2. Geography & History
4. The Accession
5. Tribal Raids and the Accession
6. The United Nations
7. Pakistan's aggression against India
8. Pakistan's aggression: 1984-1998
9. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir
10. The Northern areas
11. Indian Position
12. Pakistan's anti-India propaganda
In recent years Jammu and Kashmir has been the subject of international focus. Unfortunately, discussion on the issue has largely been flawed by misunderstanding of the State's history and its present situation. Pakistan, in promoting its own territorial ambitions, has deliberately sought to project a distorted version of developments in the State since 1947 when the State joined the Union of India, in an attempt to disguise its own sustained effort at undermining the tranquillity of this "Eden of Bliss".
Pakistan continues to look upon the issue of Jammu & Kashmir as one that lies at the very core of India's relations with Pakistan. This is manifested by Pakistan's pronouncements and its repeated aggression against India, initially in the form of conventional wars and then by sponsorship of terrorism. This strategy is born of Pakistan's non-acceptance of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India, made with the full support of its people then led by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. The fact that the two communities had coexisted for centuries, that a sizeable section of India's Muslims chose to live in India, that a princely state with a sizeable Muslim population like Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India of its own volition, and that the Muslim majority wing of Pakistan separated and became independent Bangladesh, are aspects of history that challenge the principle that peaceful and beneficial co-existence was not possible.
Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of the Indian Union in 1947 through final accession in accordance with the legal framework determined by the British Parliament for the independence of the Indian subcontinent. This was sought to be undermined by the use of military force in 1947, which though successfully resisted by the Kashmiris with the support of India's army, resulted in a portion of the State remaining under Pakistan's occupation. Again, in 1965 Pakistan sought to capitalise on local disturbances to foster insurgency, but on failing to suborn the local Kashmiri population, infiltrated armed personnel into the State leading to war with India, ending with the Tashkent Declaration of 1965. In 1971, under threat of an insurgency in its own eastern wing Pakistan again sought to divert world attention and extend the conflict into Jammu & Kashmir. This brought about defeat and the loss of its eastern wing with the emergence of independent Bangladesh.
In complete contravention of the Tashkent Declaration of 1965 and the Simla Agreement of 1972, signed after two wars, Pakistan, still addicted to its quest to wrest Jammu and Kashmir by force, changed strategy and embarked on a programme of sponsoring terrorism in the State. Since 1989, with over 20,000 people killed, Pakistan continues its proxy war against India. Even after the Kashmiris voted for democracy and again elected their own government in 1996, signalling their disenchantment with terrorist violence, Pakistan has not given up its policy of trying to disrupt the free democratic polity of Jammu and Kashmir. Disappointed with the response of the Kashmiris to its calls for what it sought to promote as a "holy war" in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan has taken recourse to sending in battle hardened Pakistani, Afghan and other mercenaries who have distinguished themselves only by drenching the soil with the blood of the very people whose interests they claim to champion in the name of religion.
India remains committed to dealing with all matters pertaining to its relations with Pakistan, within the bilateral framework of the Simla Agreement. Solutions that entail a rewriting of history or a redrawing of geographical boundaries and possible population transfers can, however, never be countenanced.
GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY
The terms "Kashmir" and "Muslim" are often loosely, and erroneously, used when referring to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has deliberately fostered this misrepresentation to stake its claim to what it terms a "Muslim State".
Indeed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is by no means a homogenous religious or ethnic entity. Like the rest of India, it represents a mosaic of different religions, different ethnic groups and cultures as do many other States of India. In its entirety, the State consists of Jammu to the south, Ladakh in the northeast and geographically the smallest segment Kashmir, comprised mainly of a river valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. All three segments are distinguished by their diversity. Jammu has a majority Hindu population(60%), but with substantial Muslim and Sikh minorities. Poonch, Rajouri and Doda, three of its six districts have Muslim majorities. Variations of Punjabi like Dogri and Pahari, are the languages most widely spoken , together with a smattering of Kashmiri. Ladakh has two districts; one, Leh, overwhelmingly Buddhist and the other, Kargil, overwhelmingly (73%) Shia Muslim. The languages there are Ladakhi and Balti. Kashmiri is not indigenous to this geographically largest constituent of the State. The Kashmir Valley itself is predominantly Muslim, with small components of Hindus and Sikhs. Kashmiri is the predominant language, but with entire regions speaking Shina and Pahari.
The constituent units of the State of Jammu and Kashmir still retain many of their distinctive religious, ethnic and linguistic features. This heterogeneity was not lost even when they were incorporated in one or the other empire – Maurya, Kushan, Mughal, Sikh or British, and today it reflects the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of India.
Ancient Kashmir is steeped in legend. It is said that the Kashmir Valley was once the great lake Satisar (the Lake of the goddess Sati, also known as Durga), home to ferocious demons. Responding to the penances of the great sage Kashyapa, the grandson of Brahma himself, the gods destroyed the demon of the lake, with a pebble divinely caste, which today stands as the hill upon which towers the fortress built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and known today as Hari Parbat. The water of Satisar was drained through a breach in the mountains at what is now the mouth of the Valley, beyond the northern town of Baramulla (or the Sanskrit name of Varaha Mukh, the visage of the boar). From then on the Valley has carried the name of its founder. Like that of the rest of India, the ancient history of the State lacks detailed documentation although stuff and legend have been indistinguishably mired in the work of Rajatarangini by Kalhan whose identity remains a source of conjecture. In the 3rd Century BC, the state was incorporated into the Maurya Empire under Asoka, founder of the city of Srinagar. Buddhism became the principal religion which continued into the times of the Kushanas (1st and 2nd centuries AD), the names of many of whose rulers several towns in the Valley were named and continue to be borne by several towns in the Valley, such as Kanispora after Kanishka, and Hushkora after Huvishka. It was in Kanishka's time that the 3rd Great Buddhist Council was held in Srinagar, formalising the split between the schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Thereafter Buddhism declined in the Valley though it retained its vibrancy and continues to thrive in Ladakh.
In the 8th century, Kashmir rose to become the centre of a great kingdom , spanning much of North India and parts of Central Asia under Lalitaditya Muktapida, who was builder of the Martand (sun) Temple, and founder of the Valley's irrigation canal irrigation system which has survived for centuries, helping water rich harvests of the finest rice, a variety of temperate fruit and exotic crops such as saffron.
Islam came to India through traders, warriors and missionaries from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. The faith came to Kashmir through the Sufi saint Bulbul Shah in the early fourteenth century, finding wide acceptance. The ruling monarch Rinchen Shah converted to Islam and assumed the name of Sadruddin in 1327 AD. Thereafter, beginning with his former general Shahmir, a series of Muslim dynasties ruled the State with brief interludes of annexation into neighbouring States, to become a part of the Mughal Empire in the late 16th century, under its greatest ruler Akbar. The State was fully incorporated into the systems of administration and land settlement which long remained a legacy of that Empire in India, well after its own disintegration.
All through this period the religious activity of the Shaivites and Sufis continued to flourish, and fed the vibrant stream of Kashmiri culture. Lal Ded, Kashmir's great poetesses was also among her foremost Shaivite ascetics and mentor to one of Kashmir's greatest Sufi saints, Sheikh Nooruddin, whose school of Sufism is called 'Rishi' and who is revered by Hindus as Nand Rishi. The songs of Habba Khatoon, queen to the last Sultan of Kashmir before it fell to the Mughals, who retired to the life of a hermit in the hills of Gurez after her husband's deportation, still resonate with the peasant women harvesting rice in Kashmir's fields.
The rule of the Mughals has been coloured by romance, the modern remnants of which are to be found in the masterful architecture and layout of their world famous gardens in Kashmir: Shalimar, Nishat, Chashme Shahi, Chinar Bagh. A graphic account of the pomp and panoply of the Emperor's cavalcade to Kashmir has been left to us by the French physician Francois Bernier who was in the court of the Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Imperial Court called on the Kashmiri Pandits, famed for their scholarship, to man courtly positions in Delhi. Thus it was that the ancestor of the Nehrus was recruited by the Emperor Farrukhsiyar in the early 18th century to serve as imperial scribe.
The defeat of the Empire at the hands of the Afghan brigand Ahmed Shah Abdali forced the ceding of Kashmir to the Afghans in 1753 AD, leading to a period of unmitigated brutality and widespread distress, which remained cruelly etched on the public memory, reinforced by the happenings of 1947. The greatest of the Sikh rulers Maharaja Ranjit Singh won Kashmir in 1815. On the defeat of the Sikhs by the British, the latter annexed and then sold Kashmir to the local feudatory Gulab Singh, who then assumed the title of Maharaja. His dynasty continued to rule the State under British paramountcy till the events described hereafter.
Indian Independence Act 1947 – Section II
Territories of the New Dominions
1. Subject to the provisions of sub-sections (3) and (4) of this section, the territories of India shall be the territories under the sovereignty of His Majesty which, immediately before the appointed day, were included in British India except the territories which under sub-section (2) of this section are to be the territories of Pakistan.
