On the face of it, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s latest proposal for joint management in Kashmir — with demilitarisation and self-governance — lacks credibility. Precious little has been done by Islamabad in PoK and the Northern Areas under its control to lend political and diplomatic force to the ‘resolution framework’ for which it is seeking India’s endorsement.
“Demilitarise Kashmir, give self governance to its people with a joint management arrangement on top,” reports from Islamabad quoted Musharraf as having told CNBC. “We could debate and modify the idea… for final settlement of the dispute,” he continued. “It is for the people of Kashmir now to generate the kind of ideas and pressure on the Indian government for some form of a resolution.”
In bilateral engagements and back channel talks, Pakistani interlocutors have been alluding to ‘joint sovereignty’. But it’s for the first time that Musharraf has publicly mooted ‘joint management’.
From the Indian standpoint, the proposal is way removed from Manmohan Singh’s perception of a step-by-step approach, including establishment of “cooperative, consultative mechanisms” between the two sides of Kashmir to “solve problems of social and economic development of the region”. In fact, Singh’s underlying message for Musharraf in his March 24 speech in Amritsar was against pushing for joint control— or management. His call essentially was for developing mechanisms, in consultation with people on either side, to improve their lives.
“If the Pak President is seeking joint sovereignty, it’s out of the question,” a top MEA official told HT. Short of that, New Delhi is willing to set up cross-LoC joint mechanisms on issues — such as health, water management, environment protection and tourism — discussed within the rubric of the India-Pak Joint Commission.
In a way, the official pointed out, Musharraf has again sought to shift focus to the Indian side of the LoC, disregarding the ground situation on the Pakistani side of the state. His renewed pitch for self-governance comes at a time when individuals and parties are being eliminated from the political process in PoK for refusing to endorse the State’s accession to Pakistan. “Is this self-governance?” the official asked.