The Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), an independent
and non-profit organization, organized a 2-day international
conference on 'Jammu & Kashmir: Alternative Futures' at the
Heritage Village Resort in Manesar, Haryana, on May 18 & 19,
2006. The Conference broadly encompassed the following themes:
• The Future of Jammu & Kashmir in the evolving Global
• Multiple Identities and their Accommodation
• Economic Development, Exclusion and Integration
• Processes and Contours of Resolution
The Conference aspired to break new ground on the various
issues relating to the multiple conflicts and contradictions
in the entire Jammu & Kashmir region, and create a sustainable
base for future discussions.
Some of the other objectives of the conference included:
• providing a forum for representatives of the diverse
communities of Jammu & Kashmir to articulate their perspectives;
• locating the future of the entire region of Jammu &
Kashmir and its peoples within the evolving geostrategic and
economic architecture of South Asia;
• exploring the various differing identities that fall
within the rubric of communities in Jammu & Kashmir and
determining the measure in which these can be accommodated
within any equitable solution of the ‘Kashmir issue’;
• identifying elements of policy that could provide immediate
relief to the people of the region; and
• evolving a consensual understanding of non-violent
patterns of resolution of the many conflicts in the region.
Dr Ajai Sahni, Executive Director, ICM, began the deliberations
of the conference with his preliminary observations [LINK],
noting that “the discourse on Jammu & Kashmir has
been overwhelmingly defined by those who resort to terrorism,
their sponsors and their front organisations. Other constituencies
including elected representatives of the people, the diverse
communities especially minorities, the displaced and the Diaspora,
and the people themselves have been silenced and marginalized
by this discourse.” He emphasized that the ‘Kashmir
issue’ is not just ‘an’ issue: it is a mix
of a multiplicity of issues.
Candidly stating that terrorists have no place on any negotiating
table, Dr. Sahni said the terrorists represent Pakistan’s
geopolitical ambitions, its quest to acquire greater natural
resources, and a minority’s commitment to an Islamist
extremist ideology. He also pointed out that, Kashmiri Muslims
account for over 85 per cent of all civilian casualties of
terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir.
Talking about the various proposed solutions to the ‘Kashmir
issue’, Dr. Sahni observed that all proposals only referred
to the so-called ‘Kashmir-issue’, and that trying
to prescribe a ‘formula’ or ‘package’
was a completely reductionist approach which could not bear
fruit. Almost all proposals suggest redrawing borders on the
basis of religion, and focus overwhelmingly on the perceived
grievances of the Kashmir Valley, neglecting the conflicting
and diverse interest of other regions and communities, particularly
the people of ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ and Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said a cartographic formula cannot work in the case of
Jammu & Kashmir and that we need to approach the issue
with far greater sagacity and foresight.
Bringing up the issue of minorities, he said “Minorities
in J&K have come under threat in many places while, in
others, experiments in demographic re-engineering have been
launched to diminish vulnerable local majorities and reduce
them to a minority status. This has encouraged some segments
within such minorities to seek greater security and to protect
their culture by trying to build barriers of separation.”
This leads to isolationism as marginalized communities seek
to create their own smaller worlds and seek protection in
communal, ethnic and cultural ghettos. Though isolationism
is a powerful political position among many communities today,
it is a strategy of inevitable failure, Dr. Sahni observed.
Coming back to the larger issue of Jammu & Kashmir, Dr.
Sahni pointed out that J&K sits at the pivot of Asia.
The region was once both India’s and China’s gateway
to Central Asia and into the heart of Europe, along the ancient
Silk Route that contributed so much to the wealth and civilization
of the many peoples it touched. He felt that this strategic
centrality and economic dynamism could be recovered if we
could overcome the illusion of national boundaries, and placed
ourselves in the wider spectrum of South Asia within the context
of a globalizing world order.
The next speaker at the Conference was Dr. Nazir Gilani,
Chairman, International Kashmir Alliance (IKA), UK. He said
Kashmiris from four major population groups (Indian Administered
Jammu & Kashmir, ‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir,
Gilgit-Baltistan, and the Diaspora) were meeting at the Conference,
which made it special. Dr Gilani was of the opinion that if
the Kashmir issue is to be settled and sealed, each one cannot
be free to wrestle with Kashmir and the people of Kashmir.
There have to be modalities, and the integrity of the state
is to be maintained. Forces of violence are to be fought back
by the Union of India and life, honour and property in Kashmir
need to be protected.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Gilani raised the issue of who
was responsible for all the fatalities in Kashmir. He accused
the Indian Government of having failed to conduct pro-people
politics in Kashmir, saying that Kashmiris have to struggle
to make the four Kashmirs visible: this is in a situation
where the people of the State are clearly and legally defined
as Kashmiris, and not Indians and Pakistanis. He said Article
48 of the Constitution of J&K extends its protection and
provisions for welfare to the 2.5 million Kashmiri refugees
Disapproving of the increasing number of non-Kashmiris claiming
expertise on the Kashmir issue, he said the Kashmiris were
widely misunderstood. At the Pugwash Conference organised
in Islamabad in March 2006, he noted further, the organisers
“behaved like the Public Works Department of the Government
of Pakistan.” He noted that the Conference needed to
look at the grievances Kashmiris have against India, Pakistan
and also against themselves. He encouraged all Kashmiris to
think on the lines of how they could become visible without
getting sucked into a buffer zone. Stating that “we
have lost a generation in Kashmir, he demanded, “Who
is accountable and legally culpable? Someone has to compensate.
