To build confidence

Published : Aug 01, 2003 00:00 IST

A four-point formula that would enable substantive negotiations leading to a settlement of the problems in Jammu and Kashmir.

WITH distinct signs of a thaw in the long-frozen relationship between India and Pakistan, the people of the subcontinent, especially Jammu and Kashmir, have heaved a sigh of relief. They hope that the windows of dialogue and doors of diplomacy may open after a long, dark period of tumult and tragedy. Undoubtedly, the swing from futile hostility to an upsurge of expectations in both the countries reflects an undercurrent of a longing for peace and cooperation at the ground level. The need of the hour is to grab the opportunity and sustain the momentum.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) came out with a four-point formula as early as January 9, 2001, delineating the confidence-building measures required to open up fresh space for substantive negotiations, leading to the settlement of issues. These suggestions have not lost much of their relevance even at this point of time. They are:

1. The Government of Pakistan, which seems to have shown an interest in the current ceasefire, should come forward to

* Effectively use its authority and influence in persuading the armed groups operating from its soil to desist from violent activities;

* Release all political prisoners and ensure democratic rights in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, including the northern areas.

2. The Government of India should, while making the ceasefire a permanent feature, gradually reduce the size of security forces involved in internal security duty and initiate measures to

i) Provide fair and prompt trial to all detenus languishing in various prisons and release all those against whom no evidence has been found during the trial;

ii) Provide substantive relief to the victims of violence, irrespective of their affiliations;

iii) Facilitate the return of youth who want to lead peaceful lives to their homes from the other side of Line of Control (LoC).

3. Both the governments should create conditions that would enable people living on both sides of the LoC to meet each other. Suitable mechanism for easy travel has to be evolved. Besides this, the exchange of cultural groups and teams between people living on either side of the LoC should be encouraged and ensured.

4. All political parties/groups, particularly the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and such other platforms, should

* Initiate effective steps for the dignified return of migrants, particularly Pandits;

* Raise their voice against the killing of innocents, the unarmed, the uninvolved and political activists of all shades.

In the context of the fresh initiatives taken by the two governments, there is an imperative need to reconsider seriously these suggestions. This, however, is not to lose sight of the new experiences gained during the interregnum.

Humanity is in deep crises today not only in Jammu and Kashmir but in the entire subcontinent. All-pervading violence in the State has torn apart its social fabric; men and women have lost their dignity and children their innocence. Lakhs of youth are deprived of gainful employment and the local economy is in a state of ruin. There has been an erosion of values, and an air of degeneration is catching up. To deliver ourselves from this morass, the leadership in the subcontinent, including Jammu and Kashmir, has to move beyond symbolisms and stated positions and help create a movement of peace and reconciliation. Such a movement should have the inherent potential to bring the peoples of the subcontinent closer. For this we need to be sensitive to the needs and urges of the people, their present and future. In Jammu and Kashmir, all the political parties, groups and outfits, representing diverse shades of opinion, need to play a useful and helpful role in order to move forward. In fact, an autonomous voice must emerge from Jammu and Kashmir, rising above partisan and divisive considerations. Undoubtedly, unity is the best guarantee of the strength, security and bright future of the multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-regional State. Any effort to bifurcate or trifurcate the State is a sure recipe for disaster.

The path of dialogue, peace and friendship can be painstaking, time-consuming and beset with ups and downs. But there is no need to be disappointed because there is no royal road to success other than that of debate and discussion. Wisdom and statesmanship lie in consistently and patiently following the course of negotiated settlement of issues amidst challenges, howsoever formidable.

There can be no readymade formula, which can be used to find a solution to the issues. The solution has to emerge out of a process and not presented as a readymade proposition. The following measures need to be taken in order that the process is taken forward:

i) Rapid restoration of the relations between the two countries, as they existed prior to December 13, 2001, and renewal of the process initiated at the Agra summit.

ii) Both governments should take confidence-building measures in order to create an atmosphere conducive to the resolution of issues. For this, concrete steps will have to be taken, to foster economic cooperation, cultural exchange and people-to-people contacts.

iii) Both governments should take initiatives to arrive at a ceasefire between the Indian security forces and the Pakistan-supported armed groups and to set up a meaningful monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the ceasefire.

iv) Constitution of an independent commission enjoying the complete trust and credibility of the civil society in Jammu and Kashmir to

* Conduct an inquiry into the truth of the manner and method employed, the motivations and causes behind the thousands of killings and atrocities committed in the State during the last 14 years;

* Identify the campaigns, agencies, instrumentalities and individuals responsible for such killings and atrocities;

* Suggest appropriate punishment to the guilty and pay compensation to the survivors.

v) Ensure improved respect for human rights of all people living on either side of the LoC.

vi) Revitalisation of the ruined economy and reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure of the State. The Union government, with the cooperation of the State government, should take up the primary responsibility of absorbing the unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mohd. Yousuf Tarigami is Member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

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