that too when it failed to evoke interest in common people and gather any support. It in fact widened the gulf already divided the Umbrella organization- APHC.
The sixty-five old history of Kashmir is dotted with alternative solutions some of them resulting from the United Nations engaging special envoys like Owen Dixon, Gunnar Jarring and Dr. Graham. And moves for resolutions have been initiated by many important countries and proposals have been placed on table before India and Pakistan leadership. These proposals are consigned to pages of history, now only of academic importance.
Thinking of resurrecting dead letter is being too naïve. The best option available is to weave a discourse around the basic framework