Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India, SK Lambah Tuesday said New Delhi and Islamabad have been working to seek a solution to the Kashmir issue, and claimed these efforts have gathered momentum without the knowledge and involvement of any third party. He, however, clarified that there can be no redrawal of borders, and the Line of Control (LoC) must be agreed as a border between India and Pakistan, like any two normal states.
Lambha was participating in a seminar entitled ‘Discussion between India and Pakistan on J&K- A Historical Perspective’ here in his personal capacity. The seminar was organized by the Institute of Kashmir Studies, University of Kashmir.
“The Kashmir issue is a product of the circumstances at the time of the birth of India and Pakistan’s coming into being in the name of religion,” Lambah said.
He accepted that Kashmir issue has consumed enormous political, economic and diplomatic resources. “It has consumed enormous political, economic and diplomatic resources and remains to this day one of our national security preoccupations,” Lambha said.
He said that successive Prime Ministers of India have made resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue a priority. Lambha named Pt Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajive Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I K Gujral and Dr Manmohan Singh and hailed their efforts, which to him, they made to settle the Kashmir issue.
“I have had the privilege of working with six Prime Ministers of India on matters relating to Pakistan in the last 35 years. Each one of them had given priority to improving relations with Pakistan. At the highest level of the government, there has always been interest, readiness and resolve. This has helped us to move forward,” Lambha said, however, he did not mention the forward steps taken by India.
He asserted that there was no specific outline of a solution regarding Kashmir issue. “In view of past history, emotions, disagreements, violence, wars and failure of negotiations; it is not easy to specify the outline of a solution. However, as the past six decades have clearly shown, the Kashmir issue cannot be settled by war, force or violence. A solution will also remain elusive if we keep harping on positions that have failed to resolve the problem in the past,” Lambha said.
Inviting practical ideas to settle the Kashmir issue, Lambha said “We have to look for ideas that are practical, workable and acceptable. We can also learn some useful lessons from the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration.”
PM’s Special Envoy put forward his suggestions of a possible outline of a solution of the Kashmir issue on his personal capacity, including changing the LoC in a full-fledged border. “There can be no redrawal of borders,” he said, adding the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers in specified localities, end of violence, minimizing the presence of forces particularly in populated areas and self-governance for internal management in all areas.
Lambha said that a solution of Kashmir issue will substantially enhance India’s security and strength the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region and enable India focus more on rapidly emerging long term geopolitical challenges. “It will relieve the burden that our security forces have to shoulder in terms of lives and resources and could boost the Indian economy,” Lambha said.
He added that solution of the Kashmir issue will also enable Pakistan to contribute to the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to their progress and prosperity.
“These expected gains from a solution may not be automatic and will require sustained efforts. But, if it opens the door to new future for India and Pakistan, without compromising our security, integrity and constitutional framework, it is worth pursuing,” Lambah said adding “The alternative is status quo of a festering problem and lingering tragedy that will keep us from realizing our potential.”