Reparation must be there.” He urged the Conference to
look upon the Kashmiris as important and human. He also urged
the people of J&K to consider the situation as was on
August 14, 1947, and ponder over whether the situation was
better then. He said “We, as Kashmiris, have certain
titles, as compared to India and Pakistan who are mere claimants.
So I request Kashmiris to maintain their stance.”
Representing the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement, Manzoor
Hussain Parwana said that after Partition in 1947, Kashmir
was divided into four regions. And while there is State Subject
Rule in three regions of Kashmir, the same is not applicable
in the Northern Areas. He said both India and Pakistan are
equally responsible for the human rights violation in the
He said people living in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) do not agree
with the name of Northern Areas given by Pakistan, because
the name itself is a strategy to isolate GB from the Kashmir
issue. According to him, GB does not find mention in either
the Pakistani or Indian Constitution. Parwana emphatically
noted that location of Pakistani troops in GB is illegal and
violates the UN Resolution. Pakistan talks of demilitarization,
but GB has seen a continuous increase in Forces, opined Parwana.
Parwana expressed displeasure at India and Pakistan ignoring
Gilgit Baltistan from the whole gamut of Confidence Building
Measures (CBMs). Lamenting the fact that people from the Northern
Areas were being isolated, he said “don’t give
suggestions and road maps: give solutions”. Parwana
suggested that the region should be given autonomy, and routes
from GB to Kargil should be thrown open. Both India and Pakistan
are responsible for the suffering in GB, because India has
also declared GB as a ‘silent zone’ and has failed
to project the atrocities perpetrated by Pakistan on the people
of the region. Peace processes, he noted, are just suggestions
and road maps. “We need a solution”, he added.
Recollecting the Kargil war, he said: “Our youth was
killed in the Kargil Operation, and they were called ‘militants’.
There were not militants… they were our people who
join the Northern Areas Light Infantry because of their poverty.”
Ali Khan Shafqat, another delegate from GB, said it is unfortunate
that people in GB have suffered the most. He highlighted the
fact that while there is a State Legislative Assembly in Indian
Kashmir and a so-called Government in Pakistan occupied Kashmir
(PoK), there is no political institution at all in GB. Khan
demanded that people from the Northern Areas be given a chance
to meet people from Kargil and Ladakh. He said, “If
Northern Areas are brought to the same level as Indian Kashmir
and PoK, then we can talk as equals.”
He categorically stated that the Jihad in Indian Kashmir
has been engineered and is merely propaganda. ‘Azad
Kashmir’, according to Khan, is only a term given by
Pakistan to one of the parts of divided J&K. It is not
actually ‘Azad’, but Pakistan – occupied
– Kashmir, Khan added. Elucidating, Khan noted that
while there is a Prime Minister and ministers, they are only
stooges, with their headquarters based in Murree and that
such a ‘leadership’ could be changed anytime.
He also accused the Governments of India and Pakistan of using
the Northern Areas as ‘fuel’.
According to Shafqat, “Both Musharraf and Government
of India take the Hurriyat Conference as the representatives
of Kashmir. But they are not our representatives. The negotiations
should be with representatives of all the people of Kashmir.
We do not recognize Maulvi Omar Farooq as qualified to negotiate
the future of GB.”
By way of suggestions, he said demilitarization is very important
for Gilgit Baltistan. Furthermore, the role of the ISI needs
to be terminated. He also said that Pakistan is not serious
about the Northern Areas but if India is serious, it should
ask all the factions to sit together and conduct a detailed
The All Parties National Alliance (APNA) Secretary, Farooq
Khan Niazi, said we talk in stereotypes at such gatherings.
According to him, the biggest challenge right now is to maintain
diversity. He opined, “We need to question ourselves
as to whether we want diversity to be maintained? We need
a secular society. And any solution for Kashmir should be
based on secularism.” Niazi noted that links with India
can only be on the basis of secularism, democracy and sovereignty,
and if India remains silent when these principles are violated
in Kashmir, it creates space for the gun.
Pointing towards the state of affairs in J&K, he said
democracy means empowering every citizen. People in J&K,
he noted, have to deal with two Governments – India
and Pakistan. While India has a legal document in the form
of the Instrument of Accession, Niazi reminded that Pakistan
has no such document. He said Sheikh Abdullah chose India
over Pakistan on the basis of secularism, so why doesn’t
democracy extend to Kashmir? Stating that no issue of violation
of human rights in J&K was taken up by the Indian civil
society, he said whoever remains silent is a part and parcel
of the problem.