2. Subject to the provisions of sub-sections (3) and (4) of this section the territories of Pakistan shall be (a) the territories which on the appointed day, are included in the Provinces of East Bengal and West Punjab as constituted under the two following sections; (b) the territories which, at the date of the passing of this Act, are included in the Province of Sind and the Chief Commissioner's Province of British Baluchistan; and (c) if, whether before or after the passing of this Act but before the appointed day, the Governor General declares that the majority of the valid votes cast in the referendum which, at the date of the passing of this Act, is being or has recently been held in that behalf under his authority in the North-West Frontier Province are in favour of representatives of that Province taking part in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the territories which, at the date of the passing of this Act, are included in that Province.
3. Nothing in this section shall prevent any area being at any time included in or excluded from either of the new Dominions, so, however, that–(a) no area, not forming, part of the territories specified in sub-section (1) or, as the case may be, sub-section (2), of this section shall be included in either Dominion without the consent of that Dominion; and (b) no area which forms part of the territories specified in the said sub-section (1) or, as the case may be, the said sub-section. (2), or which has after the appointed day been included in either Dominion, shall be excluded from that Dominion without the consent of that Dominion.
4. Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section (3) of this section, nothing in this section, shall be construed as prevention, the accession of Indian States to either of the now Dominions.
"TRIBAL RAIDS" AND THE ACCESSION
Pakistan then sent tribal invaders and ostensibly decommissioned Pakistan Army officers into Jammu and Kashmir. While Pakistan has always claimed that its government was not behind the raids and that these were spontaneous expressions of Muslim sentiment following reports of killing of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, the facts are revealed by Major General Akbar Khan, the officer given responsibility for organising the raids: He states in his book "Raiders in Kashmir" '..I wrote out a plan under the title "Armed Revolt inside Kashmir". As open interference or aggression by Pakistan was obviously not desirable it was proposed that our efforts should be concentrated upon strengthening the Kashmiris internally'and .. to prevent arrival of armed civilian or military assistance from India into Kashmir…" . Margaret Bourke-White describes the plunder by the raiders:
"Their buses and trucks, loaded with booty, arrived every other day and took more Pathans to Kashmir. Ostensibly they want to liberate their Kashmiri Muslim brothers, but their primary objective was riot and loot. In this they made no distinction between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims".
"The raiders advanced into Baramulla, the biggest commercial centre of the region with a population then of 11,000, until they were only an hour away from Srinagar. For the next three days they were engaged in massive plunder, rioting and rape. No one was spared. Even members of the St. Joseph's Mission Hospital were brutally massacred."
Unable to prevent the raiders' brutal advance which was marked by large-scale killings, loot and arson, the Maharaja, on October 24, 1947, appealed for military assistance from the Government of India. The Indian Government felt that only if the state had acceded to India could there be the legal basis for India to intervene, whereupon the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947. A simultaneous appeal for assistance and for the state's accession to the Indian Union was also made by Sheikh Abdullah, leader of the National Conference, and the undisputed leader of the people, who had for his views been imprisoned by the Maharaja's government into September '47 and released only under pressure of India's Prime Minister.
On receipt of the signed Instrument of Accession from the Maharaja, preparations were made to fly Indian troops to the State. The formal letter of acceptance of the Accession was signed by Lord Mountbatten on October 27 making Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India even as Indian forces were airlifted to Srinagar.
The Accession of Jammu and Kashmir was final and unconditional. It was offered and accepted in the same manner and according to the same legal stipulations as the Accession of princely states, to Pakistan: the decision was made by only the ruler of the princely state as required under the India Independence Act. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, there was further endorsement of the accession by the largest Kashmiri Party, the National Conference, and subsequently the State's own popularly elected Constituent Assembly.
THE UNITED NATIONS
The United Nations Security Council first took cognisance of the Jammu and Kashmir issue in 1948 after the accession of the State to India, and at India's behest. A distortion of the nature of the Security Council's involvement has been fostered over the years by Pakistan to try and project that it was the status of Jammu and Kashmir that was the subject under discussion.
It was India that approached the Security Council on January 1, 1948 with the request that the Security Council intervene to vacate Pakistan's aggression and illegal occupation of Indian territory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
India approached the Security Council of January 1, 1948, and said: "Such a situation now exists between India and Pakistan owing to the aid which invaders, consisting of nationals of Pakistan and of tribesmen from the territory immediately adjoining Pakistan on the North West, are drawing from Pakistan for operations against Jammu and Kashmir, a State which has acceded to the Dominion of India and is part of India…The Government of India request the Security Council to call upon Pakistan to put an end immediately to the giving of such assistance which is an act of aggression against India." India was the complainant before the Security Council against aggression by Pakistan.
The United Nations Security Council appointed a United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). Initially Pakistan continued to deny any role in the tribal raids maintaining that it was a natural response of the martial tribes to reports of killings of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. Later, however, in July 1948, Sir Zafarullah Khan admitted to the UNCIP that three regular Pakistani Brigades had been fighting in Kashmir territory since May 1948.
The UNCIP taking note of the developments adopted a resolution on August 13, 1948, divided into three parts. The first part called for a cease-fire. The second part called for Pakistan to withdraw its nationals and tribesmen and to vacate the territory occupied by it. Then after the above stipulation had been implemented India was to withdraw the bulk of its forces from the State leaving an adequate number behind to ensure that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir maintains law and order and peace, a clear indication that the UNCIP believed that Jammu and Kashmir was a part of India. Part (3) of the Resolution to be implemented after parts (1) and (2) stated that both India and Pakistan had reaffirmed their wish that the future status of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people.
Yet the ensuing months, after the adoption of the resolution, saw Pakistan brazenly advancing deep into Baltistan and Ladakh, hundreds of kilometres to the east while the so-called Azad Kashmir forces, which were to be disbanded, were expanded and consolidated and formed what the UNCIP Military Adviser described as a "formidable force".
A subsequent resolution was adopted by the UNCIP on 5, January 1949 on the same issue. However, this resolution was to be binding only if the stipulations of the resolution of August 14, 1948 had first been met. India accepted this resolution also. It is noteworthy that while India accepted the two resolutions, Pakistan balked at implementing even the first one and has still , even after the passage of fifty years, not vacated the territories of Jammu and Kashmir seized by it. Indeed, the portion of the State now called the Northern Areas, has been declared a part of Pakistan, separate to the entity named "Azad Kashmir"
It is very significant that during the debates in the UN Security Council and in the wording of the two resolutions the sovereignty of India over Jammu and Kashmir was taken as accepted.
Speaking in the Council of February 4, 1948 the representative of the United States of America, Warren Austen said "..The external sovereignty of Kashmir is no longer under the control of the Maharaja.. with the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India, this foreign sovereignty went over to India and is exercised by India and that is why India happens to be here as a petitioner..".
The UNCIP Resolution of 5 January, 1949 stated that "..The Secretary General of the United Nations will .. nominate.. a Plebiscite Administrator.. He will be formally appointed to office by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.. The Plebiscite Administrator shall derive from the State of Jammu and Kashmir the powers he considers necessary.."
Subsequently, on 26 January 1957 at the 765th meeting of the Security Council the representative of the Soviet Union stated "The question of Kashmir has been settled by the people of Kashmir themselves. They decided that Kashmir is an integral part of the Republic of India".
The last time that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir came before the UN Security Council was in the aftermath of the 1965 India Pakistan war. The perfunctory passing reference to Jammu and Kashmir, with no reference to the resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 demonstrates that, for the world community, the Kashmir issue was no longer of any consequence and would have been forgotten if it was not for the war forced by Pakistan on India in 1965.
The irrelevance of the 1948 and 1949 resolutions to the contemporary situation was highlighted by the President of the Security Council, Gunnar Jarring in his report to the Council in 1957 when he said ".. The Council, will, furthermore, be aware of the fact that the implementation of international agreements of an ad hoc character, which has not been achieved fairly speedily, may become progressively more difficult because the situation with which they were to cope has tended to change.."
Dr. Frank Graham, the UNCIP's representative stated in March 1958 ".. the execution of the provisions of the resolution of 1948 might create more serious difficulties than were foreseen at the time the parties agreed to that. Whether the UN representative would be able to reconstitute the status quo which it had obtained ten years ago would seem to be doubtful…..".
If, in 1957 and 1958, Mr. Jarring and Mr. Graham felt that the resolutions of 1948 and 1949 could not be implemented because of the changed situation, the sheer implausibility of these resolutions having any meaning today is self-evident. The State of Jammu and Kashmir to which these resolutions applied does not exist any longer with a part of the territory having been handed over to China by Pakistan and demographic changes having been effected in Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas.
The changed situation in terms of peoples' representation in Government is nowhere more evident than in the part of Jammu and Kashmir with India. India became a Republic in 1950, with the will of the people. Pursuant to the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India the Constitution of India made provision to accord to State of Jammu and Kashmir a special and protected place in the Indian polity, under Article of 370 of the Constitution. In 1951, the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly was elected by secret ballot, for which all J&K State subjects were eligible. It adopted, in 1956, the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir which declared that the State of Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and that Accession to India was final and irrevocable.
