Four Point Formula

Print edition : November 13, 2015

Despite the Shiv Sena’s threats and blackening of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni ahead of the function to release former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book Neither a Hawk, Nor a Dove, in Mumbai on October 12, the event was held amidst tight security. Following is the condensed version of the speech eminent lawyer and columnist A.G. Noorani, who was one of the panelists at the launch, made at the function:

No single issue has so bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan, almost at their very brink in 1947, as the Kashmir dispute has. To this day, lack of realism marks the discourse on all sides. The stark reality is that there are three parties to the dispute—India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Time has failed to solve it. The need for its resolution is dire. On May 21, 2004, The Statesman published Manmohan Singh’s interview with Jonathan Power in which he lamented that Kashmir impeded India’s rise to its full stature. Short of redrawing the boundaries, he said, India could accept any solution.

As it happened by then, President [Pervez] Musharraf had also begun to air various solutions “out of the box”. When he spoke to Jonathan Power, Manmohan Singh did not know that he would become Prime Minister. When he did, he began working with quiet determination towards a Kashmir settlement.

There are three parties to the dispute. It must be acceptable to all three, which implies necessarily a compromise—a balance of dissatisfaction. But there are three limits to a settlement.

1. No Indian government can possibly accept Kashmir’s secession from the Union and survive.

2. No Pakistani government can possibly accept the LoC [Line of Control] as an international boundary and survive.

3. The Kashmiris will not acquiesce to the partition of their State or the persistent denial of self-rule and human rights.

To their lasting credit, Manmohan Singh and Musharraf devised a solution which meets all the three tests. Their Four Point Formula does not spell Kashmir’s secession; does not make the LoC an international boundary; and reunites the State de facto while granting an agreed measure of human rights for east as well as west Kashmir.

The LoC becomes a line on a map that facilitates free and easy travel to Kashmir on both sides. The State is demilitarised. Both parts of the State will receive an agreed quantum of self-rule, “azadi”. There will be a “joint mechanism” of representatives from both parts to supervise the working of the accord and consult on matters of common interest. It will have no executive powers.

To these I would add another element. An All Jammu and Kashmir Consultative Assembly comprising of MLAs on both sides which meets twice a year in Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. Defence and foreign affairs will be out of its purview. It will be a purely deliberative body.

It has been viewed with suspicion, thanks to ignorance or a vested interest in the continuance of the status quo.

But, reflect a little on the peace dividend it will yield militarily and politically. Both countries will rise in stature internationally. The people of Kashmir, who have known nothing but strife and sorrow, will live their lives in peace and happiness. These are not gains to be sniffed at.

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