This year started with some substantial claims by India and Pakistan on the settlement of Kashmir issue. Though no details were made public but whatever was divulged amount to `revelations’. For example, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh at a press conference in New Delhi said on January 3,2014 that he tried to improve relations with all neighbhours to the best of his ability and on one time it appeared that important breakthrough was in sight. However, he said, even in Pakistan for example that General Parvez Musharaf (former President) had to make way for a different setup. The Indian Prime Minister claimed that Kashmir issue was “ almost arrived at” between India and Pakistan. But the Prime minister did not spell any contours of the “almost arrived at ” solution. Next day, BJP made much of the claim and insisted the PM to divulge the details. However, nothing was said. Similar claims have been made by Pervez Musharaf earlier. This at least leads credence to the powerful speculations that both the countries have been trying hard to end the Kashmir headache by arriving at some honorable solutions.
The Nawaz Sharief seems much interested in improvement of relations with New Delhi. In fact the improvement of relations with India is one of the `cherished goals’ of foreign policy of Islamabad. The improved relations mean breakthrough on the issues of Siachen, Sir Creek and Kashmir. But till date nothing has come out. The seriousness of Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that Sartaj Aziz, former Foreign Mister, is now advisor to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief. Aziz is very influential and the one who is double minded on friendly relations with India. He pursues his agenda with all seriousness. And another most important figure in the issue is Shehryar Khan, former foreign secretary, appointed as the point man for back channel talks. Sartaj Aziz claimed that back channel talks are continuing and shall continue after elections in India to expect any major headway. However, on January 7, Shehryar Khan divulged a bit of very sensational details regarding the Kashmir solution which probably India and Pakistan have had “arrived at” but not announced. Khan said that twice Kashmir issue was very near to solution, one during Valpayee’s tenure and later during Musharaf’s period. Khan, wrongly attributes the solution as the Chenab Formulae because he claims that both the countries were ready for give and take of territory which would leave Srinagar within Indian control and Pakistan was to get some territory west of Chenab and India some territory in the eastern sector. This is not Chenab formulae. In Chenab formulae river Chenab is considered as the permanent border. Any such solution envisages loss of territory on the Indian part with minor border adjustments. Hence when Shehryar Khan claims that Pakistan is persuing a solution which shall leave Srinagar, rather Kashmir valley in Indian hands, this really is no solution or no Chenab formula. This is not even General Mushraf’s 4-point formula which he envisaged as interim solution to arrive at a final solution in better times in future.
The fact is that the statements amounting to some kind of revelations on by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Sartaj Aziz and Shehryar Khan should have raised eyebrows in the political circles, particularly in the resistance camp in Kashmir. It was a time to engage with these statements and the politics behind them. Only Syed Ali Shah Geelani warned Pakistan on the statement of Shehryar Khan. But warning Pakistan from Islamabad’s point of interest is no strength to oppose any so-called sellout. Hollow threats do not amount to any genuine political engagement. At least this much should be convincing that Pakistan has not put Kashmir at the backburner. It wants to get rid of the headache and in the process actually offers substantial advantages to India. But, New Delhi seems uninterested. For all those who fear any sell out the only consolation is that Indian state is a failure in diplomacy. Even when neighbours offer it advantages, New Delhi does not accept. All through the past sixty years no meaningful treaty was signed with Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. India thinks it below her dignity to sign pacts with smaller neighbours and even with China it is ready to lose territory continuously but never to agree on some border agreement. This is case of Pakistan all the issues at stake: Siachen, Sir Creek and Kashmir, Islamabad offers to accept. At the end of the day, any solution with Pakistan amounts to sell-out and detrimental to the status of the most powerful country of South Asia.
Hence, it could be safely presumed that “almost arrived at” even if to larger Indian advantage shall never be “arrived at” given the psychology and history of Indian state. This merely reflects the readiness of Islamabad to give away and stay free.
It is highly unlikely that there could be any pro-active and creative political response to the back channel diplomacy of India and Pakistan from Kashmir’s political groups. Their mantra is more vertical division among themselves and wistfulness to get included in “talks”. Otherwise indications are enough to get politically alarmed and conscious.