Boston Globe, USA
July 28, 2002
By Ghulam Nabi
PEACE AND JUSTICE in Kashmir are achievable if all parties concerned
- India, Pakistan,
and Kashmiris - make some sacrifices. Each party will have to
modify its position so that common ground is found. It will be
impossible to find a solution that respects all the sensitivities
of Indian authorities, values all the sentiments of Pakistan,
keeps intact the unity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and
safeguards the rights and interests of the people of all the different
zones of the state. Yet this does not mean that we cannot find
an imaginative solution.
As Secretary of State Colin Powell visits India
and Pakistan this weekend,
he has two choices before him. One is to continue confining himself
to warning both Pakistan
and India against going
to war with each other. The second option is to play a more activist,
mediatory role in regard to Kashmir by initiating a peace process.
This can take the shape of a quadrilateral dialogue - United
Pakistan, and Kashmir
- or an appropriate use of the newly developed procedures and
mechanics at the United Nati ons.
In neither case would the handling of the dispute be a rehash
of the old arid and acrimonious debates at the UN. The United
States by itself or through the UN would
supply the catalyst that is needed for a settlement. There are
alternative courses of action which can be spelled out and involve
a sequence of interactive steps over a period of time. None of
them would put the peace process in the straitjacket of rigid
adherence to old texts.
When the Kashmir dispute erupted in 1947-48, the United
States championed the stand that the future
status of Kashmir must be determined by the will of the people
of the territory and that their wishes must be ascertained under
the supervision and control of the United Nations. The United
States was a principal sponsor of the resolution
which was adopted by the Security Council on April 21, 1948, and
which was based on that unchallenged principle. The basic formula
for settlement was incorporated in the later resolutions.
These are not resolutions in the routine sense of the term. Their
provisions were negotiated in detail by the UN Commission on India
and Pakistan, and it
was only after the consent of both India
and Pakistan was explicitly
obtained that they were endorsed by the Security Council.
The urgent necessities are:
(a) To demilitarize the arena of conflict - the state of Jammu
and Kashmir - through a phased withdrawal of the troops (including
paramilitary forces) of both India and Pakistan from the area
under their respective control.
(b) To take the sting out of the dispute by detaching moves towards
demilitarization of the state from the rights, claims, or recognized
positions of the three parties involved.
In order to do this, it might be necessary to make demilitarization
of the state the first step towards the reduction of Indian and
Pakistani forces on their borders outside of Kashmir. It is after
the peace-process is set afoot that the rights and claims of the
parties can be considered in a nonviolent atmosphere.
Such an initiative by the United States will not only end bloodshed
and suffering in Kashmir, but also have a direct positive effect
on international security by eliminating regional fighting, national
tensions, and the risk of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
It is in everyone's interest to settle the Kashmir conflict peacefully
without further delay. We don't want to see the horrific nightly
scenes from Bosnia and
Kosovo replaced by an even greater catastrophe in Kashmir.
Fai is executive director of the Kashmiri