He was of the opinion that, “a powerful group in the
Indian bureaucracy, the Pakistani Government and a certain
Kashmiri group do not want a solution to the Kashmir issue…
I believe the ISI and RAW have joined hands.” Talking
about possible solutions, Niazi said a democratic set-up with
transparency and justice to all would lead to a solution.
He suggested that Kashmiris from all sections should be allowed
to meet; educational institutions should encourage students’
exchange programmes; trade routes should be opened; and people
should be allowed to travel freely, and the opening of bus
routes should be transparent.
He insisted that human rights violation in Kashmir should
end, and autonomy given to all regions. Referring to the South
Tyrol model as a possible solution to the Kashmir issue, Niazi
said Kashmir is willing to continue with the same sovereignty.
Adalat Ali of the UK-based Kashmir National Identity Campaign
questioned the predicament of people when they talk of one
Kashmir or four Kashmirs. He also pondered thus: when the
Maharaja acceded, was it the entire state of J&K or was
it in parts? Who is responsible for the present situation?
He was of the opinion that PoK, Gilgit Baltistan and the
expatriates are being ignored by the Indian state. “They
ignore us, fail to take care of us, and go over our heads
to speak to our occupiers,” he said. “Kashmir,
in the context of India and Pakistan, is very minute. India
is a museum of many languages, cultures and religions, and
if we apply identities into question, the whole issue of identities
is in question. The same is the case with Pakistan. So why
do special rules apply to Kashmir and Kashmiris,” he
Referring to Azad Kashmir, Ali said there are a lot of tribal
hostilities. Though there have not been any killings thus
far, Ali warned that they could erupt any time. According
to him, it is the “occupied forces that are fuelling
and multiplying the problems.”
Questioning the opening of a road link between Muzaffarabad
and Srinagar, Ali pointed out that there are thousands of
divided families in the Punjab region. He enquired if it was
only a political exercise and whether it is more important
to link Muzaffarabad to Srinagar than reunite Punjabi families?
Commenting on the issue of Diaspora, Ali informed the gathering
that Europe houses the maximum number of Kashmiri Diaspora,
especially from South West Kashmir. He also said they are
given a Pakistani identity card and that the society in Europe
considers them to be Pakistanis. Economically, this Diaspora
is one force of Pakistan’s economy, Ali claimed. Bringing
to light the exploitative element, Ali cited the case of the
Mangla Dam where he alleged people acquired huge amounts of
money for the land.
By way of suggestions, he said the Srinagar Assembly should
resume responsibility; the Mirpur-Jammu, and Kotli-Rajouri
routes should be opened; a reversal to the 1957 situation
when people were allowed to move across the State; cross-border
free movement should be allowed as people on both sides are
eagerly waiting to see each other.
Urging the conference to think of Kashmir in terms of one
political identity, Dr Shabir Choudhry, spokesperson of the
UK-based International Kashmir Alliance (IKA), observed, “The
Maharaja acceded the whole of Kashmir to India. The accession
was not final, it was provisional. And the accession was not
for regions but for the whole of J&K. The state must not
be divided on communal or any other lines.”
He also said that unfortunately those who bring gun culture
into the discourse are promoted and find a seat at the negotiating
table. There should be no space for terrorists in negotiations.
While noting that we promote the terrorists, he pointed out
that “these people are treated like heroes across the
border, and when they come to India, they are treated like
heroes. Individual meetings are arranged with the PM of India,
and I am sure that they could have individual meetings with
President Musharraf. Don’t let Delhi and Islamabad decide
who represents us.” “I represent myself,”
Insisting on simplification of procedures as far as travel
across the border was concerned, he said, “We are told
there are thousands who are waiting to cross borders. We have
to simplify the procedures and let people meet.” In
his concluding remarks, Choudhry said gun culture has no role
and also warned “If promoters of the gun are brought
to the negotiating table, then you are encouraging me to hold
The next speaker, Hashim Qureshi, President of the Jammu
and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Front (JKDLF), said proxy
politics leads to proxy wars. According to him, where justice
and rights are denied, violence is inevitable. He said the
people of Kashmir have had no role in dividing the State and
it is India and Pakistan who are responsible for the dissection.
Qureshi observed that whenever the Hurriyat Conference asks
for a personal meeting with the Prime Minister, it is granted.
But when it comes to open forums, they either “get a
stomach ache, or go abroad, or find some other excuse.”
He pertinently asked: “What are they asking for from
the PM in these ‘separate meetings’.” If
we are to save civilisation and society, Qureshi said we must
never reward terrorism.
Advocating the cause of the Northern Areas, Qureshi said
people in NA have no rights, unlike Kashmiris in PoK and on
the Indian side who have at least some sort of a political
structure. People of Gilgit Baltistan, Qureshi noted, should
also be given some form of political structure. He said if
students from Azad Kashmir can go to Karachi to study, why
can’t they come to Kashmir for the same?
Bringing up the issue of travel across the LoC, Qureshi said
there are several thousand applications for permission to
cross the border. However, only 300 have been granted permission.
The purpose of opening borders was to allow free movement
and people should be allowed to move freely across borders
by virtue of being a state citizen. “We will then easily
be able to solve the Kashmir problem,” he claimed.
