Kashmir Conflict: The Possible Solutions

By Saeed Wazir

“If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this,” wrote Amir Khusrau, a popular Sufi poet, supposedly describing Kashmir. Today the region is known as a serious bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Here are 10 facts about the Kashmir conflict.

Kashmir is an 86,000-square mile region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The separatist violence has killed more than 47,000 people, which does not include people who have disappeared due to the conflict. Some human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations put the death toll at twice that amount. India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir since both countries gained their independence in 1947. The Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir is 435 miles (700 km) long.

India controls One state, called Jammu and Kashmir, which makes up the southern and eastern portions of the region, totaling about 45% of Kashmir. Pakistan controls three areas called Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan make up the northern and western portions of the region, totaling about 35% of Kashmir. China controls one area called Aksai Chin in the northeastern part of the region, equaling 20% of Kashmir. India also alleges Pakistan has ceded 3,220 square miles in Kashmir to China. Srinagar is the summer capital city in Jammu and Kashmir state. Jammu is the winter capital and the capital of Azad Kashmir is Muzaffarabad.

 

Historical perspective: 
India and Pakistan gained their independence in 1947 and all the princely states had to choose between the two countries. Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir, did not want to decide on either. He signed an interim agreement with Pakistan to continue transport services. However, afraid of losing his power in wake of an invasion by tribesmen from Pakistan, he signed the Instrument of Accession to India in October 1947.

Line of Control:

This led to more unrest and the United Nations had to intervene to negotiate a cease-fire. All troops were withdrawn and a line of control was mutually agreed upon between India and Pakistan in January 1949.

The India-Pakistan War:

The Kashmir conflict resumed in the India-Pakistan War of 1965. The Pakistani army tried to take Kashmir by force but failed. The Security Council passed a resolution to put an end to the fighting and ban arms supplies to both parties.

 

Pakistan and India’s interest in the region:

 

The reason is water. Pakistan is scared that in times of conflict, India will stop or divert the water. The Indus Water Treaty, which was signed in 1960, has remained intact for more than 50 years even during periods of unrest. Under the treaty, India gained control over the Sutlej, Ravi, and Beas rivers, while Pakistan received control over Chenab, Indus, and Jhelum. However, since the Pakistan-controlled rivers first flow through India, in the background of mutual hostility and suspicion between the two countries, Pakistan has the tendency to believe that the water scarcity that they experience is somehow attributable to India (as opined by Ramaswamy Iyer, the former Secretary for Water Resources in India).

According to the Asian Development Bank report, Pakistan is one of the most water stressed countries in the entire world. Pakistan is likely to be classified as water-scarce soon, and India is set to become water-scarce by the year 2050.

If in times of Conflict, India decides to go all out, no holds barred, no quarter given or taken, then Pakistan is bound to die by thirst. This paranoia drives the entire Military & Intelligence wing to keep the Kashmir Agenda alive.

 

Efforts made by the governments to resolve the Crises:

  • Resolution of the Commission of January 5, 1949

The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan received their acceptance of the following principles which are supplementary to the Commission’s Resolution of 13 August 1948:

  1. The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite;
  2. A plebiscite will be held when it shall be found by the Commission that the cease-fire and truce arrangements set forth in Parts I and II of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948 have been carried out and arrangements for the plebiscite have been completed;

3.

  • (a) The Secretary-General of the United Nations will, in agreement with the Commission, nominate a Plebiscite Administrator who shall be a personality of high international standing and commanding general confidence. He will be formally appointed to office by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • (b) The Plebiscite Administrator shall derive from the State of Jammu and Kashmir the powers he considers necessary for organizing and conducting the plebiscite and for ensuring the freedom and impartiality of the plebiscite.
  • (c) The Plebiscite Administrator shall have authority to appoint such staff of assistants and observes as he may require.

4.

  • (a) After implementation of Parts I and II of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948, and when the Commission is satisfied that peaceful conditions have been restored in the State, the Commission and the Plebiscite Administrator will determine, in consultation with the Government of India, the final disposal of Indian and State armed forces, such disposal is to be with due regard to the security of the State and the freedom of the plebiscite.
  • (b) As regards the territory referred to in A.2 of Part II of the resolution of 13 August, final disposal of the armed forces in that territory will be determined by the Commission and the Plebiscite Administrator in consultation with the local authorities.
  1. All civil and military authorities within the State and the principal political elements of the State will be required to co-operate with the Plebiscite Administrator in the preparation for the holding of the plebiscite.