The Accession of the State to India had never been an issue for the Kashmiris. In the 1947, 1965 an 1971 wars, even according to disinterested international commentators, the people of Jammu and Kashmir actively blunted Pakistan's attempts to incite insurgency and participated vigorously cooperation with the Army to ensure victory. In 1975, Sheikh Abdullah, the undisputed leader of the Kashmiris, and the Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi concluded the Kashmir Accord with both sides accepting the validity of the Constitution of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, reiterating the status of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian Union. A little over a year later, in 1977, elections were held. These elections are internationally endorsed as free and fair including by the International Commission of Jurists. In these elections, the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was not questioned. It was a non-issue. Sheikh Abdullah who in 1947 had supported the accession and then endorsed it again in 1975, won the elections handsomely, even though arrayed against him was India's then ruling party, the Janata, supported by a range of local parties including Mirwaiz Farooq's Awami Action Committee and the Jama'at Islami. The Congress was not a serious contender. If any signal was needed, there could be no clearer indication that Abdullah's policies, including his belief in the legitimacy of the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India, had the support of the people of the State.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have participated in elections to Parliament and the State Assembly many times. It is an expression of their will, expressed through the ballot box, that the National Conference, a supporter of Jammu and Kashmir's accession to India, remains the dominant political party in the State, first under Sheikh Abdullah's leadereship and, following the latest Assembly and Parliamentary elections in 1996, and 1998 under his son Dr Farooq Abdullah.
It is ironical that after itself being responsible for non-implementation of the Resolutions at the time when they were adopted, Pakistan today seeks to capitalise on the situation of violence created by it in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is incongruous that Pakistan seeks the implementation of out of date resolutions in some parts of the State, when even the state of Jammu and Kashmir does not exist as it did in 1947, thanks to Pakistan's 'generosity' in unilaterally ceding to China part of the territory of the State, and occupying another part.
Pakistan's bid today to revert to the Resolutions of 1948 and 1949 is merely a ploy to camouflage its continuing activity to destabilise Jammu and Kashmir and to capitalise on the situation that it has created through the use of terrorists and mercenaries.
PAKISTAN'S AGGRESSION: 1984-1998
Pakistan's policy with regard to India and other neighbours like Afghanistan, is not determined only by the civilian government. It has always been the prerogative of the armed forces and, more particularly, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), even during periods of civilian rule.
The ISI is often referred to as a state within a state. The ISI received a boost when it served as the front-line conduit for the training, arming and support of the Afghan Mujahideen during the war against the erstwhile Soviet Union. It was associated with the use of the heroin trade to finance the Afghan Mujahideen's operations and the present Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, had once told the Washington Post that his top army brass had approached him for approval to use drug money to finance the ISI's operations against India. The ISI is closely associated with the Taliban movement both in imparting training and in battlefield strategy and operations.
India has always remained a prime focus of the ISI's activities and with regard to Jammu and Kashmir, the ISI has been pivotal in organising operations of mercenary outfits like the Harkat ul Ansar, declared and subsequently banned, as a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit by the United States of America. Jane's Intelligence Review in its October 1997 issue carried an article on the Harkat ul Ansar that detailed the organisation's operations and said "..the complicity of the ISI is more than merely passive. The Harkat ul Ansar owes its considerable arsenal in large measure to the generosity of the Pakistani Government, or, more specifically, its intelligence service.." Instructors in the camps run for the Harkat ul Ansar, some of which were bombed by the United States of America after the attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, train not only extremist Pakistanis and Kashmiris, but also cadres for operations in Tadjikistan, Bosnia, Myanmar and even the Uighers of Xinjiang Province of the People's Republic of China. Alumni of these training camps have also been identified with terrorist activities in the USA, France, the Philippines, Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere.
The present ongoing phase of Pakistan's aggression was initiated in 1984, exploiting the vulnerability of a public bereaved by the passing away of their great leader Sheikh Abdullah and subsequent political uncertainty brought on by leadership squabbles in the ruling National Conference. As the situation deteriorated, civil grievances which are normal in any society but which are open to resolution, were exploited to breed disaffection, with some sections then being brain-washed, armed, financed and instigated into violence. This brutal exploitation of a peaceful people has been marked by over 20,000 killings, the disruption of society and the calculated destruction of basic health, education and economic infrastructure. The blackest mark on this period will remain the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and many Muslims driven by an enveloping fear through use of terror, which was deliberately fanned by those who would see an end to the age old tolerance of the Kashmiri psyche.
A selective killing of prominent persons Hindu, Muslim and Sikh, to spread fear and suffocate differences of opinion, and to paralyse the economy, press, judiciary and administration, since 1989 has been the strategy of the terrorists. Those killed included Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq,the revered Muslim clerics and Imam of its Jama Masjid or Cathedral mosque, Maulana Maudoodi, a 90 year old scholar, veteran of the freedom movement, former lieutenant of Sheikh Abdullah and among the most respected of the leaders of the Gujar community, Qazi Nissar Ahmed, the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir, Mir Mustafa, a legislator, Lassa Kaul, Director of Doordarshan, Srinagar, H.L. Khera, General Manager Hindustan Machine Tools, Professor Musheer ul Haq, Vice Chancellor Kashmir University, Nazir Ahmed Wani, Member of Kashmir's Legislative Council and countless other officials and defence personnel. Any person who represented the State's authority, considered unfriendly to the militant's cause, or held in esteem by the local people and thus able to influence their thinking towards peaceful resolution of conflict and opposed to militancy and Pakistan's machinations, became a target.
Despite well documented evidence to the contrary, Pakistan persists in claiming that it is only providing "moral, political and diplomatic support" to what it calls an indigenous Kashmiri uprising in Jammu and Kashmir. But the truth behind the latest phase of Pakistani sponsored violence has been spelt out in the book 'Fateh' the biography of the former Chief of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence, General Akhtar Abdul Rehman. His biographer Brigadier Haroon Rashid states "..The plan which General Akhtar Abdul Rehman had made for Kashmiris movement for independence was to come into effect in 1991. It appears that this plan was made with the struggle for the liberation of Afghanistan in mind, which it was thought would be achieved by spring 1989… However the Kashmir plan was inaugurated in 1984.. The Kashmiris were provided with some arms which were not suitable for the Afghan Mujahideen.
The year 1984, mentioned by Haroon Rashid, is significant as it was in 1984 that an Indian diplomat, Ravindra Mhatre, was murdered in Birmingham(UK) by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. Amanullah Khan, Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), sought refuge in Pakistan and still lives there and conducts his anti-India activities openly. Hashim Qureshi, an associate of Amanullah Khan, now resident in the Netherlands, has in his book "Kashmir: Unveiling the Truth", laid bare the plotting of the murder and the horrors that were to follow in Kashmir. Terrorism escalated in the Kashmir Valley starting in 1989. Pakistan first used the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, with its pro independence ideology, to mobilise a mass movement. The period between 1989-90 was marked by the targeted killing of Government officials, media personnel, members of the judiciary, and members of the minority Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) community and Kashmiri Muslims who dared question the terror tactics and excesses of the terrorists. One immediate effect, between January and April 1990 was the resignation of the duly elected State government, the massive exodus of nearly 2,50,000 Kashmiri Pandits and over 50,000 Kashmiri Muslims from the valley with the Pandits settling in refugee camps in Jammu, Delhi and other cities in India. The objective of creating terror and mayhem, paralysing the State administration had met therefore with what would have seemed quick success. This in turn led Pakistan to distance itself from those seeking independence, who it had earlier sought to cultivate to instigate disaffection in the State, and increasingly seek to encourage those that favoured joining Pakistan.
A tactic used to telling effect by the militants was to attack the security forces from the cover of crowded market places and civic facilities, so as to have a human shelter or embroil civilians into crossfire. The State's response inevitably led to clashes with both militant and civilian casualties. The deaths of civilians then became the substance of campaigns orchestrated by Pakistan and the militant groups alleging oppression of the Kashmiris and violation of their human rights by the government. Because in each case of such allegation, government would immediately seek to investigate the truth through its own administrative infrastructure, it was established that while in some cases there might have been overreaction by the security forces working under enormous threat and pressure, other cases were wildly exaggerated. In each case of established excess, legal action against personnel implicated, was initiated by government.
Cordon and search operations to flush out the militants provided militants and their supporters the ground to accuse the security forces of mass rapes. Such was the case in March 1991 in Kunan Poshpora Village of Kupwara District, in which a mass rape of 23 women was alleged. The allegation was enquired into by a team of senior civilian and military officers, on the site of the supposed occurrence with interviews with alleged victims. The allegations were found to be groundless.
A sustained propaganda campaign to highlight alleged human rights' abuse was used by Pakistan as an instrument to internationalise the Jammu and Kashmir question. The context in which incidents occurred and the environment of violence created by the terrorists was conveniently glossed over. Exaggerated, and often fabricated, instances of human rights' violations were used as a tool of psychological warfare and were accepted at face value by gullible observers with little or no perspective on the ground situation. In response, and to deal with specific cases of excess, the Government of India strengthened supervision and set up a National Human Rights Commission in 1993, whose functioning has been lauded by all human rights groups with which it has interacted. This is an autonomous commission, free from the dictates of government and staffed by retired judges and eminent persons. After restoration of a democratic government in the State in 1996, the State has set up a similar Commission at the State level under the Chairmanship of a highly respected Kashmiri judge.