Arif Shahid, Secretary General of the Jammu and Kashmir National
Liberation Front (JKNLF), said what has “been forced
on us is obviously not the solution to the problem, which
is why we are looking for another solution.” Shahid
said that while Gen. Musharraf has suggested options like
self-rule, demilitarization, etc., no possible solutions have
come from India.
Commenting on the issue of travel, he said, “We want
to meet on a people-to-people basis without the involvement
of the ISI. Allow us to meet easily. Agreed that there are
armies of both India and Pakistan. But what about Ladakh and
Gilgit? There are no armies in that region. So why they are
not allowed to meet? Why don’t you open the Kargil-Skardu
road? Why don’t you connect the people of Ladakh to
other parts of J&K?”
India has faced a proxy war for 18 years, so it must be trying
to resolve the issue really harder than Pakistan wants, he
opined. But the problem is that even if India and Pakistan
facilitate resolving the issue, the people of J&K are
not mentally prepared to live together, according to Shahid.
He added, “You are depriving a majority of the people
from participating in elections. What kind of a democracy
is that?” Huge amount of money is being spent on defense,
while people are suffering, Shahid noted, adding that personal
choice should be kept aside by two nations and ground realities
should be addressed if a solution is to be reached.
Dr. Agnishekhar, Chairman of the Panun Kashmir (A-faction),
questioned the rationale of the conflict: What do Kashmiris
want – India, Pakistan, or self-rule? Stating that people
from different regions have different experiences, and their
realities are very different from each other, he said, “The
conflict in Kashmir has multi-layered and multi-dimensional
facets. Thus, there is a possibility of duplicity. Conflict
of conviction is what the Kashmiris are ailing from. What
is Kashmiriyat? That is another conflict. There is the ideology
of negation of the central ethos.”
Noting that the Conference is a loud expression against violence,
Agnishekhar said there has to be a shift from the cult of
violence to the philosophy of violence and one must focus
on the ideology of violence and its promoters. Drawing attention
to the pathos of the Kashmiri Pandits, he said: “Today
Kashmir is not a secular piece of land. It is a Muslim Kashmir.
It is a Kashmir where I am not, because I am an unbeliever,
a traitor, an ‘Indian agent’.”
Bringing up the issue of Kashmiri Pandits who were ousted
from their own home land, he said this has happened to a minority
community which has contributed to world peace. He said, “A
total religious cleansing has taken place in Kashmir. There
is the ideology of negation of hatred. Are we with it? Who
is promoting the ideology of violence? It is the perpetrators
of genocide.” He was of the opinion that a minority
community can survive only if there is secularism in the majority
community of any society.
Agnishekhar said Kashmiri leaders not only double-speak —
a term coined by George Orwell in 1984 — but they multi-speak.
“I don’t trust my counter-parts. I am secular
at heart, and I am scared of my own friends. It is tragic
that we are a fragmented people. We have to talk of J&K
and not Kashmir,” he said.
Journalist and Srinagar-based human rights activist Zafar
Iqbal Manhas emphasized that realities of 2006 are very different
from 1947. He also said Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of
the 2-nation theory, and Kashmiriyat in Kashmir is not the
same anymore. He also said, “Whenever Kashmiris want
to off load their ‘Kashmiriyat’, both India and
Pakistan come in the way. On the one hand, the government
propagates the fact that it is holding a roundtable. But it
is very obvious that the roundtable is being held for a particular
group of people. So obviously a lot of people will lose faith
in democracy.” He suggested the following: Shun violence
in all forms; institutionalize CBMs; and think of inter-dependence
instead of independence.
Manhas while observing that “We must speak against
terrorism whatever its form,” added “as long as
we think of the Kashmir issue as a life and death issue between
India and Pakistan, it will never be solved.” He also
emphatically said “If India and Musharraf can speak
to Hurriyat, who have never rejected violence, then they should
also speak to all other constituencies in J&K.”
Highlighting a significant aspect of the Conference, the
Canada-based Mumtaz Khan, Vice-Chairman of the IKA, held that
the people of Gilgit Baltistan are being provided a rare opportunity
to speak. According to him, they are not allowed to speak
on that side. He also observed that India has a legal right
and the Instrument of Accession, but it does not have the
courage to protest against human right violations in GB. Khan
noted that “If Pakistan pulls out support, stops supporting
the gun in J&K, terrorism will die out in ten days.”
He stated that people from Gilgit Baltistan are not included
in the dialogue process; there is no Constitution or political
structure in the region, and yet people do not get agitated
over these facts. Anxious over the Indian Prime Minister’s
invitation to the Hurriyat for talks on the Kashmir issue,
he said, “You hesitate to talk to those who support
peace, but you give an open invitation to those who support
the gun, namely the Hurriyat, and despite this, the Hurriyat
refuses to attend any dialogue process. Why?”
He suggested that CBMs should be broadened and improved,
and the two countries should reduce the mistrust between them.
He strongly advocated for developing a consensus for opposing
violence in all forms.