6.

  • (a) All citizens of the State who have left it on account of the disturbances will be invited and be free to return and to exercise all their rights as such citizens. For the purpose of facilitating repatriation there shall be appointed two Commissions, one composed of nominees of India and the other of nominees of Pakistan. The Commission shall operate under the direction of the Plebiscite Administrator. The Governments of India and Pakistan and all authorities within the State of Jammu and Kashmir will collaborate with the Plebiscite Administrator in putting this provision into effect.
  • (b) All person (other than citizens of the State) who on or since 15 August 1947 have entered it for other than lawful purpose, shall be required to leave the State.
  1. All authorities within the State of Jammu and Kashmir will undertake to ensure, in collaboration with the Plebiscite Administrator, that:
  • (a) There is no threat, coercion or intimidation, bribery or other undue influence on the voters in the plebiscite;
  • (b) No restrictions are placed on legitimate political activity throughout the State. All subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste or party, shall be safe and free in expressing their views and in voting on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan. There shall be freedom of the press, speech and assembly and freedom of travel in the State, including freedom of lawful entry and exit;
  • (c) All political prisoners are released;
  • (d) Minorities in all parts of the State are accorded adequate protection; and
  • (e) There is no victimization.
  1. The Plebiscite Administrator may refer to the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan regarding problems on which he may require assistance, and the Commission may in its discretion call upon the Plebiscite Administrator to carry out on its behalf any of the responsibilities with which it has been entrusted;
  2. At the conclusion of the plebiscite, the Plebiscite Administrator shall report the result thereof to the Commission and to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The Commission shall then certify to the Security Council whether the plebiscite has or has not been free and impartial;
  3. Upon the signature of the truce agreement, the details of the foregoing proposals will be elaborated in the consultations envisaged in Part III of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948. The Plebiscite Administrator will be fully associated in these consultations;

            2)  The Shimla Agreement:
The Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in 1972 to bring peace between the two countries after the Bangladesh Independence War. Another line of control was established between Indian-controlled Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

 

  • Composite turns comprehensive dialogues :

Both India and Pakistan have long lasting unresolved issues. During decades of political engagement, they have tried various formats of negotiations: structured and non-structured, and people-to-people. However, they have failed to resolve even a single bilateral dispute. In the past there were moments, like in 1963, 1992, and 2007 when, after successful rounds of talks, the two countries were on the brink of sealing a deal over Kashmir valley. In a decision to move beyond their conventional forms of negotiation in 1997 India and Pakistan agreed to have a “Composite Dialogue” instead of issue-specific negotiations. It enabled several bilateral dialogues between India and Pakistan. The issues included economic cooperation, peace, security and Jammu & Kashmir conflict etc.
However CDP was suspended in wake of Mumbai attacks of 2008.

After 7 years CDP was resumed but with a new name Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD). It included 2 additional points with existing 8 points of CDP :

  1. Jammu and Kashmir
  2. Siachen
  3. Sir Creek Boundary Dispute
  4. Wullar Barrage or Tulbul Navigation Project
  5. Economic and Commercial cooperation
  6. Counter-terrorism
  7. Narcotics control
  8. People-to-people exchanges
  9. Humanitarian issues
  10. Religious tourism.

Pathankot attacks in 2016 again caused a rupture in dialogue process and currently there are no ongoing talks with Pakistan (except a little thrashing at UNGA.)

 

  • Musharraf’s four Point formula:

There have been numerous attempts, certainly, in the past to present proposals for resolving this dispute, but none has seemed to take hold. The revival now of Musharraf’s Four Point Formula which was widely discussed in 2006 has again been raised as a solution that offers the most promise of hope to those who have grown weary of the struggle and are willing to accept serious compromises in the interest of alleviating some suffering.

So let’s look at the proposed compromise. General Musharraf’s four-point formula involves the following:

  1. Borders to remain as it is (on Maps) and people on either side of the Line of control (LoC) to be allowed to move freely.
  2. Self-Governance or autonomous status (not independence) to Jammu and Kashmir along with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir for internal Management in all areas like trade, tourism, waters etc to maximize socio-economic development of the region through cooperation.
  3. Troops to be withdrawn from the region in a phased manner
  4. A joint supervising mechanism to supervise the implementation of such a road-map for Kashmir. This comprises of Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri representatives.

