Hurriyat Conference (M) held a meeting of its Executive Council under the chairmanship of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to discuss the current political situation including the Foreign Secretary level talks between India and Pakistan.
According to a statement the APHC Executive welcomed the renewed efforts by India and Pakistan to re-engage on the path of dialogue after a breakdown of diplomacy and a period of high tensions.
Terming the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries a positive development, the APHC Executive stated that it has always welcomed any step that might improve the relationship and build confidence between India and Pakistan since it is a requisite for any process to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
However, the APHC Executive emphasized that the Kashmir Issue must not be ignored or brushed aside, stating: “further precious time should not be wasted to initiate a meaningful dialogue process.” It further stated that: “the time has come for the Government of India, Government of Pakistan and the people of Jammu & Kashmir to engage in a serious effort to resolve the Kashmir Issue once and for all.”
Taking stock of past experience, the APHC Executive concluded that “bureaucratic engagements and talks will not be able to tackle what is essentially a political issue requiring the exercise of real statesmanship and political decision-making. If the leadership in India and Pakistan continue to avoid the path of statesmanship and continue to rely on bureaucratic approaches and process, it will only serve to keep South Asia endlessly trapped in uncertainty and instability. “
Further elaborating on this point, APHC stated: “We have seen processes start, stretch on and on with little progress achieved only to get stalled and then start again. In the meantime, the people of Kashmir suffer the uncertainty of the ongoing conflict.”
Arguing that it is time to move beyond slow-moving and open-ended processes, he said: “To achieve a breakthrough what is truly needed is determined political leadership in India, Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir displaying extraordinary foresight, courage, creativity and political imagination. There is a need for all sides to radically depart from the patterns and policies of the past and move towards a serious search for solutions.”
Stating that the APHC was ready to move forward, the APHC Executive concluded with an ardent appeal to Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sharif: “We call upon both the Prime Ministers to take up the Kashmir Issue in a more serious way and as a matter of priority. They should engage each other and involve the leadership of Jammu & Kashmir in a combined effort to find a solution that accommodates the needs and interests of all parties and which upholds the Kashmiri people’s aspirations and right of self-determination. The APHC firmly believes that it is possible to find such a solution which will be acceptable to both India and Pakistan and which also reflects the will of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The only thing required is the political will and imagination to search for it.”
Taking note of the recent political developments in J&K, the APHC Executive reiterated its stand: “that state elections in Jammu & Kashmir have no bearing on the Kashmir Dispute and can by no means overshadow the right of self-determination.” Commenting on the legal reality that Jammu & Kashmir is an internationally disputed region, it further pointed out that “the UN Security Resolutions have made it clear that no government formed in Jammu & Kashmir – on either side of the LOC – has the ability to determine the political status of Jammu & Kashmir nor can it in any way supersede the people of Jammu & Kashmir’s right to self-determination. At most elections in J&K are about local governance and administration.”
Recalling that the last many decades have seen multiple elections in Jammu & Kashmir, the APHC Executive agreed that history is a testament to the fact that elections are in no way related to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Regarding elections, it further concluded that “neither the voter turnout in elections nor the type of government they result it can be termed as either a “defeat” or “victory” vis-à-vis the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination. The right of self-determination stands as a legal, moral, political reality irrespective of what elections takes place or governments form on either side of the LOC in Jammu & Kashmir.”