SRINAGAR: The conversion of the Line of Control (LoC) between two sides of Kashmir into a full-fledged border could be one of the steps that could help resolve the Kashmir issue, S K Lambah, Special Envoy of the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said Tuesday.
“The borders cannot be redrawn, but the LoC shall be agreed as a full-fledged border between India and Pakistan like any two normal states,” Lambah said while putting forward suggestions, in personal capacity, for a possible solution to Kashmir issue.
“In accordance with the normal acceptable behaviour between nations, it is imperative that the people of J&K on either side of the LoC should be able to move freely from one side to the other. This is particularly essential as on both sides of the LoC live not only the same ethnic groups but also divided families,” he said.
“The tariff and non-tariff barriers in specified localities can be removed, violence has to end, the presence of forces particularly in the populated areas is to be minimized, and there shall be self-governance for internal management in all areas,” he said.
Lambah was speaking here at a seminar titled ‘Discussion between India and Pakistan on J&K—A Historical Perspective’ organized by Kashmir University’s Institute of Kashmir Studies.
Stating that his work with six Indian Prime Ministers in 35 years has enabled him to see how relations with Pakistan have been unchanging priorities of New Delhi, Lambah said, “New Delhi and Islamabad have been working to seek a solution to the Kashmir issue, and these efforts have gathered momentum without the knowledge and involvement of any third party.”
While inviting “practical ideas” for settling the Kashmir issue, he asserted that a “specific outline” for resolving Kashmir hasn’t been available.
“Keeping in view the history, emotions, violence or wars, it may not be easy to specify outline of a possible solution to Kashmir issue. But we have to look for practical ideas that are workable and acceptable while we can learn useful lessons from Simla Agreement or Lahore Declaration,” he said, ruling out war as an option for settling the issue.
“The past six decades have clearly demonstrated that this issue cannot be resolved through war, force or violence. We need to move on.”
Lambah, reading from his seven page document, accepted that settling the Kashmir issue could boost India’s economy and relive it of the burden “shouldered by the country’s forces in terms of lives and resources,” and that the issue is one of India “national security preoccupations.”
“A solution of Kashmir issue will substantially enhance our country’s security and strength the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region and enable India to focus more on rapidly emerging long term geopolitical challenges. It will relieve the burden that our security forces have to shoulder in terms of lives and resources and could boost the Indian economy,” Lambah said.
“Kashmir issue has consumed our enormous political, economic and diplomatic resources and remains, to this day, one of our national security preoccupations,” he said, adding, “Solution of the issue will also enable Pakistan to contribute to the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to their progress and prosperity.”
The gains expected from the resolution of Kashmir issue, he said, may not be automatic and will require sustained efforts.
“But it is worth pursuing, if it opens the door to new future for India and Pakistan without compromising our security, integrity, and constitutional framework. The alternative is status quo of a festering problem and lingering tragedy that will keep us from realizing our potential,” he said, describing Kashmir issue as a “product of the circumstances born at the time of India and Pakistan’s coming into being in the name of religion.”
GoI mulling to make borders irrelevant: Omar
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the government of India was considering making the borders irrelevant.
“Earlier the government of India had given a clear mandate to the Parliament for integrating the two parts of Kashmir on either sides of the LoC. New Delhi is now considering to make the borders irrelevant,” he said, arguing that New Delhi’s Kashmir policy has changed over the years.
“Who says that government of India has adhered to its old position on Kashmir issue? The policy of New Delhi towards the resolution of Kashmir has changed a lot,” Omar added.
He, however, urged upon the need to continue the “ongoing back channel dialogue” between India and Pakistan.
“It is important for the countries to move forward in addressing the long pending issue which has consumed generations,” he said.
Saying that the change in administration in Pakistan has impacted the forward movement in the back channel dialogue, Omar said, “It is most important that the new government taking office in New Delhi carries forward the process of dialogue with Pakistan and takes ahead the progress made in this regard so far.”
“The forward movement seen during President Musharraf’s time didn’t remain the same during Zardari’s period. I hope that the new government in New Delhi will not allow the dialogue process to die,” he said, calling Kashmir issue as a long pending problem.
“One cannot give find a solution acceptable to each and every citizen of the state. We have to work out a solution that satisfies the aspirations of the majority of the people,” Omar said.