Maintaining that the Self Rule proposal mooted by the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was a practical solution to the Kashmir problem, noted commentator and legal luminary A.G. Noorani on Sunday said that Article 370 should be made a model to address demands of all stakeholders in the State.
Speaking at a day-long seminar organized by the PDP to explain the broad contours of Self Rule , Mr. Noorani said the self-rule document was very good, very imaginative and a very practical proposal. It (self rule) reflects the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and is the best solution to the problem of Kashmir, he said adding that if all accepted it , the entire scenario would change.
He suggested that Article 370 should be redrafted and made a model to address the demands of all principal stakeholders in the Kashmir issue. “The redrafted Article 370 should be acceptable to all. Let the NC [National Conference] also sit with the PDP, and some day, the NC and the PDP will agree on this. Moreover, I am confident that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will seek a deal. Syed Salahuddin, too, will not be averse to it,” Mr. Noorani said.
Stating that Kashmir needed much more than a guarantee, he said they (the Kashmiris) have been repeatedly cheated by none other than Jawaharlal Nehru himself. He distorted and perverted it, and called upon the intelligentsia and the civil society to have their own discourse on Kashmir. “I appeal to professors, lawyers, political scientists, scholars and other professionals in Kashmir, please do not let India and Pakistan monopolise the discourse on Kashmir.”
Mr. Noorani conditioned a solution to Kashmir with three main tests. The solution should be such that a Kashmiri leader could announce it in Lalchowk, a Pakistani leader in Mochigate Lahore, and an Indian leader at the Red Fort. Questioning the Indira-Abdullah accord of 1975, he dismissed it as one between two politicians and not between India and Jammu and Kashmir . It had nothing to offer the people, he said .
On the occasion, the former Chief Minister and PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed invited the Hurriyat Conference to join what he called the struggle tofind a way forward for Kashmir. There is a need for a dialogue on the Kashmir issue, and this is the golden and historical opportunity to solve the long-pending issue, Mr. Sayeed said .
He asked his arch rival the National Conference to support the PDP for a consensus on some broader points on Kashmir. “I think article 356 should not be applicable to the State. So let us agree on some broader points,” Mr. Sayeed told the NC.
He also invited the Hurriyat to join hands with the PDP and other mainstream parties to achieve something practical on Kashmir. “If we can achieve something, we will achieve it by working jointly. So I invite the Hurriyat to join hands as there is an opportunity,” he said. The former Union Home Minister impressed upon New Delhi to learn lessons and start trusting Kashmiris.
“When the situation turned hostile in Kashmir, India’s then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao promised that the sky was the limit. Atal Bihari Vajpayee said the Kashmir issue will be solved within the ambit of humanity. Now Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is saying one thing, and the Army Chief totally negates that the Army will be thinning or the AFSPA [Armed Forces Special Powers Act] be revoked,” he said.