Linked with ‘ … Meetings‘, with Paul Beersmans – Belgium, with of BASJAK, with JAMMU AND KASHMIR, A SMOULDERING CONFLICT … , and with … again Kashmir.

See also every post on this blog, treating intensively the Kashmiri questions.

The Belgian Association for Solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir BASJAK was in Kashmir this January-February 2007.Their report can be seen on their Website. Go to BASJAK,
scoll down to ‘Reports of study tours’ and click on ‘Jammu and Kashmir State January-February 2007‘. You will open a WORD.doc.

Here an excerpt of this 21 pages report. Page 19: … CONCLUSIONS

Following conclusions can be drawn, based on the experiences of this study tour to India and J&K State:

a. According to a survey of a neutral think tank, J&K State belongs, within India, to the states with a high degree of corruption. A change of mentality/mindset is required to be brought in J&K State.

b. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is appreciated very much, being sincere, hard working, honest, having good contacts with Delhi and bringing a lot of funds for the developmental projects in the State.

c. There is a lot of critic on the performance of the Government: no unity among the coalition partners, too slow progress regarding development and employment, too much promises but not sufficient results, etc. According to political analysts this is nothing to worry about: in a normal functioning democracy the opposition will always criticize those who are in power, whatever they realise.

d. J&K State is the second richest state of India. Huge amounts are pumped into the State by the Centre. It would be worth watching if heavy investments for developmental projects in the State result in an overall progress of the State.

e. Human rights violations are there. Thanks to Ghulam Nabi Azad transparency has been installed: those who committed custodial killings, fake encounters were brought to book. They were committed by special operations groups of J&K Police, by indigenous people. On the other hand, human rights violations committed by militants continue with impunity.

f. Priority must be given to stop the sufferings of the Kashmiris. This can only be realised by stopping violence as the use of violence and terrorism are the biggest hurdles towards peace. The Kashmiris are totally fed up with the gun from whatever side and want to return to pre-militancy situation. They want to have a future and jobs for themselves and their children. The use of violence is considered to be un-Islamic. The overwhelming desire of the Kashmiris is for restoration of normal civic, social and economic activity and development.

g. The general feeling is that militancy is on the decline. There is no local support anymore. Militancy is perceived to be contained but vested interests are there to keep the pot boiling at an acceptable level. The Kashmiris are against the interference of Pakistan and the foreign terrorists because they are destroying their culture. The Kashmiris realise that Pakistan decides over peace and violence: as long as Pakistan supports terrorism in J&K there can’t be peace and granting more autonomy will not change this reality. Moderates requested the armed groups to stop violence to give peace a chance. Salahuddin, the supreme commander of the militants, operating from Azad Kashmir rejected this and will continue the armed struggle.

h. There is a general appreciation of the cease-fire along the LoC since November 2003 as this brings relief to the population living in that area. This was confirmed repeatedly.

i. The split within APHC between the moderate faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the hard-line faction led by Geelani is deep rooted. The common Kashmiri confirms APHC is not their sole representative. The Valley is too ego-centric and a divided house. All regions must be consulted. Ladakh and Jammu region feel neglected by the Centre because they are not invited for talks.

j. The earthquake of 8 October 2005 was a calamity of nature and brought a lot of suffering in the affected areas. Rescue and relief was fast and well organised. In Jammu region this is not a point of discussion anymore.

k. The Kashmiris appreciate the steps taken by India and Pakistan to enhance intra-Kashmiri contacts especially the decision to open crossing points on the LoC. These are important steps towards boosting the peace process, though they realise differences over crucial issues continue to characterise the relations between India and Pakistan. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is in close contact with Musharraf. The latest proposals of President Musharraf regarding joint management, self-rule and demilitarisation are too vague and adding to the confusion. There is scepticism regarding the sincerity of Musharraf: he is only bringing slogans but his policy doesn’t change. He doesn’t take action against the terrorist. First there must be de-militant-isation. Only de-militant-isation can be followed by de-militar-isation. It is felt Musharraf is befooling India.

l. Regarding a solution nobody knows anymore where to go. There are too many proposals, there are contradictions. The declarations and proposals of Musharraf are not at all binding as they don’t have a democratic backing. In addition, Musharraf is not consistent in his declarations: depending on the audience he gives diametric opposed declarations. The process is passing through a confusing stage. In J&K State, the mainstream parties are divided regarding the way to go: NC wants autonomy, PDP wants self-rule, demilitarisation and revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Congress wants violence to stop and the peace process to continue.

m. J&K is divided in different parts and under the rule of three countries:
(1) China: Aksai Chin and the territory of 5.180 km2 ceded by Pakistan to China;
(2) India: Jammu region, the Kashmir-Valley and Ladakh;
(3) Pakistan: Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan).

n. The population of the various regions is totally different (culture, tradition, language, religion, etc.) from each other. Kashmiris want the Kashmir Pandits to return to the Valley, but this is only possible if their safety can be guaranteed. This remains a huge problem and in between so many Pandit families are living in camps in inhuman conditions outside the Valley without any prospects of a solution for their problem. The fate of the Kashmir Pandits is more than ever uncertain.

o. The relations between India and Pakistan are improving, there is no deadlock but the process is very slow. A dialogue is necessary on three levels: bilateral, national and internal. The peace process has to continue on these three levels;

p. The cry for the right of self-determination by some parties in the Valley is supported by Pakistan, with this limitation that accession to Pakistan is the only option. The Azad J&K, Interim Constitution Act, 1974, Par 7. (2) reads: “No person or political party in Azad J&K shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan”. This same cry for the right of self-determination is heard in the other regions of J&K, also in the areas under Pakistani administration, but without limitations: all options should be open such as accession to India, accession to Pakistan, Azadi (= freedom), total independence, partition, etc.;

q. As stated in previous reports, Pakistan has no stand in J&K. Pakistan invaded J&K and is at the origin of the de facto partitioning of the State. As early as 13 August 1948 the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan requested Pakistan to withdraw its troops from the State as a pre-condition for organising the plebiscite. This request was repeated by the same Commission in its resolution of 5 January 1949: “A plebiscite will be held when it shall be found by the Commission that the cease-fire and truce arrangements set forth in Part I and II (= the withdrawal by Pakistan of its troops from the State) of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948 have been carried out and arrangements for the plebiscite have been completed”. Until this date Pakistan has not withdrawn its forces.

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