The peaceful solution of Kashmir lies in a “give and take” formula

Pakistan today said that the reports in American media that military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf is considering to put forward a proposal to grant some degree of autonomy to Kashmir during the coming Indo-Pak summit was an idea floated by the US Administration and was not the stand of Islamabad.

Reacting to yesterday’s Washington Times report stating that Pakistan may propose an autonomy formula during the proposed Musharraf-Vajpayee summit, Pakistan’s Defence spokesman Maj. Gen. Rashid Querishi told PTI that the autonomy idea essentially appeared to be that of the US Government.

“It appears that the newspaper is quoting the US sources. This is not the position of the Government of Pakistan and I am not aware of such an idea being discussed at any level of our Government,” Maj. Gen. Querishi, also press advisor to Gen. Musharraf, said. To a question whether Pakistan favoured such an idea, he said, “Our point of view is that the start of a new peace process will be the first step towards peaceful resolution of the long-standing problem.

During the Musharraf-Vajpayee talks, these and many other proposals are likely to be considered by the concerned parties. Several proposals have been made by various groups in recent years.

The ideal solution would be to hold a plebiscite in the entire state, including the Indian and the Pakistani sides, under U.N. supervision as promised in the UN resolutions of 13 August 1948, 5 January 1951, and 24 January 1957. Since the outcome of such a vote is obvious, India has avoided it under one excuse or the other all these years.

India would be happy to maintain the status quo and retain the LoC as a permanent border, with the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh merging with mainland India, and Pakistan keeping what is now known as Azad Kashmir. Pakistan has always rejected this proposal.

US now wants a third option to Indian or Pakistani control, an option that is not contained in the original U.N. resolution: to remain “independent.” While such a possibility has been discussed during the unofficial India-Pakistan “track 2” talks, however, the proposal does not have backing of majority of Kashmiri people.

Another proposal that has been floated is to hold separate polls in Azad Kashmir, the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh to ascertain the views of the different parts of Kashmir. This is a plan whereby Jammu and Ladakh would revert to India, and the Valley to Pakistan. This has been vigorously opposed by Kashmir’s Muslims, who are the overall majority in the state.

Still another proposal from some circles is for Jammu and Ladakh to join India, with Pakistan keeping the Azad Kashmir area. The Valley would be accorded an independent status.

Obviously, each scenario has its difficulties. But the solution of Kashmir lies in a “give and take” formula. The people and leaders of both countries should be realistic and be ready for the ‘compromises’ for the sake of long lasting peace in the region.

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