Former Indian diplomat and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy for Pakistan, S K Lambah Tuesday said India and Pakistan will have to look for ideas that are “practical, workable and acceptable” to resolve the Kashmir issue and redrawing borders is not one of them.
“In view of past history, emotions, disagreements, violence, wars and failure of negotiations, it is not easy to specify the outlines of a solution. However, as the past six decades have clearly shown, the Kashmir issue can’t be settled by war, force or violence,” Lambah said at a seminar organised by the Kashmir University’s Institute of Kashmir Studies. “A solution will also remain elusive, if we keep harping on positions that have failed to resolve the problem in the past.”
“After three wars and long periods of disagreements, it is essential that any agreement must ensure that the Line of Control is like a border between any two normal states. There can be no redrawal of borders,” he said.
“That is why we have to look for ideas that are practical, workable and acceptable. We can also learn some useful lessons from the Shimla agreement and Lahore Declaration,” he added.
While rejecting the idea of redrawing borders, Lambah advocated free movement and trade across the Line of Control, end to violence, reduction of troops and self-governance for internal management on both sides of the LoC.
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Pushing for a solution to the Kashmir problem, Lambah said it would help India focus more on “rapidly emerging long-term geopolitical challenges”.
“It is true that the Kashmir problem has not stopped India from forging its destiny as a secular, pluralist democracy and one of the world’s major economies and a military power. However, a solution of the Kashmir issue will substantially enhance India’s security, strengthen the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region and enable India to focus more on rapidly emerging long-term geopolitical challenges,” he said. “It will herald a new era of peace and prosperity for the entire region.”
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Lambah’s position was a “marked departure from New Delhi’s stated position” on Kashmir. But he added that the dialogue process between India and Pakistan would face a “challenge” if the BJP’s Narendra Modi becomes prime minister after May 16.
“We have seen a strengthening of back-channel dialogue process with the change of administration from Musharraf government to Nawaz Sharif government (sic),” Abdullah said. “Now the challenge for this process is what happens post May 16.
Assuming the worst case scenario and you have a Narendra Modi-led government with an almost brutal majority of his own in parliament. To what extent does he convert his stated policy on Pakistan to his actual policy?
“Because, if his stated policy is going to be converted into official policy, then this dialogue process is going to die a very swift and very unlamented death in the corridors of power in Delhi and the only ones who will lament it would be those of us who stand to get benefited from anything that this dialogue process produces.”