 

Seven possible solutions:

Scenario one: The status quo

Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 50 years. Currently a boundary – the Line of Control – divides the region in two, with one part administered by India and one by Pakistan. India would like to formalise this status quo and make it the accepted international boundary. But Pakistan and Kashmiri activists reject this plan because they both want greater control over the region.

 

 

Scenario two: Kashmir joins Pakistan

Pakistan has consistently favoured this as the best solution to the dispute. In view of the state’s majority Muslim population, it believes that it would vote to become part of Pakistan. However a single plebiscite held in a region which comprises of peoples that are culturally, religiously and ethnically diverse, it would create disaffected minorities. The Hindus of Jammu, and the Buddhists of Ladakh have never shown any desire to join Pakistan and would protest at the outcome.

Scenario three: Kashmir joins India

Such a solution would be unlikely to bring stability to the region as the Muslim inhabitants of Pakistani-administered Jammu and Kashmir, including the Northern Areas, have never shown any desire to become part of India.

Scenario four: Independent Kashmir

The difficulty of adopting this as a potential solution is that it requires India and Pakistan to give up territory, which they are not willing to do. Any plebiscite or referendum likely to result in a majority vote for independence would therefore probably be opposed by both India and Pakistan. It would also be rejected by the inhabitants of the state who are content with their status as part of the countries to which they already owe allegiance.

Scenario five: A smaller independent Kashmir

An independent Kashmir could be created from the Kashmir Valley – currently under Indian administration – and the narrow strip of land which Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir. This would leave the strategically important regions of the Northern Areas and Ladakh, bordering China, under the control of Pakistan and India respectively. However, both India and Pakistan would be unlikely to enter into discussions which would have this scenario as a possible outcome.

Scenario six: Independent Kashmir Valley

An independent Kashmir Valley has been considered by some as the best solution because it would address the grievances of those who have been fighting against the Indian Government since the insurgency began in 1989. But critics say that, without external assistance, the region would not be economically viable.

Scenario seven: The Chenab formula

This plan, first suggested in the 1960s, would see Kashmir divided along the line of the River Chenab. This would give the vast majority of land to Pakistan and, as such, a clear victory in its longstanding dispute with India. The entire valley with its Muslim majority population would be brought within Pakistan’s borders, as well as the majority Muslim areas of Jammu.

Other possible solutions:

  • UN controlled Kashmir:

The idea of handing over Kashmir in UN Trusteeship for a certain period and on the basis of the consensus arrived at by the Kashmiris through plebiscite.

 

  • Joint Administration:

Joint Control of Kashmiris is exercised by India and Pakistan. The Lo can be turned into a soft-line with free movement of Kashmiris for trade. Keeping in view the past track record of Indian interventions in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal, this option again has little chance of success.

  • UN led Dialogue:

The united nations should conduct a polygonal dialogue with the US, China, India, Pakistan and Kashmir. South Asia today stands on the precipice of a nuclear catastrophe. Let the international community assert its will through the UN to find a lasting solution to the dispute.

Possible strategy of  Pakistan in this regards:

  1. Kashmir is an unresolved issue and the existence of UN observers at LoC verify this claim. India hence should accept this reality instead of trying to make it look ambiguous by raising petty issues.
  2. The nature of dispute should be made very clear. While India calls it a territorial issue, to Pakistan it’s a humanitarian issue where the population of 1.3 crore is being denied the right of their self-determination.
  3. All the freedom struggle in Indian-occupied Kashmir is fundamentally indigenous with their 5th generation now fighting the war. Pakistan on the other hand is also an undetachable party to the dispute.
  4. After the passing of resolution, the UN now is also a party to the issue; and even without the resolution, it is its job to resolve such disputes, and
  5. The continued human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir must be addressed as a matter of priority.

Conclusion:

Both India and Pakistan are developing nations with challenges like terrorism, drugs wars, illegal trade and foreign pressures. Kashmiris want peace in both countries and wish for them to develop a strategy to solve the Kashmir issue. Dialogue, discussion and diplomacy are the best means to resolve issues amicably. War is not an option as both countries are nuclear powers.

 

The opinions in this article are of the writer only and do not represent the views of The Weekly Pakistan.

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