New Caretaker Government of Pakistan: Was Jalil Abbas Jilani misquoted

August 19, 2023 (tarkeen e watan) : It is reported that, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani, new foreign minister of Pakistan told The Express Tribune on August 17, 2023, that’ improvement in relations with India was contingent upon the resolution of all outstanding issues, including the long-standing issue of Jammu and Kashmir. But his public position aside, the sources said, Jilani was of the view that Pakistan should explore different options paving the way for resurrecting the peace process during Musharraf-Manmohan time.’ I hope and pray that Ambassador Jilani, a seasoned diplomat and truly a well-wisher and great friend of the people of Kashmir was deliberately misquoted.
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India is not pretending. It has not raised the issue of Kashmir and does not intend to raise it at any international forum. There’s been no change in its stance on Kashmir – that Kashmir is frankly not in dispute and not up for discussion. Otherwise, why lock up the pro-resistance leaders? Why to have 900,00 miliary and paramilitary forces stationed in the Valley of Kashmir?

There have been numerous attempts, certainly, in the past to present proposals for resolving Kashmir dispute, but none has seemed to take hold. The revival now of Musharraf’s Four Point Formula which was widely discussed in 2006 has again been raised as a solution that offers the most promise of hope to those who have grown weary of the struggle and are willing to accept serious compromises in the interest of alleviating some suffering. Let there be no doubt that Musharraf’s four-point Formula does not want to resolve the Kashmir dispute but to dissolve it.

General Musharraf’s Four-point formula involves the following:

  1. Demilitarization or phased withdrawal of troops
  2. There will be no change of borders of Kashmir. However, people of Jammu & Kashmir will be allowed to move freely across the Line of Control.
  3. Self-governance without independence
  4. A joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Let us analyze these four points.

Demilitarization is an option that was suggested by the United Nations and in particular by Sir Owen Dixon of Australia. This has been the demand of the leadership of the Kashmiri resistance that demilitarization from both sides of the Ceasefire Line will pave the way for a serious and thoughtful solution to the Kashmir dispute.

Yes, the Line of Control is in fact a line of conflict which needs to be eroded so that the people of Kashmir can move freely from one area to the other. But the problem arises when the ‘Four-point Formula’ says that borders cannot be withdrawn. That is a very loaded phrase. That means that the Line of Control should in fact be established permanently as an international border. Such an option is an insult to the intelligence of the Kashmiri people.

Self-governance undoubtedly has broad meaning. Self-governance means freedom, independence, and autonomy. It means that the people would be makers of their destiny. It also means that one has to be the shaper of one’s future. So, the term self-governance by itself is not an issue but the concept of self-governance within the parameters of Four-point Formula is. It is problematic because under this plan, self-governance excludes the option of freedom or independence. In fact, it clearly says that the people of Kashmir will be given self-governance without independence. Will India retain the power to tax the Kashmiris? Will people have a hand in the politics and influence who has the mandate to rule? Will they pass new laws which infringe on the limited self-rule the Kashmiris possess? Where does self-rule begin and where does it end, if Kashmir does not possess sovereignty over its land?

The drafters of the four-point formula have been quite conscious of the sentiments of the people of Kashmir. They knew that the resistance to foreign occupation that began in 1931 and continues until now does not accept de-facto rule by any country over Kashmir. Therefore, they wanted to play a linguistic game and came up with the idea of self-governance which is a deceptive and misleading term that gives an appearance of sovereignty without any substance. It is purely a mask. It prohibits further discussion on the subject of independence and promotes internalization of the Kashmir dispute. Without actual sovereignty for Kashmir, under the Four-point formula, the people of Kashmir will have to accept the supremacy and rule of India over their lives, and the possibility of that being eroded by whatever whim, fancy or circumstance may intervene in the future. Perhaps self-governance now, designed and managed by external powers, which is subject to the will of those foreign powers without due respect for the sovereignty of Kashmir and all the international protections that accompany it, has the appearance of a step in the right direction but on an extremely slippery slope. Self-governance is a mere illusion: what is given can be taken away, when it does not in fact include true sovereignty. Have we forgotten the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A?

Those who believe that the people of Kashmir should accept the Musharraf’s Four-point formula should be bold enough to say exactly what it is i.e., that the formula gives the people of Kashmir only choice and that is to be part of India. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Famed jurist and author, A. G. Noorani is correct when he said on November 2, 2009 (The Hindu), “The solution (of Kashmir) should be such that a Kashmiri leader could announce it in Lal Chowk.” I totally agree with Mr. Noorani. If a person genuinely believes that the Four Point formula is the only way out, let him announce in Lal Chowk (Times Square of Srinagar) that this form of self-governance is not what we were striving for. Self-governance is neither freedom nor independence. Self-governance is the declaration that Azad Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir that of India. Let there be a referendum and the people of Kashmir should get a chance to decide. If they vote in favor of the formula that verdict must be final and acceptable to all.

Agha Shahi, one of the most recognizable diplomats of South Asia wrote in his letter to me on November 8, 2004, “Reversion to our principled stand need not be impediment to improvement of relations with India to the extent possible, short of full normalization. We have lived with such a situation for decades (1972-1999) and can live with it in the hope of a change on the geopolitical landscape. At least the present status quo does not call for the sacrifice of our vital interests.”

However, I still believe that in order to reach an imaginative settlement of the Kashmir dispute, all parties concerned – Governments of India & Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Kashmir – will have to show flexibility. But in the Four-point formula the only party which becomes a sacrificial lamb and shows flexibility and makes sacrifice are the people of Kashmir. That should not be an option. The demand for self-determination is greater now than it has been in many years. It’s time for all parties to recognize the realities on the ground.

The United Nations still has the ability to persuade both India and Pakistan to resolve the conflict once for all. It must also find the will to do so. If that happens, peace and stability will be guaranteed not only in Kashmir but in the region of South Asia – home to one fifth of total human race.

Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness.
He can be reached at: WhatsApp: 1-202-607-6435 or gnfai2003@yahoo.com
www.kashmirawareness.org

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