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Kashmiri groups question LoC sanctity

The campaign challenging the sanctity of the line that divides the two parts of J&K comes ahead of resumption of Indo-Pak talks, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 13:12 IST
Arun Joshi

Ahead of the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue at foreign secretary level in New Delhi early next week, Kashmiri think tanks in US have ratcheted up their campaign challenging the sanctity of the Line of Control that divides the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir, a persistent theme of Pakistan for resolving the Kashmir issue.

This is also to pick holes in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertion on November 17, 2004 in Srinagar and repeated thereafter quite often that "there would be no redrawing of boundaries on religious or regional lines in Jammu and Kashmir".

Singh had told a crowded press conference in Srinagar two years ago that "there will be no further partition", in response to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's suggestion that Jammu and Kashmir be divided into seven regions for finding a solution to the Kashmir issue.

At the time when Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan is visiting Delhi to hold talks with his Indian counterpart, a campaign appears to have been orchestrated at the international level to challenge the sanctity of the LoC.

The term 'sanctity of the LoC' was used by then American president Bill Clinton while asking Pakistan to respect sanctity of LoC during the Kargil War in the summers of 1999.

Pakistan was asked to vacate the trans-Himalayan heights, which its soldiers had occupied in the winters of 1998-99, a fact that President Musharraf has confirmed in his book In the Line of Fire.

Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Centre executive director Ghulam Nabi Fai, while speaking on the topic 'Peace in Kashmir' at Rutgers University, New Jersey, on Thursday decried the international focus on defusing tensions in Jammu and Kashmir instead of working to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Fai, who is the unofficial spokesman of Pakistan's line on Kashmir in the United States and a globetrotter, is always active whenever steps are taken by India and Pakistan to ease tensions.

"There is an indication of misplaced focus in the wrong-headed talk about the 'sanctity' of the line of control in Kashmir. It is forgotten that this line continues to exist only because the international agreement which had been concluded between India and Pakistan, with the full support of the United States," he said.

"This line was originally formalised by that agreement as a temporary ceasefire line pending the demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir and the holding of a plebiscite to determine its future," he referred to the UN resolutions.

He has used the term 'demilitarisation' selectively as the resolution clearly asked Pakistani troops to move out of the state territory, not India. India was authorised to keep its troops to maintain the law and order and security of the region.

Arguing against the status quo - a permanent campaign line of Islamabad vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir, which has been articulated by Pervez Musharraf - Fai said, "As long as it will remain clamped down on the state, it will continue to impose a heavy toll of death on the people of the land."

"They have had no hand in creating a line which has cut through their homes, separated families and, what is worse, served as a protecting wall for massive violations of human rights. They are not resigned to its becoming some kind of a border. To treat this line overtly or otherwise as a basis for the partition of the state is to reward obduracy, countenance iniquity, encourage tyranny and oppression and destroy the hopes for peace in accordance with justice and rationality in Kashmir. Any kind of agreement procured to that end will not only endure but will invite resentment and revolt against whichever leadership in Kashmir sponsors or subscribes to it."

National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah is votary of making the LoC as permanent but open borders between the two parts of the Himalayan state, and his view is now acknowledged in all the Indian thinking.