This refers to the exclusive article/open letter, “‘Together we will be able to find some way to take a historic step’” (April 8). Its analysis of the Kashmir issue is both mature and pragmatic. But when the chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq uses the phrase “to the people of India,” he must also include Kashmiris in its ambit. The identity of Kashmir cannot be separated from India, as every region or State has the same connectivity to the idea of India.

I wish to use this as an occasion to call upon the people of Kashmir (I am addressing them as fellow- Indians) to think pragmatically. You have political freedom, you have cultural freedom and you have the right to take your place in the growth story of an emerging nation. Let us not forget that a Kashmiri topped the Indian civil service examination recently. No doubt Kashmiris deserve more freedom at the State level, but a separate identity will not do any good to either you, Kashmiris or to the country as a whole.

Suresh Nandigam,

Jaggayyapet, Andhra Pradesh

Mr. Farooq’s open letter to the “people of India” is timely, and it is something which the next government must examine carefully. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is a Kashmiri leader who is well respected for his political acumen and desire for peace. Unfortunately, he continues to harp on the theory of self-determination, which certainly is not the demand of either the people of Jammu or the Ladakh regions. The “people of India” would like to assure Mr. Farooq and the people of Kashmir that they will continue to enjoy an equal, if not better, status and privileges like the rest of us. Why don’t Mr. Farooq and other separatist leaders in the Valley take the lead in joining the political mainstream and run the administration of the State to the satisfaction of the people? This is what will constitute a “historic step” toward a resolution of the Kashmir issue. As far as peace in the India-Pakistan region is concerned, let us leave it to the respective governments to resolve their differences without invoking the ghost of a nuclear disaster.

A.B. Gorthi,

Secunderabad

Mr. Farooq has rightly pointed out that Prime Ministers past and present have attempted to resolve the issue but failed miserably. But let us look at the facts. When Mr. Vajpayee trusted Mr. Nawaz Sharif and went to Lahore with a message of peace, a wily General in Pakistan was in the final stages of planning the attack on Kargil. When Dr. Manmohan Singh revisited peace, all we got was 26/11. So, blaming India for non-resolution of the issue is unacceptable.

M. Mohammed Ashraf,

Port Blair

What is upsetting is the use of “we” the Kashmiri, and “you” the Indian. This is totally unacceptable and divisive language. Jammu and Kashmir is a State in India and a part and parcel of the nation. If Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is genuine in his fervent prayer for peace, he and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference must involve themselves with democratic and electoral processes and make their voices heard in the State Assembly and Parliament. Otherwise, his words sound divisive or Pakistan-sponsored. And why drag Pakistan into our domestic affairs?

Jose K. Paul,

Bangalore

It is strange that a personality who refers to Indians as “you,” says “your interests,” and alienates himself as a non-Indian then talks about a solution. Jammu and Kashmir will remain a part of India. What makes it worse is that after the many “you’s and yours,” Mr. Farooq shifts to “we” and then hopes to resolve the Kashmir issue together with the rest of us. A true Indian citizen should be sincere to the state, the nation, its great people, languages and religion.

Brown,

Chennai

While it must be appreciated that this is a strong case to resolve the Kashmir issue, there are several points in his open letter which need to be presented in better light. For one, it is silent on the activities in a neighbouring state which also shares a major responsibility in disrupting the peace in Kashmir. Terrorism emanating from this epicentre is now a cause for concern. Kashmir, though an important part of India’s international strategy, is not the only central point of all strategic and diplomatic policies. Arms are exported with respect to broader security issues and not only in maintaining peace in Kashmir. Several countries have a defence budget much greater than ours. The economic slowdown was greater in other countries. In India, the slowdown was certainly not because of Kashmir. Peace initiatives by our leaders have either got an unenthusiastic response, or our leaders have been betrayed.

Ankit Priyadarshi Mishra,

Lucknow

The country maintains the Indian Army in Kashmir and has put in place a security regime not out of choice but out of a commitment to ensure the security of the people of Kashmir and to enable the running of their elected government as smoothly as possible. It is an unsatisfactory arrangement, but cannot be termed a failed policy, because the alternatives can be worse. The idea of a democratic republic of Kashmir, one from which Pakistan and India withdraw their forces, will result in this: the moment Indian forces are removed, there will be a militant insurgency abetted by Pakistan. Whatever elected government is in the saddle, including Mr. Farooq, will be liquidated. That will be the end of the Hurriyat and the “aspirations” of the gentle majority of Kashmir.

A.N. Lakshmanan,

Bangalore

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