Successive governments at New Delhi have ruled out redrawing of borders between India and Pakistan with respect to Kashmir. Most prime ministers of India have said that any solution to the Kashmir dispute should ensure that the Line of Control (LoC) be “like a border”. Some have, however, advocated free movement of the people of Jammu and Kashmir across the Line of Control in addition to enhancing trade between the two parts of the divided state.
They maintain that, in accordance with normal acceptable behaviour between nations, it is imperative that the people of J&K on either side of the Line of Control be able to move freely from one part to the other. They deem it essential as on both sides of the Line of Control live not only the same ethnic groups but also divided families.
Much has been said about the LoC becoming a permanent though porous border between India and Pakistan. This is also envisaged in the four-point Musharraf formula, albeit in a different manner. The formula talks about joint management of Jammu and Kashmir by India and Pakistan. The people of Jammu and Kashmir, however, have rejected such an arrangement. According to them it is cohabitation with two wives on a single bed.
The separatist leadership, by and large, believes that much headway on Kashmir was made during the Vajpayee regime. Narendra Modi has once again promised to pursue Vajpayee’s policy on Kashmir. There is no denying the fact that the new dispensation would find it very difficult to make headway on Kashmir. But it has finally dawned on right-thinking people in India that the Kashmir question is holding millions of hapless Indians hostage. Solving Kashmir, therefore, can rid India of many a problem presently faces.
Narendra Modi believes in taking decisions, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir expect him to take bold and tangible measures for resolving the issue.
As an emissary of the former prime minister rightly pointed out, a solution to the Kashmir issue will substantially enhance India’s security and strengthen the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region, besides enabling New Delhi to focus more on rapidly emerging long-term geopolitical challenges. It will relieve the burden the Indian security forces have to shoulder in terms of lives and resources, and could boost the Indian economy. The resolution of the Kashmir issue will also enable Pakistan to contribute to the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to their progress and prosperity.