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Mufti wants status quo at LoC; vouches for porous border

He wants to make the economic integration and the people to people contact as the first step for the Kashmir solution, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 16:03 IST
Arun Joshi

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has said that there was "no need to negate significance of Line of Control" while working out a step by step approach for Kashmir solution which would accommodate the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir without offering any challenge to the sovereign status of India and Pakistan in the Himalayan region.

Mufti Sayeed has offered an outline of his solution of Kashmir crisis in which the status of the LoC stays but offers a free movement of people and economic integration.

He wants to make the economic integration and the people to people contact as the first steps in meeting the challenge of working of Kashmir solution, under his much publicised Self Rule formula.

Speaking at a seminar on Kashmir - The Way Ahead jointly organised by two prominent US think tanks, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Stimson Centre, in Washington on Tuesday evening.

He said, "There is no need to negate the significance of the LoC but it is imperative to negate its acquired and imputed manifestation of state competition for power, prestige, or an imagined historical identity."

He said that the idea is to retain the former and change the latter. Therein, he said, lies the key to the solution of Jammu and Kashmir problem.

"Even as political significance of Jammu and Kashmir is paramount for both India and Pakistan, economic links between India and J&K and Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir are limited," he said adding that the political significance of two parts of Kashmir to their respective mainlands is disproportionate to their economic significance.

"Our basic premise is that the time has come to work out some form of integration and move forward," Sayeed said adding, that even though the integration design may appear to be constitutionally and legally incomplete and politically premature, a start has to be made simply because the cost of not doing it will be much higher than the cost of implementing it.

"It is not necessary to work out a full architecture of integration, it has to start with some critical steps," he said and proposed step-by-step movement, taking the path of least resistance and building confidence to reach-out a resolution designed with a broad end-result.

The idea, Sayeed said is to use the economic domain to initiate and catalyse, but not substitute or replace the political process of resolution.

Sayeed said that for a sustainable solution of the problem, innovative institutional arrangement having political, economic and security character is to be put into place.

"The basic premise of the Self Rule formula is that while exploring a solution of the Kashmir issue, we have to look out for inter nation-state institutional mechanism that preserves sovereignty of the two nation-states (India and Pakistan) but still has a supranational basis," he said adding, such an arrangement is possible only by giving the institutional mechanism an economic basis.

Sayeed said, "The problem is that the heterogeneity of views from within Jammu and Kashmir has become an easy excuse for their exclusion."

Sayeed said the major breakthrough in the recent past has been the engagement of J&K's civil society and various sections of the society in the peace and reconciliation process through the Prime Minister's Round Table Conferences and the Working Groups.

The PDP patron said it is now a well-accepted fact that the peace process in the sub-continent is irreversible.

"It may move in fits and starts, but the direction is clear," he said.

Sayeed said that there have been growing local stake in the peace process."

The PDP patron said the challenge in J&K is to economically integrate the region without disturbing the extant sovereign authority over delimited territorial space.

First Published: Nov 15, 2006 16:03 IST