On its part the Government and the security forces investigated all allegations of human rights abuses and, where substantiated, punishment was meted out to the erring personnel. It is, however, ironic that the security forces whom the militants accused of human rights violations, continue till today to be deployed to provide security to the leaders of the secessionist and militant groups, whose lives have been threatened because of their resolve to abjure violence in seeking their political ends.
Since the ideology favouring independence of Jammu and Kashmir could not be countenanced by Pakistan, the period starting 1990 witnessed the creation of groups determined to install an extremist Islamic regime in Jammu and Kashmir, and to ensure its accession to Pakistan. The major responsibility to execute this strategy was given by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to the Hezbul Mujahideen, whose present Supreme Commander, Syed Salahuddin, continues to reside in Pakistan. Other groups that proliferated, primarily to blunt the hold of Pakistan's opponents in the militancy, included Hezbullah, Allah Tigers, Al Barq, etc. This period witnessed increasing internecine warfare with extremist groups seeking to suppress the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. The thrust of their campaign was to invoke religion to seize legitimacy. As a result they sought to impose a blinkered version of Islamic tenets at the point of the gun, resulting in the destruction of schools, cinemas, restaurants, and a ban on all forms of entertainment. Women were particularly affected since some extremist groups, defying the very grain of Kashmir's culture, tried forcibly to confine them to indoors and the veil, akin to what the Taleban have done in Afghanistan, but without success. To teach a lesson some Muslim girls were in fact attacked and injured. This in fact generally alienated womenfolk from the movement, although many had earlier been supportive of the secessionists through organisations like the Dukhtaran-i-Millat.
This period witnessed the media in the Valley constantly attacked by the militants, even though these same elements had been initially supportive of militancy, and demanded that anti-terrorist articles not be carried; government announcements be boycotted; the "martyrdom" of the militants be eulogised, as also the campaign posing as "liberation". Attacks on newspaper offices and printing presses and the killing of eminent journalists and editors became frequent. Among other incidents the 'Srinagar Times' was attacked; the 'Aftab' was bombed; the editor of Al Safa, Mohammed Shaban Vakil , a respected journalist and leading critic of government, was shot dead in his office. Some journalists from the national publications, who wrote against militancy, had their papers banned from entering the Valley at various times. In short, a determined effort was made to strangle freedom of the press, surely a basic tenet of liberty. Only the BBC was spared somehow.
The effort of Pakistan's surrogates to establish their ascendancy in the movement reached its peak in October 1993, with the siege of the shrine at Hazratbal, considered the holiest in Kashmir by its people, the administration of which had provided the launching pad for the career of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, whose sermons there were the bedrock of his movement for freedom. This was an effort to provoke a confrontation between the JKLF militants and the military by feeding provocative and misleading information to each, so that the shrine would become a battleground, thus simultaneously shaking the foundations of the Sufi tradition of Kashmir, not palatable to the narrow minded, who consider the religious practices therein heretical, decimating the pro-independence JKLF, and bringing the Indian army into disrepute. Simultaneously, the All Party Hurriyat Conference emerged, partly as a defensive mechanism to control internecine conflict, and partly to give political voice to what had degenerated into a violent terrorist campaign with few remaining pretensions of liberty.
The Hurriyat leaders like to refer to themselves as the "true representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir". They have sought legitimacy not by public acclaim through the acknowledged process of elections, but through fear as many of their leaders are affiliated with one or the other militant group. The irrelevance of the Hurriyat to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the situation in the state, became visibly apparent during the elections held in 1996. The Hurriyat leaders conducted a house to house campaign calling on people to boycott the elections. Despite their threats and pleas the people turned out in large numbers to vote in most parts of the state except in some pockets which were known to be in thrall of the militants.
The failures of the Hurriyat internationally and in the Valley led Pakistan's ISI to create the Shoora-i-Jehad in 1996 as the coordinating authority to undertake both militant and political activities. The move was aimed at ensuring continuing ISI control. The growing disenchantment of the Kashmiri people with violence as a form of grievance redressal, this move also met with little success, and added to mutual distrust and exacerbated misgivings.
The extremist ideology of groups like the Hezb ul Mujahideen and their open insistence on Kashmir's accession to Pakistan, finally made Kashmiri's realise that Pakistan had neither their freedom nor their interests at heart, but had been cynically manipulating them to fulfil its own territorial ambitions. The increasing criminalisation of the militant groups contributed further to Kashmiri disenchantment and fear. The philosophy of tolerance and co-existence, embodied in the culture of Kashmiriat, had become the prime target of the extremist groups, and was seen to be in danger of being submerged in a frenzy of fanaticism.
By the end of 1993, however, it became more clear that, after nearly five years of violence, the Kashmiris were thoroughly disillusioned. With the decline in numbers of Kashmiri youth willing to be indoctrinated and trained as terrorists, Pakistan took recourse to sending in battle-hardened mercenaries from Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries, including many veterans of the Afghan war. They came under the banner of the Harkat ul Ansar and Lashkar e Tayyaba to bolster the fighting ability of the pro-Pakistani militant groups. Their disregard for the Kashmiri psyche, and their depredations in the Valley, further strengthened the resolve of Kashmiris against violence and against the Hurriyat and its constituents who had willingly invited these foreigners into what the people had been led to believe was a Kashmiri movement to right political wrongs. With facts coming through more and more through propaganda, and peaceful resolution of the siege at Hazratbal, with the civil and military authorities working closely together to ameliorate the difficulties of the people contributed, with other developments to a perceptible change in mood, with increasing numbers of people returning to work with government and security agencies in restoring order.
In 1994 the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir, Qazi Nisar Ahemd, was killed in Anantnag. His widow and the local people blamed the Hezb ul Mujahideen, and processions and demonstrations condemning the militant group and Pakistan took place in the town. In the same year the Harkat ul Ansar kidnapped Kim Housego and David Mackie, two British tourists. The action was widely condemned by the people of Jammu & Kashmir leading to the militants capitulating and their release.
In 1995 mercenaries of the Harkat ul Ansar and the Hezb ul Mujahideen led by a Pakistani national Mast Gul, seized another revered shrine in Charar e Sharief resulting in the mindless destruction of both the shrine and the surrounding township. Mast Gul was given a hero's welcome in Pakistan and paraded through the streets by the Jama'at e Islami the mentor of the Hezb ul Mujahideen. The Harkat ul Ansar issued press releases stating that its cadres had been in the shrine which further aggravated the divide between the centuries old Kashmiri ethos of harmonious co-existence and the extremist orthodoxy being sought to be imposed by the pro-Pakistani groups.
Also in 1995 the Al Faran, a front for the Harkat ul Ansar, kidnapped five foreign tourists and beheaded one of them, a Norwegian named Hans Christian Ostro. In light of widespread public disapprobation, the Hurriyat was constrained to condemn this act of wanton killing. The hostages remain untraced till today. Surprisingly, the hue and cry in countries abroad was muted. One American made a daring escape from his terrorist captors and was rescued by a vigilant team on a government helicopter. His adventure was largely ignored by foreign media. John Donald Chiles does not appear to have been interviewed in print or on the electronic media.
The period 1993-96 thus witnessed a changing mood in the Kashmir Valley against militancy and towards seeking some solution to the crisis. The media became more vocal in its criticism of the activities of the militant groups and the "guest militants" as the mercenaries were called by the Kashmiri militant groups. The release through judicial process of prominent jailed suspected militant leaders like Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik, the formation of political fronts by former militants disillusioned with Pakistan and militancy, and the revival of political activity by known and established parties in the face of threats from Pakistan, the Hurriyat and the mercenaries, bolstered the mood in Kashmir. The restoration of the democratic process was seen as a way out after years of violence. Pakistan made desperate attempts to prevent these developments but to little avail.
Responding to the changed public mood, the Government of India organised Parliamentary and Assembly elections in 1996 in Jammu and Kashmir. The large participation of the people in the elections despite calls for boycott by the Hurrriyat and Pakistan, despite threats from the militants and mercenaries and the continued targeted killing of political activists and the Kashmiri Muslims holding different views, was a clear manifestation of the desire of the Kashmiris for peace. The Kashmiris voted back to power with a two-third majority, their own old party, the National Conference, with Dr Farooq Abdullah at its head. Some sections of the foreign media gave undue weight to the presence of security forces needed to maintain order in the face of terrorist threats to disrupt the Parliament elections. This criticism was, however, more subdued with the Assembly elections following Parliament elections, with an even bigger voter turnout.
Since the installation of the elected Government in October 1996, there has been significant change in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Life has, more or less, returned to normal in the capital Srinagar. Markets are open, festivals and marriages are celebrated in the age old manner with song, music and dance, tourists are coming back to the Valley, trade is beginning to flourish again, the houseboats are no longer idle, winter sports and cultural programmes have been held and the process of reconstruction of the infrastructure has begun. Leaders formerly aligned with the Hurriyat like Shabir Shah have formed new political parties and have begun to talk in terms of participation in the elections, though with reservations. Umar Farooq revived his slain father's Awami Action Committee. Differences have cropped up between him and the Hurriyat, and he organised separate meetings, without consulting the Hurriyat, to commemorate the tragic day of his father's assassination by the militants. His meeting drew large crowds and the Hurriyat was compelled to go along with him.