Academic and political activist Nazir-Ul-Haq Nazish stated
that such a protracted conflict cannot even begin to be discussed
completely in a conference. He said the historical scenario
is embedded in former Indian Prime Minister I. K. Gujral’s
words: “The issue is not the conflict in Kashmir, but
the relationship between India and Pakistan.” The two
countries need to change their attitude. Till then, any meaningful
outcomes are unlikely, Nazish noted.
He was of the view that all Kashmiris have come to a conclusion
that there is duality in the behaviour of the two countries
– something for public consumption, and something else
for their own. The only way a conflict can be resolved is
when zero-sum positions or win-lose positions are moved to
a win-win situation, he expressed.
We need to positively utilize the energies and resources of
India and Pakistan, and we demand both countries discharge
their duties and responsibilities towards Kashmiris, and safeguard
Life, Liberty and Property, the UK-based academic stated.
Nazish candidly observed that Pakistan needs to stem out the
foreign gun, and positive steps of dialogue and resolution
need to be taken. India and Pakistan should resort to those
policies which are beneficial to people, and the people need
to start demanding democracy, and opposing violence against
innocent people, he added.
Suggesting that we should not waste time downgrading each
other in such conferences and instead of proving our loyalties
to people, parties or governments, we should sincerely participate,
follow certain ethics and not harp on the absence or presence
of any particular party or group.
Sardar Ishtiaq Hussain, General Secretary, United Kashmir
People’s National Party (UKPNP), questioned the conference
as to whether all Kashmiris want to live together or not.
He suggested creating a syllabus committee, comprising members
from both India and Pakistan, based on which the future generations
should be educated on the history of Kashmir.
Member of Legislative Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir, Yusuf
Tarigami, pondered “who is responsible for demolishing
the secular, democratic nature of Kashmir?” Pakistan,
he said, has succeeded in introducing certain elements in
our personalities; the subversion of the values in which our
relations with India were based. It was successive regimes
in Delhi that made this possible. Tarigami observed, “It
was not the capacities of Pakistan that created the trouble.
It was the incapacities of the governments in Delhi and Srinagar.”
He mentioned that Kashmiris cannot forget, even for a moment,
their historic ties with both India and Pakistan. The fact
that Pakistan is realizing that creating problems in the neighbouring
society is no means to a solution is welcomed by us, Tarigami
Referring to the various suggestions towards the solution
of the Kashmir issue, Tarigami said the reality is that India
and Pakistan should talk amongst themselves. Talking about
the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, he said there should
be no further division on communal lines, or else it will
lead to an ultimate division of the State. He agreed that
all regions have their own set of grievances, but a unified
voice was the answer to such problems. “Political sovereignties
are not possible, and are not even relevant. But economic
sovereignties are possible, and should be made use of,”
Ashghar Karbalaie, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Ladakh
Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, said as a representative
of the Kargil region, he wished to express that the people
are against the division of the State on the basis of culture
and religion. “We want Kashmiris to get their rights
as they should be given to anyone living in the 21st century,
and I don’t think any Kashmiri would want to divide
the state,” he said.
Referring to the Poonch-Rawalakot and Poonch-Mirpur bus routes
which are likely to open shortly, Karbalaie questioned: “Why
not Kargil-Skardu? It has historical significance. Islam came
to Kashmir through this route from Central Asia.”
Urging everyone to maintain a cease-fire, Karbalaie said,
“Since we are on the LoC, we know the importance of
cease-fire. Any small movement in the political relations
of the two countries and the cease-fire ceases to exist. We
are the ones to suffer.” He also expressed hope that
Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan would soon be demilitarized.
“Remove the army so that we have easy access to the
area,” he said. He stated that while the world is harping
on the IT revolution, there are no communication links from
Kargil and Ladakh to Skardu, Gilgit and Baltistan.
He was optimistic that “when the Indian PM will talk
of solutions and CBMs, he will keep in mind the ground realities
and the fact that the violence in Kashmir continues to exist.
A solution will come only through people and all people —
from the Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh — should be consulted.”
Former Director General of Police (Jammu and Kashmir) and
representative of Poonch-Rajouri, M.M. Khajuria, stressed
on the need for sticking to identities. He said terrorism
in the Valley did not erupt in 1989. It was always there:
only the magnitude kept varying. “For a certain period,
a fit of madness took over the people in Jammu & Kashmir.
Now we need to look at things rationally,” he stated.
Talking of Kashmir in the global context, the former police
chief opined that the face of Islam is represented by the
Kashmiri Muslim in the wake of the Al Qaeda. It is now that
the Kashmiri Muslim has to play a significant role in stopping
terrorism to turn around the situation, he noted. Referring
to Pakistan’s geo-political agenda, he said Pakistan
cannot keep filling a pond to breed mosquitoes and expect
them to go only to Kashmir and not Multan or Karachi.
On the issue of demilitarization, Khajuria said till 1989,
there was no pressure of the Army. But today, the reality
is different. Though the Army is keen to go back, let us not
fool ourselves by saying demilitarization is possible, the
DGP warned. However, he said that the slow progress on ground
between the two countries and the peace process should not
discourage us. “Don’t think its not working. It
is slow, and needs to be slow, or else there is a danger of
reversal,” he said.
