Asks Pakistan to back Kashmiris’ right to decide future
Amid requests from Pakistani opinion-makers to continue exploring a solution to the Kashmir dispute as per United Nations resolutions, the visiting All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on Wednesday stressed the need to keep all options open and urged Pakistan to give unconditional support to the Kashmiri people’s right to determine their future.
The public talk organised by the Foreign Office-backed Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, saw the APHC delegation do some hard talking with chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq pointing out that over the past six decades independence has become the key demand of the Kashmiri people. The U.N. resolutions do not provide for the independence option.
All three members of the seven-member delegation who intervened during the discourse – the other two being Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Lone – sought to drive home the point that the ground realities in Kashmir had changed since 1947.
According to the Mirwaiz, India had successfully created confusion between people’s grievances and people’s aspirations; projecting the redressal of the former as a fulfillment of the latter. Now, he added, even pro-establishment parties like the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party have begun saying that addressing governance issues or participation in elections should not be linked with aspirations.
Of the view that an alternative negotiated settlement between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris would be the more doable approach to the solution as opposed to implementing the U.N. resolutions, the Mirwaiz said Pakistan’s support to the Kashmir cause needs to be channelized into policy; particularly on how to involve the Kashmiri people in the dialogue. Also, he said Pakistan should put its weight behind the Hurriyat as questions will always be asked as to who represents the Kashmiris, the APHC or the elected parties.
Time and again, he pointed to the lack of clarity in Pakistan on how to deal with the Kashmir issue but also admitted to contradictions within Jammu & Kashmir. ``The Hindus of Jammu are not with us neither are the Buddhists of Ladakh. All this has added to the confusion. Even within Kashmir there is no consensus.’’ Adding that Gilgit-Baltistan is on another tangent, he said the view of entire J&K is fractured. ``For this both governments must facilitate contacts.’’
Describing Kashmir as a blend of anger, alienation, uncertainty, turmoil within and memories of collective discontent, Prof. Bhat said: ``You cannot win a war against this combination which is more powerful than nuclear weapons.’’ Pointing to the ``somber reality’’ that the ground has shifted, he urged all sides to introduce a degree of flexibility in the negotiations.
Though he did not speak much, Mr. Lone did not mince words when he pointed out that Pakistani involvement had eroded the space for many in the Kashmiri leadership. Though open to suggestions, he had a firm no to any decision-making for Kashmiris by either New Delhi or Islamabad. Also, he was critical of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – a forum where the Kashmir issue is raised regularly. ``What can OIC do for us? It does not have legs of its own to stand on!’’