Parliamentary elections were held in again in February/March, 1998. There was overwhelming participation in the Valley despite calls for a boycott by the Hurriyat and by Pakistan, and dire threats from militant groups against voters, candidates and electoral officers. The period had been preceded by targeted attacks against political workers. In the elections, the local Jammu and Kashmir government staff manned polling booths, and officials did not require to be called in from outside the State; there was overwhelming participation despite inclement weather. One significant if little noticed aspect was the participation, as candidates, of people like Muzzaffar Beg, a Supreme Court lawyer, who had always represented the Hurriyat, and the widespread participation of youth in campaign rallies and the election process. Elements from within Hurriyat affiliated groups are believed to have quietly supported the candidates even as the Hurriyat officially boycotted the election. A close aide of Shabir Shah, Naeem Khan, who had broken with Shah, spoke in favour of the democratic electoral process. Such sentiments were also expressed to the media by ordinary people in Jammu and Kashmir who crave a return to normalcy. The Hurriyat call for strikes failed. There were no reports of coercion and almost no untoward incidents, save a few stray cases of violence.
Internecine squabbles continue within the Hurriyat. Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Jama'at e Islami was made the Chairman of the Hurriyat in place of Umar Farooq, a development that drew an adverse response both from Umar Farooq and many other constituents of the Hurriyat because of Syed Ali Shah's known predelictions on Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. Separately, G.M. Bhat the leader of the Jamaat e Islami claimed that the Jama'at did not believe in violence and that the Hezbul Mujahideen was not the armed wing of the Hurriyat – a claim disputed by Syed Salahuddin the Pakistan based 'supreme commander' of the Hezb who claimed that the Hezb was the armed wing of the Jama'at-e-Islami. Bhat's attempts to move the Jama'at-e-Islami away from violence earned him the ire of Geelani's supporters.
On the militant front, there is growing evidence that Kashmiri involvement in the militancy has ceased. Violence does recur sporadically, but is now largely the work of mercenary groups comprising Pakistanis, Afghans and others operating in the Valley under the Lashkar e Tayyaba and the Harkat ul Ansar. This has given a new dimension to the nature of militancy. Pakistan's role in sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is well documented by the international media, independent observers and even the US State Department. The latter has identified the Harkat ul Ansar as a terrorist outfit operating from Pakistan. Some functionaries in Pakistan have shed all pretence and senior Ministers of the Government and a Stat eGovernor have openly visiting the training camps of outfits like the Lashkar e Tayyaba endorsing their calls to 'jehad' against India. Virtually discomfited in the Kashmir Valley, the ISI has sought to move terrorist operations to Poonch, Rajouri, Doda and Udhampur sectors, with the objective of targeting Hindus in the hope of inflaming communal passions and inciting communal conflict. No such backlash has occurred.
The Government of Pakistan has now shed the fig leaf of denials of supporting the terrorists. In November 1997 the Lashkar e Tayyaba held an open congregation at its headquarters at Muridke near Lahore in which it called for a continuing jehad against 'Hindu India', cynically forgetting the secular nature of India with 140 million Muslim citizens, and extolled the activities of its 'fighters' in Jammu and Kashmir. Shortly afterwards on January 25, 1998, the eve of India's Republic Day, terrorists massacred over 29 Kashmiri Pandits, men, women and children, at village Wandhama, only a few miles from Srinagar. Then, in April 1998 Pakistan's Minister for Information, Mushahid Hussain, along with the Governor of Punjab, visited the Muridke Camp of the Lashkar and, in the presence of the media, blatantly commended their activities. This is what Pakistan calls moral support. The next day twenty three Hindu civilians were killed in Prankote Village in Jammu division, by militants from the Lashkar e Tayyaba and Hezb ul Mujahideen. Another massacre took place in June 1998 at Champanari village in Doda district when 25 Hindus, all civilians, were murdered.
PAKISTAN OCCUPIED KASHMIR (SO-CALLED "AZAD KASHMIR")
In terms of territory, the area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is 222,236 sq kilometers while the area illegally occupied by Pakistan is 78,114 sq. kilometers.
The areas occupied by Pakistan comprise so-called "Azad Kashmir" (referred to hereafter as POK for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and the Northern Areas of Gilgit, Baltistan and Hunza, etc. Pakistan does not trust the administration of POK to handle the Northern Areas which Islamabad considers strategically vital. The Northern Areas which have been incorporated into Pakistan, are five times the size of the area designated as 'Azad Kashmir'.
As a constitutional enigma POK is unique. It has been given the trappings of a country with a President, a Prime Minister and a Legislature of its own. But POK is neither a country or a even province.
From the time of the Karachi Agreement (April 28, 1949) the POK President and the Prime Minister have enjoyed only titular power. The Karachi Agreement between Pakistan, POK and the Muslim Conference handed over matters related to defence, foreign policy, negotiations with the then UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and co-ordination of all affairs relating to Gilgit and Ladakh areas to Pakistan. Residual powers were kept vague. Pakistan retained control of the following subjects :
2. 'foreign policy' of POK
3. rehabilitation of refugees and
4. control over all affairs of Gilgit and Ladakh.
The POK government was saddled with overseeing:
1. policy with regard to administration
2. general supervision of administration, and
3. publicity of its own activities. The charter of the Muslim Conference was restricted to publicity on the plebiscite and 'general guidance of the POK government'. The Karachi Agreement was a landmark in that it sought to institutionalise Kashmiri subservience to Pakistan and put POK in its place.
It was the Chief Plebiscite Officer of the Pakistan Government who controlled all the levers of power in the initial stages. On the ground, the power vested in the officers deputed by Pakistan's government to POK.
The Chief Plebiscite Officer was notified as the Chief Advisor to the Government of Pakistan, ex officio. He was a Joint Secretary in the Central Government but in actual terms right from 1949 to 1968, he was the de facto ruler of POK. He owed nothing to the POK Government as he was appointed by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs, which was formed in 1952 under the general supervision of the Home Ministry. In 1963 Ayub Khan transferred it to his Presidential Secretariat.
When Gen. Ayub Khan took power and unseated President Iskander Mirza, political activities in POK were banned. Once Ayub felt confident enough to release the pressure of the army's stranglehold on Pakistan, he conceived the idea of 'Basic Democracies'. This system was more in tune with colonial thinking and practice, providing that only people who fulfilled certain criteria like basic education, or income levels, should be allowed to exercise their franchise. The Basic Democracies were extended to the POK in 1960 through the Azad J&K Basic Democracies Act.
For the first time, the POK President and the POK Council were to be elected, through the indirect means of 'Basic Democracies'. The Council remained a mere advisory body. The President was elected in 1961 through an electoral college of 1200 indirectly elected basic Democrats in POK and another 1200 who represented Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan. K.H.Khurshid, was the first President of POK and was dismissed in 1964 because he began asserting himself. He wanted POK to be a party to the Indus Waters Treaty, a treaty which he clearly opposed.
The 'Outlook' of Karachi wrote on August 14, 1964: "The uncomfortable truth is that the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs has acquired a vested interest of its own. It treats 'Azad Kashmir' territory and Gilgit-Balistan areas as its own domain which a Joint Secretary controls as Chief Advisor. His overlordship is supreme and without such checks and balances as are applicable to areas of Pakistan. The possibility of friction between the 'Azad Kashmir' government and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs has always been there. The Ministry likes to deal with puppets, not with the Presidents who take their position too literally".
In 1968, an attempt was made to soft-pedal POK for a while. Some cosmetic reforms were introduced abolishing "the practice whereby the Presidents of Azad Kashmir were selected, in effect, by the Minister of Kashmir Affairs. In future they would be chosen by a State Council of twelve individuals, eight elected directly through Basic Democracies, and four nominated by the President of Pakistan.
A new Interim Constitution of POK was promulgated on November 5, 1975 during the time of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which made the Prime Minister the executive head instead of the President of POK. As a result of this, a 13-member Azad J&K Council was formed, with the Pakistan Prime Minister as Chairman and the POK President as Vice-Chairman. Islamabad could nominate six members to the Council who had to be either Pakistani Federal Ministers or Members of the Pak National Assembly. The Chairman, along with these six federal nominees, gave the Government of Pakistan a majority in the Council.
Along with this constitution, the Presidential Election Bill was also passed on August 25, 1974 providing for the direct election of the President through adult franchise, and of the PM by a majority in the Assembly. Later there was a switch, through an amendment, which envisaged that the PM was to be the head of the executive in place of the President.
Power, however, still rested with the officials of Pakistan, and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad with regard to all legislation and appointments, questions of general policy, budget, internal security, matters involving heavy financial commitment, public debts and loans, taxes and important matters relating to civil supplies.
General Zia-ul-Haq dissolved the POK Legislative Assembly on August 10, 1977. On July 31, 1979, Zia issued a martial law order suspending all political activities in POK. Political activity in POK remained suspended till June 17, 1985 when Sikandar Hayat took over as Prime Minister and Abdul Qayyum took over as President after an election, restricted only to 'registered' parties, thus disqualifying the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
For POK, self determination, as inscribed in the constitution, relates to the ultimate accession of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan. Part 2 of Section 7 of the POK Constitution states: "No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State's accession to Pakistan".