Accusing India of having failed the people of Gilgit and
Baltistan, he questioned: “Why shouldn’t the PM
invite people from Northern Areas, and people living out of
the country to get a complete picture?” He also advocated
the involvement of the Kashmiri youth in the dialogue process.
Referring to all CBMs as being Kashmir-centric, Khajuria
expressed dissatisfaction with the Indian Government. According
to him, “The Government of India has the power of attorney
and it feels it can talk on our behalf. But I want to state
that the government has no attorney. I want to express my
own opinion, and people from PoK have the same feelings.”
He categorically stated that terrorism is being bred in Pakistan
and exported to other parts of South Asia. If terrorist structures
are demolished in Pakistan, there will be a more peaceful
South Asia, Khajuria said. He also said the importance of
Jammu and Kashmir in the global scenario is unprecedented.
Considering that Russia is re-emerging as a super-power, it
will make Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan very important.
On the issue of thousands of applications for travel across
the border lying unattended, the former DGP suggested that
instead of every case being processed, maybe both countries
can come up with a negative list. Those on the list should
be denied permission, while the rest should be granted permit
to travel. This list can be updated on a regular basis, adding
or deleting cases, as the case may be, he said.
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Secretary General of the IKA,
said in the 21st century, people are going to the moon, but
“we haven’t gotten over the gun culture”.
He said the civil society and politicians should honour those
who have come from across the border. Their decision to come
here is a clear sign of rebellion against the Pakistani regime,
Whether we consider ourselves a part of India or not, we
must find out what do they have to offer us, the Switzerland-based
Shaukat Kashmiri observed. “J&K has a long history
and multiplicity of people. It can be referred to by any name,
but it includes the entire region. We must come to an understanding
upon these internal conflicts and only then can we find a
solution to the larger problems. We have to fight together
for our basic political, social, and economic rights. The
divisive forces don’t want us to achieve this. We also
have to be concerned about people’s security and protection,”
“Resolutions are passed to achieve peace. But a hungry
man, who is deprived and dejected, cannot think about peace.
To strengthen the secular forces of India, what is being done
by the civil society here,” questioned Kashmiri.
In his remarks, Rasheed Shaheen of the National Conference
noted that the conference ought to debate on whether the three
identities - PoK, Northern Areas and Indian Kashmir - are
a monolith. “Or do we need to think of separate identities?”
Stating that Kashmiris are not traitors, Shaheen remarked
that contexts and connotations have changed now, and we have
to think what is really possible. He also talked about the
possibility of South Asia being a Union, and having a South
Asian Parliament. “SAARC is irrelevant if India and
Pakistan are in a conflict… Terrorism will survive
in such a scenario,” he added.
Choudhry Talib Hussain from Poonch-Rajouri said our identities
do not weaken our secularism. They, on the contrary, strengthen
the democratic process and the peace process, said Hussain.
Prof. M.A.R.K. Khaleeque, Vice Chairman of the All Parties
National Alliance, said the issue put forward before us is
‘Kashmir: Alternative Solutions’. This gives us
the responsibility to give a future political shape to J&K
which is today divided into three parts. However, he noted
that, “It has been said that unless there is a consensus
on a solution, there can be no resolution. But the parties
to the conflict have all contradictory positions. Unless there
are some compromises by the various parties, there can be
no resolution to J&K.”
Suggesting that there will be real democracy and secularism
if the State is given autonomy, Prof. Khaleeque said borders
will become irrelevant, free movement of people will become
possible, and trade will be reality. Unless a political solution
is found, no change will occur in the situation, said the
At this stage, Dr Sahni intervened in the proceedings and
requested the participants to not attempt to decide the future
of Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the Conference should instead
aim to agree on certain principles which are acceptable to
all, even if they are as basic as providing justice, stopping
violence, greater people-to-people contact, return of sovereignty
etc. He again emphasized that the Kashmir issue is not just
limited to the Valley, and the boundaries need to be pushed
inch by inch.
Abbas Butt of the International Kashmir Alliance noted that
India has been indifferent to the problems of the people of
Pakistan administered Kashmir. Thousands were displaced by
the Mangla Dam and more will be displaced when its height
is raised, he said, however, not a voice has been raised in
our support from the Kashmir Valley or from India.
Speaking on the need for a people-to-people dialogue, Haji
Gandal Shah of the Bhasha Naam Namanzoor Committee from Gilgit-Baltistan
(GB), observed: “The people of the regions of Kashmir
have not been allowed to meet and interact, and that is the
reason why the problem of Kashmir has become the more complex.
The trend to greater interactions has begun, and it must be
continued. A solution will emerge from these processes, and
from the people of J&K themselves.” He also underlined
the inequities that underpinned the Basha Dam project and
the fact that the people of the region were being excluded
from its benefits, without due compensation or rehabilitation.
