A model based on the European Union, whereby borders are made irrelevant but not altered, could solve the vexed Kashmir issue, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt Gen (retired) SK Sinha has suggested.
Maintaining that differences with Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC) are "narrowing", Sinha backed the European Union model for solving the issue and said this could provide a "win-win" situation for all -- India, Pakistan and people of all regions of the state. Besides, it would help people of Southeast Asia to fight unitedly against poverty, ignorance and disease.
He said this while delivering the Admiral Katari Memorial lecture on "Secessionist Threats to India" here on Monday night, which was attended, among others, by Army Chief Gen JJ Singh, naval chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and members of the diplomatic corps.
"We are committed to borders not being changed but are agreeable to the LoC being made irrelevant.
Let the LoC be converted into a line of peace and prosperity, with free movement and trade from either side," Sinha said.
Referring to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's self-rule proposal, Sinha expressed surprise that the suggestion came from a person who derailed democracy in his country, throttled it in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and totally denied it in the Northern Areas.
He said the proposal for joint rule or joint management was only an effort by Pakistan to get a foothold in Kashmir after it failed to do so through terrorists.
Sinha said the best example of democracy in Kashmir can be gauged by the fact that separatists were allowed to preach sedition openly and even provided medical treatment at the expense of Indian tax payers.
Commenting on secessionist activities in the country, Sinha said India had been successful in tackling such activities, including the linguistic secessionist activities in Tamil Nadu, tribal secessionist activities in Mizoram and the religious secessionist movement in Punjab.
"Secessionism in the two states of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir continue to be a grave concern.
We must effectively deal with the illegal migration problem in Assam," Sinha said, advocating the need to cash in on the changing mindset of people of this northeastern state to wipe out militancy.
Sinha, who served as governor to Assam before moving to his present assignment, said, "As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, we are moving in the right direction.
We must step up our efforts to bring about a mind change among the people and find a solution which is not only valley-centric but Jammu and Kashmir-centric."
He exuded confidence that notwithstanding various "hitches and hurls in the way of finding a final solution to the vexed Kashmir problem, a solution will emerge in due course".
Describing the Kashmir problem as "very complicated and complex one", Sinha said, "Kashmir is one of the hot spots of the world, more so, after India and Pakistan became nuclear weapon powers."
Referring to wars with Pakistan including the recent Kargil conflict, Sinha had some advice for the media.
"Militarily, we have done well in the wars against Pakistan, but on the publicity front, both internationally and within Kashmir, we have not been doing too well."