Under Section 5(2) (vii) of the POK Legislative Assembly Election Ordinance 1970, a person would be disqualified for propagating any opinion or action in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, the ideology of State's accession to Pakistan or the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. The same caveat applies to anyone who "defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary of AJK of Pakistan or the Armed Forces of Pakistan".
In the 1996 elections in POK parties and candidates who wished to participate on the platform of independence and refused to sign the declaration calling POK's accession to Pakistan an article of faith, were denied the right to field candidates.
While guaranteeing freedom of speech, Article 9 of the POK Constitution, imposes "reasonable restrictions in the interests of the security of AJK and friendly relations with Pakistan". The oath of office for the President, PM, Minister, Speaker, MLA or MLC of POK clearly includes the following clause: "That I will remain loyal to the country and the cause of accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan".
Section 56 of the Constitution gives the Pakistan Government all the rights. Nothing shall "prevent the Government of Pakistan from taking such action as it may consider necessary or expedient for the effective discharge of those responsibilities". The responsibilities are defined under Section 31 and include UNCIP resolutions, defence and security of POK, currency and issue bills and the external affairs of POK. Islamabad has the right to dismiss the POK Government under this clause.
The events in and political configuration of POK during the earlier regimes in Pakistan show that:
· POK was devoid of franchise till 1960, since no election was held till then;
· From 1960 to 1975 the only elections held were indirect, through the 'Basic Democracies' of Ayub Khan;
· POK has been effectively governed through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad and through a Chief Advisor of the rank of a Joint Secretary;
· Since Bhutto's Constitution in 1974, the main executive authority in POK rests with the Council of which the Pakistan PM is the Chairman and which he dominates with his six nominees; and
· Each executive head of Pakistan, be it General Ayub Khan, President and then Prime Minister Bhutto or General Zia, did exactly what he wanted in POK, brought in martial law or the form of government which he desired, suspended political activities when he chose, and sacked the President/Prime Minister he disliked. The latest victim was Prime Minister Mumtaz Rathore, who was dismissed, arrested and flown by helicopter to a Pakistani prison in 1991. After the elections in June 1996, the President of POK, Sikander Hayat Khan, was removed through a voice vote in the Assembly.
THE NORTHERN AREAS
The Northern Areas have no status. They are neither a province of Pakistan nor a part of "Azad Kashmir". They are ruled directly from Islamabad through a Northern Areas Council which is headed by Pakistan's Minister for Kashmir Affairs. A chief executive, normally a retired Pakistani army officer, appointed by Islamabad is the local administrative head. The Northern Areas Council is headed by the Minister of Kashmir and Northern Areas and meets only when the minister convenes it.
This mountain outback has been split into five districts, viz. Gilgit, Skardu, Diamir, Ghizer and Ghanche. Its population of 1.5 million inhabits a vast area of 72,495 sq. kms. Sparsely populated as the area is, the ethnic groups are varied – Baltees, Shinas, Vashkuns, Mughals, Kashmiris, Pathans, Ladhakhis and Turks. It numbers many languages like Balti, Shina, Brushaski, Khawer, Wakhi, Turki, Tibeti, Pushto and Urdu.
The Northern Areas are a story of deprivation of a people and their land devoid of any development and denial of basic fundamental rights. There is no adult franchise, no assembly and the people have never participated in an election or sent representatives to the National Assembly. The prestigious Pakistani magazine the 'Herald' has termed the Northern Areas "The Last Colony".
The literacy rate is 14 per cent for males and 3.5 per cent for women! There is just one doctor for 6,000 people. Piped water supply is non-existant. So is electricity for more than two thirds of the population of the area. Except for some brick kilns there is no 'industry' in the area. An area of 72,495 sq. kms. had in 1993, according to the Pakistan daily, 'Muslim', (December 13, 1993), mettled roads extending merely to 162 kms.
There are only two colleges in the area. There is not a single polytechnic in this seventy thousand square kilometer land. The only paper K2 carries on its mast head the legend "Voice of a constitutionless land". There is no radio or TV station.
Seeing no economic prospects in Pakistan, the Mirpuris who inhabit POK migrated in large numbers to the countries of the West. But the people from the Northern Areas are not even afforded this concession. They need an exit visa for going abroad, which is given only in the rarest of cases.
The reason why the Northern Areas have been kept by Pakistan in its own bear-hug is unilateral ceding of an area 2,700 sq. miles to the Chinese through an agreement on March 2, 1963. The entire area belonging to Hunza, south of the Mintaka Pass, was handed over to the Chinese. The border agreement which related to the alignment of the entire boundary line between China's Sinkiang and the contiguous areas under the actual control of Pakistan was ceded: "The two parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the government of the People's Republic of China on the boundary as described in Article II of the present agreement of Kashmir so as to sign a boundary treaty to replace the present agreement ……"
Had the Northern Areas had an elected assembly of their own, the above issues would surely have been discussed in the legislature there as well.
The Northern Areas have remained deprived of a High Court and of the facility of writ petitions against arbitrary State action. Even a death sentence is confirmed by the court of Judicial Commissioner. The Gilgiti cannot appeal to the Supreme Court. The Northern Areas have not had the benefit of any legislature or legislative representation for decades. Under Dogra rule, members from Gilgit and Baltistan were represented in the State Assembly.
None of the constitutions of Pakistan, adopted in 1956, 1962, 1972 and 1973 – recognised that Northern Areas are part of the Pakistan territories. Conversely, the 1974 Interim Constitution of POK also did not include Gilgit and Baltistan. This resulted in the passing of the 'Legal Framework Order' which placed the Northern Areas under the total control of the Kashmir Affairs Ministry. In 1982 General Zia ul Haq proclaimed that the people of the Northern Areas were Pakistanis and had nothing to do with the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
A writ petition under Section 44 of the POK Interim Constitution Act of 1974 was filed by some residents of the Northern Areas. They jointly invoked the writ jurisdiction of the POK High Court claiming that the petitioners were bonafide citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and hence eligible to approach the court for redress. They challenged the Pakistani view that the Northern Areas were not a part of Kashmir but were a part of Pakistan. They also contended that even the Sino-Pakistan Agreement of 1963 conceded that the Northern Areas were a part of the State of J&K. The Government of Pakistan took the specious plea that the Government of Pakistan "was not functioning or operating within the territory of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (and) as such it was not amenable to the jurisdiction of this court". Pakistan also denied the well-known Karachi Agreement of April 28, 1949 "whereby the administrative control of Northern Areas was delivered to the Government of Pakistan". The high Court of POK however decided that the so-called Northern Areas were a part of POK. Pakistan, of course, never implemented the POK High Court decision and had it vacated by the Supreme Court of POK which said that the POK High Court had no jurisdiction to issue any order giving the Northern Areas to POK.
In another case when the Al Jihad Trust and others filed a petition before the Supreme Court of Pakistan demanding that fundamental rights be accorded to them including representation in the Federal Legislatures and the right of self-determination, the Government of Pakistan held that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had no jurisdiction since the Northern Areas were not, in terms of Pakistan's constitution, a part of Pakistan.
No political activity is permitted. Some political parties like the United Jammu and Kashmir People's National Party and the Balawaristan National Front and others have been raising the slogan of self determination only to see their demonstrations crushed and their leaders arrested. Demonstrations by students in Gilgit seeking employment have been crushed brutally. The Gilgit Baltistan United Action Forum for Self Rule has been demanding the right to self-rule under the UNCIP resolutions on Gilgit and Baltistan.
India has remained committed to developing and maintaining close and friendly relations with all its neighbours. It has promoted regional cooperation in social, cultural, political and other fields through the SAARC mechanism and in other ways. This would be the best guarantor of an improvement in the living standards of the people of India and its neighbouring countries. With Pakistan, India has remained committed to the establishment of a cooperative relationship based on mutual respect and a regard for each other's concerns. There is much that the two countries can do together in the fields of trade, agriculture, industry; in environment; in the promotion of cultural and people to people contacts. India will work towards the resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, through a direct bilateral dialogue process as mandated in the Shimla Agreement. There is no place for any third party involvement of any nature whatsoever in such a process.
Any discussion on improving relations cannot, and should not, envisage a re-writing of history. Relations have to move forward from the present to a brighter future. With regard to Jammu and Kashmir there can never be any question of any discussion on the status of the state or on the question of its accession to the Indian Union. These are unalterable facts of history which cannot be re-opened or questioned. India has concerns about continuing Pakistani support to and instigation of terrorism in the State of Jammu and Kashmir as well as its illegal and forcible control of Part the State's territory since 1947.
India's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the issue is reflected in its agreeing to uphold the status-quo as has existed since 1947. It is significant that the Cease-Fire Line was changed to the Line of Control in 1972. This was not merely a change of nomenclature but a consequence of an agreement, seeking to adhere to the status quo by all means. Pakistan's attempts over the past nine years to alter the status quo through proxy war are headed for failure as its earlier attempts through open hostilities and war failed in 1948, 1965 and 1971.
It is a fact universally acknowledged that a democratic polity is best equipped to enable the people to fulfill their aspirations and govern their own destiny in an atmosphere of freedom. Participatory government where the people choose their own representatives and leaders is the most effective instrument for the social, economic, political and cultural development of a nation providing also for the preservation and strengthening of the identity of the various ethnic, religious and racial communities that constitute today's nation states.