Shah also said people from Gilgit and Baltistan have given
the maximum number of sacrifices for Jammu and Kashmir. According
to Shah, “We have so far never been given an opportunity
to speak on any forum. What kind of democracy are you talking
about when you fail to give representation to one entire region
of the divided state?” He stated that history shows
that no region can be held captive for long and that too on
Muzaffar Ali Relay, Member of the Northern Areas Legislative
Council in GB, on his first visit to India said he was elated
that he received the kind of affection here that he expected
from members of his own family. The issue and the conflict
is not of the people, he said, it is between the Governments
of India and Pakistan. Stating that Pakistan President Musharraf
has left the ball in Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s
court, he said “we should hold such conferences in all
regions of Kashmir, and we should form a committee which visits
all regions of Kashmir, and meet people. A communication gap
amongst all regions has led to the complexities in the Kashmir
Noting that India and Pakistan need the peace process more
than the Kashmiris, Nazir Ijaz, Secretary General of the Jammu
& Kashmir National Awami Party, said “If, under
the peace process, we are given the opportunities to meet,
we should take advantage of these opportunities to examine
and work towards a workable alternative future.” He
added further, “Azad Kashmir is not Azad, and that is
He also advocated the cause of Kashmir being given an independent
status. “This way, people on both sides will be relatively
safe,” he opined. He said the permit system should be
cancelled and state subject card should be made valid for
Sabir Kashmiri, Chairman of the All Parties National Alliance
(APNA), questioned: “Have Kashmiris been given the authority
to decide their fates? And will India and Pakistan accept
our proposal for a solution? No. So on what basis should we
sit down to discuss on a negotiation table?”
He was of the opinion that a free and fair process of election
should be held under the aegis of the United Nations, and
a Grand Assembly should be formed. He spoke on the need for
a process of election to select spokespersons from each region
and that each region should be represented by people elected
by transparent processes.
In his presentation, Pinto Narboo, leader of the Ladakh Buddhist
Forum, said one ought to reconstruct the great civilisational
highways of the Silk Route, along which so much philosophy,
ideas, trade and culture flowed. Narboo also said Kashmir
is not just an internal problem. “We are Kashmiris,
and we enjoy the security provided to us by India. China,
our neighbour, crushes individual identities in its aspiration
for uniformity,” he observed.
He also said Pakistan has to look at its own internal resources
and strengths and not bother about competing with India. Resources
of both countries which should have been spent on development
have been used for buying missiles and “We’ve
bled ourselves and others have thrived on that,” he
Fazal Mahmood Baig, President of the Jammu and Kashmir National
Students Federation (JKNSF) said we should all unite first
and then think of a solution to Kashmir.
According to Baig, “The one party that is most responsible
for our ghulami (slavery) is Pakistan. I say this here, I
say it on the other side of the border as well.” He
disclosed that after the earthquake, the Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) gave all resources, including the international aid
received, to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, and projected them as messiahs.
These foreign fundamentalists, he said, have done great damage
to Jammu and Kashmir, and they should be immediately expelled
from the State.
Mohammed Nasim Akhtar, Diplomatic Chief of the JKLF (Rauf
Faction), blamed the Governments of India and Pakistan for
the present situation. He confessed that he did not expect
to come to Delhi so easily and quickly, and to be able to
speak openly about the issue of the ‘freedom of Kashmir’.
Mirza Wajahat Hassan, President of the Gilgit-Baltistan Thinkers
Forum, noted in his speech that “All regions of J&K
have been engulfed in conflict since 1988. A djinn was taken
out of the bottle and today’s sole superpower was responsible
for this. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan were the first victims
of the jehadi djinn that they harnessed in their war against
the then second superpower, Russia, in Afghanistan. Now America
is also becoming a victim of this jehadi djinn. We must think
of some means that will get this jehadi djinn back into the
Hassan requested researchers and historians to think anew
and give a proper identity to all the regions of Jammu and
Kashmir. He proposed a joint parliament: a joint management
in which people from all regions are asked to talk amongst
themselves and solve the issue.
On the second day of the Conference, the participants were
divided into four working groups as follows:
WORKING GROUP TITLES AND COMPOSITION
J&K in the Evolving Global Context
Dr. Shabir Choudhry
Sardar Ishtiaq Hussain
Mohammed Nasim Akhtar
Muzaffar Ali Relay
Multiple Identities and their Accommodation
Mirza Wajahat Hussain
Farooq Khan Niazi
Choudhary Talib Hussain
Issues for Immediate Relief
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri
Fazal Mahmood Baig
Haji Gandal Shah
M. M. Khajuria
Processes & Contours of Resolution
Syed Nazir Gilani
Pinto S. Narboo
Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Shafqat Ali Inqalabi
The working groups drafted the resolutions under each of
the subjects entrusted to them, and these drafts were put
up for discussion to the general body of the Conference, and
various suggestions were accommodated to arrive at a unanimous
draft, which was then accepted and signed by all participants
present. These resolutions were released at a Press Conference
at the Kamal Mahal, Maurya Hotel, New Delhi, on May 20, 2006.
