‘A settlement will give the people of J&K an opportunity to seek a future’

Excerpts from a speech by Satinder K. Lambah, special envoy of the prime minister, at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar on May 13

Written by Satinder K Lambah | Updated: May 14, 2014 8:15 am
The settlement will relieve Pakistan from a debilitating military competition with a much larger neighbour that has drained its economy. The settlement will relieve Pakistan from a debilitating military competition with a much larger neighbour that has drained its economy.

By: Satinder K. Lambah

India’s position on Jammu & Kashmir is legally, politically and historically correct. Yet, it has remained one of our major post-independence problems, contributing to three wars between India and Pakistan, decades of cross-border terrorism and violence, and incalculable sufferings for the ordinary people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Therefore, successive prime ministers of India have made resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue a priority. Prime Minister Nehru’s initiatives culminated in the inconclusive Swaran Singh-Bhutto Talks in the early 1960s. Indira Gandhi’s efforts to seek a settlement through the Simla Agreement reflected recognition, even in the moment of decisive victory in the 1971 war, that a solution to the Kashmir issue was important for lasting peace and security. In a generational shift, Rajiv Gandhi tried to chart a new course with Benazir Bhutto. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bold attempt to reset the relations in 1999 took place months after the nuclear tests by both the countries; his bus journey to Lahore highlighted the proximity between our two countries and the centrality of people to this relationship. Kargil did not dissuade him to engage its perpetrator in Agra, nor did the Parliament attack of December 2001 stop him from making another journey to Pakistan in January 2004 in search of peace and settlement.

Manmohan Singh picked up the baton and turned it into one of his foreign policy priorities. His vision is rooted in India’s security, economic development and global aspirations, and in the transformation of a region that is central to India’s destiny.

At the highest level of the government, there has always been interest, readiness and resolve. Let me venture to make some suggestions of a possible outline of a solution in my personal capacity.

…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;

Alongside, in accordance with the normal acceptable behaviour between nations, it is imperative that the people of Jammu & Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control should be able to move freely from one side to the other.

The process of progressive removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers in specified locally produced goods already underway has to be expedited to ensure meaningful trade between the two sides of the LoC;

The essential prerequisite is that there has to be an end to hostility, violence and terrorism; once this happens, it would be important that military forces on both sides of the LoC are kept to the minimum, particularly in populated areas;

It would be important to ensure self-governance for internal management in all areas on the same basis on both sides of the LoC;

There has to be respect for human rights on both sides of the LoC and efforts need to be made to reintegrate into society those sections who had been involved in violent militant activities; and

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his speech in Amritsar on March 24, 2006 has stated that he “envisaged a situation where the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir can…work out a cooperative, consultative mechanism so as to maximise the gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region.” It should be possible to do so to enable it to look into socio-economic issues like tourism, travel, pilgrimages to shrines, trade, health, education, and culture.

A settlement will give the people of J&K an opportunity to seek a future defined by the bright light of hope, not darkened by the shadow of the gun… 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 the rapidly emerging long term geopolitical challenges.

It will relieve Pakistan from a debilitating military competition with a much larger neighbour that has drained its economy. It will hopefully strengthen its ability to turn the tide on terrorism and radical militancy. Needless to say, a stable Pakistan is also in India’s interest.

We are undergoing enormous transformation in a world witnessing change and transition on an unprecedented scale. A stable, peaceful, cooperative and connected neighbourhood is essential for us to realise our destiny. Solution of the Kashmir issue will help us on that path.

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  1. A
    abdul
    May 14, 2014 at 4:11 am
    1. If freedom of movement between borders is allowed how will you ensure that infiltration does not take place ? or that people do not cross the border just for terror training ?2. The trade barriers are more on the side than ours.3. If in the last 65 yrs s have not stopped terrorism against India very unlikely that they will do so now.4. Who will ensure that s respect the LOC once you reduce the Army on the borders ? Considering the fact that Indian offer for talks is viewed as a sign of weakness and is always followed by an attack.5. Who will ensure the human rights for the Kashmiri Brahmins ? made to live as refugees within their own country ?6. It was not India which led s into the arms race. s had the nuke years before India, tested in China and proliferated to whichever country that could afford itdian 'test' just forced them to 'show' their hand.
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      Leo Frank
      May 14, 2014 at 7:41 am
      Gifting PoK to stan will only embolden it to ask for more & more. How can person like Satinder Lambah be ignorant of the 'G Mughal Caliphate' dream of stan? Illegal Banlgadeshi immigration and illegal stani infiltration are all part of the g design. The fact is that this g design also encompes areas from J&K to West Bengal including UP-Bihar-am along with a large part of Chinese territory as well. It would be prudent for our policy & decision makers to embark upon a realist line of thought and espouse pragmatic solutions. The past 10 years of UPA mismanagement has only generated knee-jerk reactions to Paksitani depredations & Chinese aggression. Nothing material has been achieved by the UPA till date.
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        Thirumagal
        May 14, 2014 at 6:29 am
        Well said. All these "motherhood and apple pie" do not work - Kargil has not taught anything to us. Yes, we need a lasting peace and we should be open to discussion but from a position of strength and not while stan wags China and USA in our face.
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          Abdul Qayoom
          May 14, 2014 at 11:39 am
          Who is at loss at bigger loss and biggest loss guess who
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            S T
            May 14, 2014 at 8:48 am
            You hit the nail in the head Abdul. Absolutely succinct. Hope the future government will take all such possibilities into consideration before taking any so-called Friendship measures with the swore enemy.
            Reply
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