India has been regarded as the world's largest functioning, stable and secular democracy since its independence over five decades ago. And the democratic tenets that govern the rest of India have also held sway in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In this lay the rationale for Sheikh Abdullah's decision to call for, and repeatedly endorse, the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. Since the accession the people of Jammu and Kashmir have participated in elections while the Constitution of India, in terms of article 370, provides the framework that guarantees the special identity and status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union.
If indeed the desire of the world community is to ensure peace and stability and to permit the people of Jammu and Kashmir the right to determine their own destiny in an atmosphere of freedom, this can only be achieved under the democratic framework of modern India and not under the kind of extremist, obscurantist polity that the ideology of the terrorist and mercenary groups seeks to impose on the people of the State.
Accordingly, the Indian position, in the face of Pakistan's propaganda over the years has remained consistent.
· The accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir took place as per the provisions of the India Independence Act and is final and legal and cannot be disputed. The States that acceded to Pakistan did so in the same manner and the rulers decision was accepted. Pakistan made no attempt to ascertain the will of the people of these states. If there is any "unfinished" business of partition it is the requirement that Pakistan relinquish control of that part of Jammu and Kashmir that it illegally occupies.
· The UN Resolutions calling for the will of the people to be ascertained are no longer tenable because Pakistan has not fulfilled the precondition of withdrawal from the territory it occupied through aggression. This resulted in a long delay in the implementation of the Security Council Resolutions and led Mr. Gunnar Jarring, the Representative of Sweden on the UN Security Council and the President of the Council, who had been requested by the Council to explore options of arriving at a solution through discussions with India and Pakistan, to observe in his 1957 report to the President of the Security Council that "…The Council will, furthermore, be aware of the fact that the implementation of international agreements of an ad hoc character, which has not been achieved fairly speedily, may become progressively more difficult because the situation with which they were to cope has tended to change …" In the meantime, the will of the people of J&K has been repeatedly determined through elections in India.
· After Pakistan's attempts to alter the status quo by force of war in 1965 it has forfeited the right to invoke the UN Resolutions. The fact that the Council stopped recalling the resolutions of 1948 and 1949 underscored the irrelevance of those resolutions with the passage of time.
· The will of the people does not need to be ascertained only through a plebiscite. Democratic elections are a recognised means of ascertaining the wishes of the people and the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir have repeatedly participated in such elections. The same cannot be said of the parts under the occupation of Pakistan where, in the Northern Areas, adult franchise has still not been granted.
· Kashmir is not an Islamic or a religious issue and the two nation theory has been seen to be irrelevant. A sizable Muslim community chose to live in India at the time of partition rather than move to Pakistan. The most prominent Kashmiri political party, the National Conference, headed by a popular Muslim leader, Sheikh Abdullah sought and endorsed the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation proved conclusively, if further proof were needed, that the notion that all Muslims of the sub-continent would wish to be a part of Pakistan, which is the basis of Pakistan's claim to Jammu and Kashmir, was a fallacy.
· The extremist structure that Pakistan wishes to impose on Kashmir is alien to the Kashmiri ethos which has been one of tolerance and coexistence with its origins in the Sufi expression of Islam that is Kashmir's heritage.
· The problem of Kashmir today is one of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. The targets are Muslims in Kashmir, belying Pakistan's argument that it is concerned about the welfare of Muslims in Kashmir. The international community must impress upon Pakistan to desist from such terrorism so that the democratic political process, which India has restored to the state, is not held hostage by terrorists who, even now, continue to target political leaders, the majority of whom are Muslims.
· The internal situation of Jammu and Kashmir is, by the will of its people, strictly India's affair and there is no call for any international intervention.
· India wants to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan and has started a dialogue for this purpose. However the integrity and sovereignty of India cannot be a matter for discussion. India is committed to protecting the human rights of all its citizens and for this purpose militancy must be eradicated.
· Every State has the duty to protect the life and property of its citizens and cannot countenance their security being threatened by armed terrorists. Any discussion of the question of human rights must take into account the environment in which the state authorities have to function. Jammu and Kashmir has been a target of Pak sponsored terrorism for years and this aspect is fundamental to any discussion of human rights. The Indian Government has sought to maintain transparency in the state. International and Indian media personnel, foreign diplomats, the International Committee or the Red Cross, all have free access to Jammu and Kashmir. The National Human Rights Commission of India and the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission are performing a stellar role in taking cognisance of, and enquiring into, allegations of human rights violations. The NHRC has undertaken, at its own discretion, investigations into incidents where human rights were reported to have been violated and where these have been substantiated, it has called for punitive action.
PAKISTAN'S ANTI-INDIA PROPAGANDA
The same media and human rights organisations that once appeared to be captive to the Pakistan point of view have begun to report not only on conditions within Pakistan but also produced evidence of Pakistan's support to terrorism.
Pakistan's claim to Jammu and Kashmir based on the two nation theory has been debunked by history itself. The eastern wing of Pakistan, predominantly Muslim and carved out on the basis of the two nation theory, is today the independent nation of Bangladesh, liberated after a war of independence from West Pakistan. Even today India has a larger Muslim population than Pakistan, a clear indication that religion is not the sole basis for a separate nationhood.
The plight of the minorities in the Valley who were specifically targeted for extermination by the extremist groups, has now been well-documented internationally. The increasing criminality of many of the terrorist groups owing allegiance to Pakistan has resulted in repression of the Muslims in the Valley and expressions of outrage which have taken the form of demonstrations against the extremist militant groups as well as Pakistan. The Srinagar press is increasingly reporting intra-group clashes, rape, extortion and murder by different militant groups and statements from some of the groups highlighting the abuses by other groups.
Pakistan's denial of the third option of independence to the Kashmiris ,and the repeated references to the "unfinished business of partition" with its territorial connotations, has caused concern to people in the Valley who, by and large, sided with groups espousing an independent Jammu and Kashmir. It has also exposed the fact that Pakistan has cynically exploited Western sensibilities and used human rights as a ploy to further its territorial ambitions.
Pakistan's role in providing sanctuary and training to mercenaries who are involved in violence in France, Egypt, Tunisia and even the USA; their links with the extremist terrorist groups in Kashmir and the increasing fear of the spread of Islamic extremism in the West with which Pakistan is being associated has caused many countries to look askance at Pakistan's protestations of innocence with regard to terrorism in Kashmir and its sole concern for the human rights of the Kashmiris.
There has been increasing activity on the part of people of POK and the Northern Areas as well as the Mohajirs and the Sindhis who are highlighting in the media and at international fora the repression that they have been suffering at the hands of Pakistan Government. For the first time since Pakistan began its propaganda war against India on the Kashmir issue, it is being made answerable for its own repression of its citizens.
At international fora also terrorism and human rights are getting increasingly linked. The UN has passed resolutions recognising terrorism as a major threat to human rights. Even Islamic countries have identified Islamic extremism and terrorism as a major threat. The links with Pakistan of persons and groups accused of crimes like the World Trade Centre bomb blast; the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; incidents in France, Egypt, and the Philippines, has made many foreign interlocutors wary of buying the Pakistani line on Kashmir.
The focus on the terrorist groups operating out of Pakistan and Afghanistan has sharpened after the United States bombing of terrorist camps in Afghanistan following the attacks on US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The American missile attacks on the camps proved that groups like the Harkat ul Mujahideen, the Harkat ul Jehad Islami and the Jamiat ul Mujahideen, which are active in Jammu and Kashmir, were also training cadres for groups which had targeted the United States and considered the West a legitimate target for their "jehad" or holy war. In the wake of the destruction of the camps, leaders of these groups in Pakistan have openly called for revenge attacks against the United States.
The target of Pakistan's propaganda has indeed been India and the Indian people. Its victims are increasingly the people of Pakistan, fed on falsehoods and rendered vulnerable to the voices of extremism.
What Pakistan has to say?
This dispute dates back to the partition of the British Indian Empire, in August 1947, into two independent states, Pakistan and India. At that time there were also around 565 princely states, large and small, which were under British suzerainty but were not directly ruled by the British Government. Most of these states joined either India or Pakistan taking into account their contiguity to one or the other country and the wishes of their people. There were, however, some states over which problems arose, primarily because of India's insatiable desire to grab territory. For example, the Muslim ruler of Junagarh, a state with a Hindu majority population, announced his decision to join Pakistan.
India responded by aiding and abetting the establishment of a so-called "Provisional Government" of Junagarh on Indian territory, which attacked Junagarh with Indian connivance and support. Subsequently Indian forces also invaded Junagarh, despite protests from Pakistan, in order to "restore law and order". A farcical plebiscite was organized under Indian auspices, and India annexed Junagarh. Similarly, in Hyderabad, a Hindu majority state, the Muslim ruler of the state wanted to retain an independent status. India responded by attacking Hyderabad and annexed the state by force. India sought to justify its aggression against Hyderabad and Junagarh on the plea that the rulers of Junagarh and Hyderabad were acting against the wishes of their people.
