Written submission made to the State Department by delegation of JKLF UK & Europe in a meeting held on 17th June 2003 in Washington DC.
1. Mr Abbas Butt, President of JKLF UK & Europe
2. Mr Zubair Ul Haq Ansari, Secretary General JKLF
3. Councillor Masoom Ansari, Treasurer
4. Dr Shabir Choudhry, Chairman Diplomatic Committee
It is pleasure to note that the USA:
· Is playing a proactive role in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute;
· Regards Kashmir as a disputed territory;
· Sees no role of force in resolution of the dispute;
· Agrees that religious fanaticism, extremism and communalism must be opposed;
· Emphasises a process of dialogue to find a permanent solution;
· Supports the view that the final solution must be according to aspirations of the people of Kashmir, but still
· Does not wish to assume the role of a mediator.
We appreciate the role of the USA in supporting a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute that there can be peace and stability in South Asia, but at the same time we request that America has to play some kind of role, be it behind the scenes, as overt mediation is not acceptable to India and Pakistan.
We believe the American role (be it that of a facilitator) and influence is imperative to ensure that the both India and Pakistan:
· Create environment conducive to start a process of dialogue;
· Continue the process of dialogue and do not give up as a result of some kind of serious incident which could be managed by those who don’t want peace in the region;
· Involve the people of Jammu and Kashmir in to either tripartite or triangular process of dialogue;
· Work out a mechanism based on justice and fair play to ‘elect’ a Kashmiri leadership who could help in the resolution of the dispute.
We further request that whereas both India and Pakistan have every right to resolve their bilateral issues, Kashmir dispute must not be resolved bilaterally as it is not a territorial dispute. People of Kashmir are the principal party to this long standing dispute, and they should have the final say on the future status of the State. In any case, history of bilateralism between the two proves that they have note been able to make progress; and it is also because of this that the people of Kashmir must be involved in the peace process.
State is multi religious and multi ethnic political unit
The State of Jammu and Kashmir is multi religious and multi ethnic political unit, and must remain as such where people have right to live and practice their beliefs without any fear and intimidation. Any attempt to change this character of the State could result in more problems and violence not only in Kashmir but it could spill over to India and Pakistan. So it is imperative that the State remains as a one political unit otherwise the genie of communalism will take over the events and bring more hatred and destruction in the entire region.
Issue over representation
We acknowledge practical difficulties in ascertaining the views of the Kashmiri people, and even to decide who will represent them; but it is clear that the APHC is not a representative of the Kashmiri people. They have miserably failed:
· To win trust of minorities;
· Expand in to Jammu;
· Expand in to Ladakh
· Expand in to Azad Kashmir
· Expand in to Gilgit and Baltistan and
· Even failed to win minds and hearts of the people of Valley
They had a free hand in playing a lead role in matters of the State for past 8/9 years, and to prove that they have vision and a programme for the future status of the State; and that they are well wishers of all citizens of the State, and have ability to represent people of all shades and opinion.
The history of past decade shows that they had no programme and no vision, and they were happier in promoting their personal agendas and implementing the agenda of those who were comfortably sitting outside the borders of the State. As a result we saw rise of communalism and hatred during these years which brought more destruction and very severely damaged the fabrics of Kashmiri society which took pride in its culture and practice of tolerance.
Also they have failed to talk about interest of all Kashmiri regions, especially about rights of the people of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. This proves that either they had no care for them, and perhaps did not regard them as Kashmiri regions; or they decided to remain quiet because of fear that the supply of ‘goods’ will stop from across the border.
The fact that they ‘exported’ leaders from the Valley to take posts in the so called APHC Azad Kashmir Chapter proves that it is a Valley based organisation; and its prime aim is to protect interest of the Valley. If it was a representative of all Kashmiris, and wanted to demonstrate that, then they could have asked some Kashmiri leaders in Azad Kashmir to take these positions. And if they wanted to reflect non communal character of the organisation they could have sent a non Muslim Kashmiri leader/s to Azad Kashmir to take one or more posts.
In view of this the APHC DOESNOT passes the test of representation, and must not be allowed to play with sentiments of the people. While selecting/electing the representatives of the Kashmiri people, at best, they should be allowed to accompany other leaders of the Valley who also have claim over representation in the valley.
Another point which needs to be taken in to consideration on this topic is that those Kashmiris who have already decided that their future is either with India or Pakistan DONOT need any representation on the negotiating table, because their views could be represented by respective delegations of India and Pakistan.
Apart from APHC there are other Kashmiri alliances who claim to be well wishers of the Kashmiri people, and they speak of rights of all Kashmiri regions; and above all they are non communal in character.
Use of violence
We strongly believe that violence generates more violence and this could exacerbate the situation rather than resolving it. Therefore no party to the dispute should attempt to impose a decision by use of force; or use force to achieve political gains.
We also believe that the Kashmir dispute is a political problem and not a religious one as some leaders try to project. Furthermore, although India and Pakistan are parties to the dispute because of their de-facto control of the Kashmiri territory, however the Kashmir dispute basically concerns the people of Kashmir who have to determine their future status; and because of this there is no role for non Kashmiris to be there in any form or shape.
Intra Kashmir dialogue and understanding between regions
The State of Jammu Kashmir which consists of the Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, had a proud history of tolerance and coexistence. Unfortunately fabrics of this old and rich culture of tolerance and brotherhood has been seriously damaged by forced division and segregation; and continued violence, at times targeting ethnic groups and religious sects, has resulted in misunderstandings and some kind of hatred among the Kashmiri regions and ethnic groups.
In the view of the above it is suggested that appropriate steps should be taken to rehabilitate those who have been uprooted by the trouble in the State, and opportunities are provided that people of different regions and various ethnic groups meet each other and build bridges of understanding. We therefore suggest:
· If a bus can travel from Pakistan to India, between two hostile countries, why can’t there be a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar and between Mirpur and Jammu;
· Similarly why not people of each region be allowed to travel to other regions that people could develop ties of friendship and understanding, for example, people and leaders of Azad Kashmir visit Gilgit and Baltistan and vice versa, and people and leaders of Gilgit and Baltistan doing same in Ladakh;
· Why can’t leaders of Azad Kashmir visit Srinagar and vice versa;
· If India and Pakistan, despite animosity with each other can develop trade links, then why not people of Kashmir be allowed to trade with each other.
· This process could eventually lead us to Intra Kashmir dialogue where people of Kashmir could sit down and formulate a policy about the future status of the State.
We all understand that the Kashmir dispute is not a simple one and it could not be resolved in one step, and there have to be a number of small steps leading to the final solution. It is therefore imperative that the both India and Pakistan, of course the militants and the Kashmiri people take appropriate steps to create conducive atmosphere in which a dialogue can take place. End