The Resolutions of the Conference were as follows:
1.1 This conference envisages the future of Jammu & Kashmir
and of the wider South Asian region within the context of
non-violent patterns and structures of resolution, and condemns
without qualification any use of terrorism as a method of
1.2 Isolationism, communal, ethnic or regional exclusionism
and ghettoisation militate against the empowerment of their
target communities and undermine the future of the people
of Jammu & Kashmir, as of the people of the entire South
1.3 The growing interdependencies of the modern world are
recognized, and the future of Jammu & Kashmir must be
envisaged within the economic, social and political imperatives
of integration, while recognizing the primacy of and safeguarding
the diverse and plural aspects of the identities of the people
of Jammu & Kashmir.
1.4 The future of Jammu & Kashmir must be defined within
the context of a farsighted, just and non-discriminatory order,
in harmony with standards of civil, political and social rights,
the framework of a constitutional democracy, universal adult
franchise and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
1.5 The aspirations of the people cannot be met by a mere
political redistribution of power between regional or factional
elites, but requires the establishment of clear mechanisms
that ensure access to developmental opportunities and safeguarding
economic and natural resources for the benefit of the people
of Jammu & Kashmir.
2.1 Any solution or meaningful perspective on Jammu &
Kashmir must accommodate the multiple identities of the State,
the significance of every constituent community and sub-region,
and the imperatives of an integrated approach to the resolution
2.2 All the communities of the State and those from the State
living abroad must be identified and areas where detailed
census has not been carried out must come under such a census
so that a correct assessment of demographic distributions
can be made.
2.3 The aspirations of the various constituent communities
and peoples of Jammu & Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan,
must be met within their traditional homelands. No community
is to be forcibly evicted, displaced or artificially reduced
to a minority through violence or experiments in demographic
2.4 A framework for the protection of cultural identities,
based on mutual respect, non-interference, and fullest ideological
freedom, should be evolved. Such a framework must be free
from the brittle structures of communal, regional and ethnic
exclusion, ghettoisation and violent ideological impositions.
2.5 Effective steps should be taken to formally recognize
the identity of people of Jammu & Kashmir living abroad.
3.1 Until a final resolution of the conflict over the status
of Jammu & Kashmir is reached, a legislative, constitutional
and judicial structure that guarantees the rights of the people
of Gilgit-Baltistan should be statutorily enshrined and enforced.
3.2 All political and judicial institutions in the entire
State of Jammu & Kashmir should be duly empowered.
3.3 Immediate measures for relief should be adopted for people
who have been specifically targeted and displaced through
violence in the entire State.
3.4 Education and the future of the children must be put on
the highest priority, and education must be conceptualized
within the framework of creating skills for employment and
absorption into the modern economic sector.
3.5 The imposition of particular sectarian and religious curricula
must be brought to an immediate end, as also the systematic
inflammation of communal and sectarian passions and violence
by State and non-State entities.
3.6 The political and democratic rights, the constitutional
guarantees and access to an independent and impartial judiciary
must be available to all the people of the State.
3.7 Political prisoners in the State should be released.
3.8 Special Economic Zones and close working environment with
an emphasis on cooperation between different regions should
immediately be established without reference to our assumptions
relating to the nature of a future and final solution to the
multiple crises and conflicts of the region.
3.9 People-to-people contacts must be deepened, going beyond
current symbolism and familial contacts, to comprehend meaningful
trade and economic cooperation. Trade routes, including the
Leh-Tibet, Kargil-Skardu, Nowshera-Kotli, Jammu-Sialkot routes,
should be opened and fullest opportunities for the interaction
of families and people provided.
3.10 Employment opportunities in all sectors should be non-discriminatory
and must not be provided or denied on the basis of religion,
sect, ethnicity, region, or political opinions.
3.11 The rights and privileges granted under the State Subject
Rule should be restored immediately to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
3.12 The Government of India should provide openings in higher
professional and technical educational institutions to deserving
students from Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir,
who are denied necessary facilities for such education.
3.13 The people of affected areas in the entire State must
be taken into confidence before major developmental projects,
including dams, are planned, executed or modified.
4.1 As a prelude to a settlement of the Kashmir dispute,
we propose the rejection of violence, a recognition of the
instrument of dialogue as the only acceptable means of settling
disputes, acceptance of the plural and composite character
of our society and the responsibilities incumbent upon the
two sovereign states of India and Pakistan to assure the best
interests of the people as enshrined in their respective constitutions,
bilateral agreements with each other and bilateral agreements
with the people and other commitments in this regard for the
just and equitable solution of the dispute.
4.2 Recognising the best interests of the people, both India
and Pakistan should accord due primacy to the welfare and
development of the people in their respective territories
while dealing with the natural resources embedded in these
4.3 Recognizing the plural character of the State, due and
equitable regard should be accorded to all communities, political
persuasions and the Jammu & Kashmir Diaspora, in all future
processes of resolution.
4.4 Till a final settlement is reached, both India and Pakistan
are urged upon to honour the common responsibilities to preserve
life, rehabilitate dislocated people and accept obligations
to utilize and develop the resources of the State for the
benefit of the people of the State, and without prejudice
to the title of the people of the State.
4.5 Both India and Pakistan are urged upon to respect and
guarantee the full regime of civil and political rights of