In Jammu and Kashmir state, the situation was the reverse. The ruler of the State was a Hindu, while the population was overwhelmingly Muslim and wanted to join Pakistan. In this case, India consistently pressurized the Hindu Ruler to accede to India. Apprehending that the Hindu ruler was likely to succumb to Indian pressure, the people of Jammu and Kashmir rose against him, forcing him to flee from Srinagar, the capital of the State. They formed their own government on 24th October, 1947. On 27th of October, 1947, the Government of India alleged that the ruler had acceded to India on the basis of a fraudulent instrument of accession, sent its forces into the State and occupied a large part of Jammu and Kashmir.
But Indian leaders, including Jawahar lal Nehru, the Prime Minister and Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India, solemnly declared that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir would be decided by the people of the State. This declaration was reiterated by India at the UN Security Council when the dispute was referred to that august body, under chapter 6 of the U.N Charter relating to peaceful settlement of disputes. The Security Council adopted a number of resolutions on the issue, providing for the holding of a fair and impartial plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under UN auspices to enable the Kashmiri people to exercise their right of self-determination and join either Pakistan or India. The UN also deployed the United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) to monitor the cease-fire line between the Liberated or Azad Kashmir area and the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). These resolutions were accepted by India and Pakistan and constitute an agreed legal basis for settlement of the dispute.
India, however, thwarted all attempts by the United Nations to organize a plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Eventually, India openly resiled from its commitments and declared that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India.
The Indian armed intervention in the State of Jammu and Kashmir was illegal and took place against the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Despite the decision of the UN Security Council for the holding of a plebiscite to allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their own future, India's own pledges to that effect, and reiteration of their commitment of resolving the Kashmir issue in the Simla Agreement of 1972 signed between Pakistan and India after the 1971 war, India continues to remain in illegal occupation of a large part of Jammu and Kashmir, refuses to allow the Kashmiris to decide their own future and continues its brutal suppression in the territory.
Moreover, India went on to violate other aspects of the Simla agreement, specifically the undertaking that neither side shall change the ground situation, by occupying the Chorbat La, Siachen & Qamar sectors, an area over 2500 sq. kilometres between 1972 to 1988.
After more than four decades of a peaceful struggle against Indian repression, manipulation and exploitation, the Kashmiri people, convinced that India would never honour its commitments, and inspired by similar movements for freedom in other parts of the world, rose against the Indian occupation towards the later part of 1989. Their struggle was, and remains, largely peaceful. India sought to suppress their movement with massive use of force, killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children. This led some of the Kashmiri youth to take up arms in self defence. Since 1989, more than 60,000 Kashmiri people have been killed in a reign of terror and repression unleashed by over 600,000 Indian troops. Many more languish in Indian jails where they are subjected to torture and custodial deaths. There have been numerous cases of gang rapes of Kashmiri women by the Indian forces and the deliberate burning down of entire localities and villages.
These brutalities have been documented by International and even Indian Human Rights Organizations. Organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as Indian human rights NGOs have extensively documented the gross and systematic violation of human rights of the Kashmiri people by Indian military and para-military forces. Extra judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detentions, rapes and torture continue to be reported on a large scale. The Kashmiri leaders have been repeatedly harassed and physically intimidated. They have also been denied travel permission to prevent them from exposing Indian human rights abuses in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The massive suppression by India is clearly designed to silence the people of Jammu and Kashmir through sheer brutality bordering on genocide and ethnic cleansing.
India refuses to acknowledge that the people of Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) have become totally alienated and there is complete rejection of Indian occupation. Several Kashmiri political parties have formed the all Pakistan Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) to continue the political struggle for self-determination. The APHC, therefore, constitutes the true representative of the Kashmiri people.
Instead of accepting the existing reality, India has sought to blame Pakistan for allegedly promoting the Kashmiri uprising. The fact is that this movement is completely indigenous and enjoys mass support. The Indian allegations against Pakistan are a ploy to mislead the International Community and to create a smokescreen behind which they can continue repression in IHK. Pakistan has offered to enable the UNMOGIP or any other neutral force to monitor the LoC, along which India has deployed several thousands of its troops and has mined the entire area. Indian refusal to accept these proposals, exposes their false allegations.
A peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions remains on top of Pakistan's foreign policy agenda. To demonstrate its sincerity in finding a peaceful solution to this core issue, Pakistan has always sought a meaningful and substantive dialogue with India. However, the Indians have refused to engage in meaningful talks on Kashmir, claiming the territory as an integral part of India. Only when compelled by extraneous factors or international pressure, such as in 1962-63, 1990-94 and again after May 1998, have the Indians agreed to talks on Kashmir. But this dialogue has been sterile because the Indian objective has never been to find a settlement but to deflect international pressure by creating the facade of talks.
During 1962-63, the Indians agreed to talks on Kashmir under U.S. persuasion at a time when their relations with China had deteriorated and the Sino-Indian war took place and it was necessary for India to protect its western flank with Pakistan. Between 1990-94, India was hard pressed for a dialogue, again due to international pressure following the indigenous Kashmiri uprising which began in the end of 1989. Under pressure from the US, following the mission of the American President's Special envoy, Robert Gates to the region, India engaged in seven rounds of talks at the Foreign Secretary level. Due to continued Indian intransigence, however, this process broke down in January 1994. After a hiatus of three years, talks were resumed at the initiative of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after he assumed office in March 1997. Following Foreign Secretary level talks in June 1997, an agreed agenda was adopted which includes the specific issue of Kashmir. More importantly, in the meeting between Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India in September 1998, the two leaders agreed that resolution of the Kashmir dispute is essential for peace and security in the region. During Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to Lahore in February 1999, the Lahore Declaration was adopted committing both sides to intensify efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Indian willingness to hold specific talks on Kashmir has been compelled by growing international concern over the Kashmir issue following the nuclear tests by India and in response by Pakistan in May 1998. This nuclearization of South Asia has converted Kashmir into a nuclear flash point and the U.N. Security Council through resolution 1172 as well as the G-8 and P.5 countries, apart from a number of world leaders, have expressed the urgent need for a dialogue to resolve this root cause of tensions between Pakistan and India.
While the first round of talks on Kashmir was held in October 1998 between the Foreign Secretaries, as per the agreed agenda of June 1997, there was no change in the Indian position. India rejected Pakistan's frame work proposal for a structured and substantive dialogue on Kashmir, maintaining its intransigent position that the status of Kashmir was not open for discussion.
Even though India agreed in the Lahore Declaration to intensify efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue, in February 1999, it resorted to delaying tactics for holding the next round of talks. In May 1999, India dealt a severe blow to the dialogue process by launching massive military operations, involving air and ground forces, on the Kashmiri Mujahideen in the Kargil Sector and across the Line of Control on Pakistani controlled areas. The Indians also rejected our efforts to defuse the situation, including the proposal for immediate cessation of hostilities, mutual respect for the LoC and resumption of the dialogue process in accordance with the Lahore Declaration.
At the invitation of President Clinton, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the US on 4-5 July 1999 and held indepth discussions with the US President on all aspects of the Kashmir situation. A Joint Statement issued as a result of these talks reflects identity of views on the need to resolve the current situation as well as the larger issue of Kashmir which is central to durable peace and stability in South Asia. It recognizes and underscores the need for both India and Pakistan to respect the LOC in accordance with the 1972 Simla Agreement. It also speaks about concrete steps to be taken for restoration of the LOC. As Pakistan has no presence across the LOC the only concrete step on our part can be to appeal to the Mujahideen who have already achieved their objective of bringing the Kashmir issue back to the international focus of attention.
The two leaders agreed that the Lahore process provides the best forum for resolving all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India including Kashmir. According to the Joint Statement the President of the United States stands committed to his personal involvement to expedite and intensify the process for resolving the Kashmir dispute. This is for the first time that the US has agreed to play a direct role in the search for a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute. India continues to rely on brute force to silence the Kashmiri people. Not only has the campaign of repression been intensified in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, but additional forces were inducted in November 1998 as part of the new 'pro-active' policy and later in the Kargil operation, Indian forces have now been increased to over 730,000. This clearly points to the failure of the current Indian policy to hold the Kashmiri people against their wishes by force.
Pakistani public opinion remains deeply incensed with the wide-spread atrocities committed against the innocent Kashmiri people by Indian military and para-military forces.
The government's policy on the Jammu and Kashmir issue enjoys national consensus. Pakistan maintains its principled stand in accordance with the relevant
UN Security Council resolutions that call for a plebiscite under UN auspices. It is in keeping with the solemn pledge made to the Kashmiri people by Pakistan, India and the international community.
In order to find an early and just solution to the 50-year old Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has welcomed offers of good offices and third-party mediation. It has encouraged the international community to play an active role and facilitate the peaceful settlement of disputes between Pakistan and India.
While Pakistan is committed to a peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, adequate measures have been taken to safeguard the country's territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
Pakistan will continue to extend full political, diplomatic and moral support to the legitimate Kashmiri struggle for their right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant United Nations resolutions. In the context of the bilateral dialogue, it calls on India to translate its commitments into reality. At the same time, it will encourage the international community to support and supplement our efforts to establish lasting peace and stability in South Asia on the basis of equitable resolution of all disputes between the two countries, in particular the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
We hope that India will join us in our efforts to bring durable peace to the region for the common benefit of all our peoples. For half a century our region has remained mired in tensions and conflicts. It is our sincere desire to see South Asia enter the next millennium at peace with itself.
Source - ptinews.com