MAY 18 & 19, 2006 MANESAR


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 Context

• 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 in Pakistan.

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 Northern Areas.

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 dialogue.

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 questioned.

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,” he added.

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 a gun.”

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 said.

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,” Tarigami noted.

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, he stated.

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,” he expressed.

“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?” he pondered.

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 APNA leader.

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 military grounds.

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 issue.”

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 a fact.”

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 travel purposes.

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 said.

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 bottle.”

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:


J&K in the Evolving Global Context

Dr. Shabir Choudhry
Nazir-Ul-Haq Nazish
Sardar Ishtiaq Hussain
Mohammed Nasim Akhtar
Muzaffar Ali Relay

Multiple Identities and their Accommodation

Mirza Wajahat Hussain
Farooq Khan Niazi
Hashim Qureshi
Ejaz Nazir
Abbas Butt
Ashghar Karbalai
Adalat Ali
Choudhary Talib Hussain

Issues for Immediate Relief

Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri
M.A.R.K. Khaleeque
Zafar Manhas
Sabir Kashmiri
Fazal Mahmood Baig
Haji Gandal Shah
M. M. Khajuria

Processes & Contours of Resolution

Syed Nazir Gilani
Yusuf Targami
Mumtaz Khan
Pinto S. Narboo
Arif Shahid
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 political redressal.

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 Asian region.

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 of conflicts.

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 re-engineering.

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 disputed territories.

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 the people.