PDP asserts itself with Self-Rule formula
As the dialogue process to solve the Kashmir problem gains some momentum, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), main opposition party in the state, on Sunday unrolled ‘self-rule formula’ with constitutional and geographical details. Peerzada Ashiq reports.india Updated: Nov 01, 2009 17:05 IST
As the dialogue process to solve the Kashmir problem gains some momentum, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), main opposition party in the state, on Sunday unrolled ‘self-rule formula’ with constitutional and geographical details.
In a largely-attended civil society-PDP meet held on the outskirts of Srinagar’s Nowgan area, the formula was not elaborated upon by one party leader but three -- PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, senior leader and legal expert Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and the party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. The formula was thrown open to criticism and appreciation of noted legal luminary and well-known columnist A.G. Noorani.
The reason that the party chose three speakers to divulge details was to address three different constituencies -- separatist sentiments were handled by Mehboobai, legal position was defined by Beigh and unionist and reconciliatory position was handled by Sayeed himself.
“Self rule may not be the final word but it’s a way forward on the Kashmir problem,” said Mehbooba as she started to unravel the formula. “Given our diversity – cultural, historical and even seasonal – we are a country in itself. This state was centrally located with routes to China, Central Asia and Mansorovar but unfortunately we are living in a siege – metal, physival and economical.”
She said the self-rule formula is a tribute to “martyrs who laid down their loves for Kashmir.” “To me independence and freedom are similar. When we don’t have any resource with us how can we talk of azzadi. If the Indus water Treaty is revoked, the profit earned could have helped our state to lend out loans to other states.”
In her high-pitch speech, she asked New Delhi if India and Pakistan can have joint terror mechanism why can’t two parts of Jammu and Kashmir have joint mechanism. “Not to discuss terror but development, trade,” she added.
She claimed the formula will have impact on the common man’s lives in Kashmir and on the future of the state.
While elaborating on details of geographical lengths being “occupied by India, Pakistan and China”, Baigh said no solution of the Kashmir problem is possible by India and Pakistan alone, unless people on both countries and both sides of Jammu and Kashmir reach a consensus. “But I must tell you 100 per cent agreement may not be possible,” he added.
He asked New Delhi to rollback constitutional Articles related to president’s rule, Indian administrative services operating in Kashmir and describing Article 370 as special provision rather than temporary.
Baigh asked India, Pakistan and Kashmir to accept new geographical realities of the state. “Nobody can change borders now. If Pakistan thinks it can wrest Kashmir through militancy it cannot, so cannot India through military might…India has to reconfigure its map on Kashmir and Kashmir has to exclude Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Northern Areas from the map.”
Baig, former state deputy chief minister, said India and Pakistan should enter into a treaty and amend their constitutions to change their claim on Jammu and Kashmir.
“If India thinks polls will end problem here it cannot. Till a resolution is reached, neither India nor Pakistan can live in peace,” said the PDP leader. “When an army jawan stops a Kashmiri in places like Gulmarg, elections, system and freedom of religion and profession becomes irrelevant. This act of army jawan gives Kashmiri a sense of slavery.”
The concluding remark on the formula was made by former chief minister and former Union Home minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. “I think India is a thriving and living democracy. And things are possible within its constitution…It’s people will which will force a change in attitudes of countries not gun.”
Mufti also pointed out what he calls “credibility gap” between Kashmir and New Delhi. “If the Home Minister says in favour of demilitarization, senior amry officers say no way…there are some hawks within the country who want this to continue.”
Supporting the formula of the PDP, Frontline columnist A.G.Noorani said this is the best possible and practical solution. “Kashmiris have been cheated repeatedly in the past.
Noorani supported any resolution held on four broad modalities – demilitarization, self-governance, economic free zone and joint mechanism.
“I think Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is very serious and honest about the Kashmir problem. He has already talked about making borders irrelevant…but my sympathies lies with Kashmir as both India and Pakistan have behaved like imperialists.”
He asked Kashmiris to give their input within the four broad modalities. “Don’t allow India and Pakistan to monopolise the discourse. Give your input too,” said Noorani, who claimed Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too is greater autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir with special arrangements between the different regions of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir.