Saturday, 28 February 2015
To Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Nawaz Sharif,
Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Nawaz Sharif,
28 February 2015
Kashmir National Party
28 Brook Road
Re: India Pakistan talks and Kashmir
I am writing this letter on behalf of Kashmir National Party which is a pro peace, pro democracy and pro people party; and which strongly oppose forces of extremism, terrorism and hatred. Also the KNP believes that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is legally not part of any country; and its future is yet to be determined by the people of the former Princely State.
I am sure you will agree that first responsibility of every civilised and democratic government is to protect life, liberty and property of the people. When Pakistani supported ‘Tribal Invaders’ was not too far from the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, under this serious threat the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir expressed his desire to accede to India - which was provisionally accepted by the then Governor General of India – that life, liberty and property of his people could be saved.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir had an option to determine their future either by accepting this ‘Provisional accession’ or rejecting it; or negotiating some new terms, once the invaders were driven out of the State territory. We people of Jammu and Kashmir State never had an opportunity to express our opinion on the matter because India failed to vacate the State territory; and subsequent events also made Pakistan a ‘party’ to the dispute.
Hitherto, the former Princely State is forcibly divided, and innocent people suffer on both sides of the divide. Whereas, the KNP strongly believes that there is no military solution to the Kashmir dispute, and resolution could only be achieved through a process of dialogue; however, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the principal party to the dispute could not be sidelined in the process of dialogue.
We are pleased on the resumption of India and Pakistan Foreign Secretary level talks to resolve bilateral disputes. The people of Jammu and Kashmir State in General and the KNP in particular believe that the Kashmir dispute is not a territorial dispute; and India and Pakistan CANNOT determine future of the Former Princely State by ignoring aspirations of the people.
We acknowledge that there are three schools of thought in Jammu and Kashmir, namely those who want to accede to India, those who want to accede to Pakistan and those who want to become independent. Those who want to join India or Pakistan their interests are protected by the respective governments; but those who espouse the cause of an independent Jammu and Kashmir their interests and apprehensions are not represented when India and Pakistan hold bilateral talks on Jammu and Kashmir.
Furthermore, there is a long history that people of Jammu and Kashmir living on the Indian side of the divide, whether they believe in an independent Jammu and Kashmir or an accession to Pakistan, their views and aspirations are represented because they regularly interact with top level Pakistani officials. Also on various occasions these people have had opportunities to meet senior Indian officials, and put forward their views.
The people of so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan who promote an idea of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir are deliberately ignored by officials of India and Pakistan. Our views, aspirations and concerns are not represented at any level.
In view of the above we strongly urge that people of Jammu and Kashmir who promote peace and tolerance; and whose aspirations and concerns are hitherto ignored must be made part of the dialogue that amicable solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found.
I look forward to hearing from you, and hope that some actions will be taken to engage people in the dialogue process and empower them.
Dr Shabir Choudhry
Director Diplomatic Committee,
Kashmir National Party.