Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Conflict management and conflict resolution

Conflict management and conflict resolution
Dr Shabir Choudhry 13 and 14th September 2005.

Those who think that the Kashmir dispute is simple, and is easy to resolve, they are wrong. The Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest and most complicated disputes in the world; and those who think differently either don’t understand the nature of the dispute or they deliberately try to confuse people.

These people deliberately try to link the Kashmir dispute with the Two Nations Theory, Jihad and movement of Islamic fundamentalism. Kashmiri struggle is political in nature, and has nothing to do with religion; and those who are trying to project it as a religious struggle are embittering the communal harmony, which is essential for the peace and stability of the state.

By injecting element of religion in our struggle for independence, they have seriously damaged social fabrics of the society, and have divided people on ethnic and religious lines. Their agenda seems to be quite clear, they want to divide the State on communal and religious lines; and those who believe that the state of Jammu and Kashmir must remain as one political entity have to work hard to defeat demons of communalism and hatred.

People of Jammu and Kashmir are forcibly divided for the past fifty-eight years. This forced division has resulted in differences and misunderstandings; and militancy and violence has not only brought suffering and misery, but also widened the gulf among different ethnic groups.

There are many reasons why the Kashmir dispute could not be resolved, and one such reason is that those who had the ability to resolve it had no wish to do so, because their aim has always been to control and manage the ‘crises’.

The Kashmir dispute has become a big business, and status quo suits many powerful groups. As long as the Kashmir pot is boiling, business is booming, and it is in the commercial interest of these people that the dispute is not resolved.

Net result of this strategy is that people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to bleed and suffer. This suffering has to end, as people could not be expected to continue to suffer and live in misery. We have to formulate such policies that the state of Jammu and Kashmir could be united, and the forced division could be ended.

We have to ensure that the dispute is resolved through a peace process; and that there is peace and stability not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in South Asia. But before we reach that stage this reign of terror has to end, as it is not possible to establish peace when people with gun are calling shots, and adding to the misery and suffering of the people.

I support the peace process. I acknowledge that it has made some progress, but I am not satisfied with its pace and method. Those who are pushing the agenda of peace need to understand that the Kashmir dispute is not bilateral in nature; and that All Parties Hurriyet Conference is not representative of the Kashmiri people.

Any solution negotiated either by both India and Pakistan will not be acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly any solution negotiated with APHC will not be acceptable to the majority of the Kashmiris, as people on both sides of the divide know that APHC do not represent true aspirations of the people.

In view of this it is imperative that a mechanism is worked out to widen the process of dialogue; and other leaders representing different regions and political thoughts are also accommodated. People of Jammu and Kashmir are disillusioned and they feel alienated, and in order to win their confidence, authorities have to ensure that suffering people get some relief.

One could not win the trust of the people when guns are killing innocent people; and when many innocent citizens are still languishing in jails. In order to win hearts and minds of the people on both sides of the divide, and to make them part of the peace process, both India and Pakistan have to take certain measures which are Kashmir specific and which provide relief to the people.

We appreciate that both India and Pakistan have genuine interest in Jammu and Kashmir, but they also have to acknowledge the fact that Jammu and Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiri people; and that as a principal party to this dispute, we should have the final say on future of the State.

Another thing which is of great concern to me, and I am sure it will be of concern to other like minded people as well. To us the whole State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed, and the fact that there is no militancy in some areas of the State does not mean that these areas are not disputed any more.

And if the whole state is disputed then why is that Muslim leaders from the Valley, who do not even represent majority of the Muslims there, are projected as leaders of Kashmiri people. Why that is in these talks, whether they are held with Indian leaders or with Pakistani leaders, there is no one to represent people of Jammu, Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir?

Does it mean that both governments and these so called representatives of the Kashmiri people have tacitly agreed to find some kind of solution for the Valley only? If that is the case a clear message should go out from this conference that any such solution will not be acceptable; and that cosmetic changes will not provide a lasting solution to bring peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir and in South Asia.

Writer is a Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is a Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

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