‘Pakistan Agreed to Ditch its Position on Kashmir,’ says Diplomat Lambah

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SRINAGAR

Emissary Satinder K Lambah
Emissary Satinder K Lambah

Pakistan agreed to ditch its long-held position seeking a Kashmir solution through the implementation of a UN resolution for a referendum and agreed not to redraw borders during secret negotiations with India in 2007, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s special envoy revealed.

Satinder Lambah, India’s backchannel man on the secret talks between India and Pakistan, told Hindustan Times in an interview, the leadership on both sides had firmed up an agreement but it was not finally signed because of domestic turmoil that led to Pervez Musharraf’s removal.

“What we were working on, agreed there would be no reference to the United Nations resolution or a plebiscite in Kashmir. Both sides had agreed that borders cannot be redrawn,” said Lambah.

Lambah claimed the military establishment in Pakistan -– the army and the ISI – “was on board” and the agreement required discussions within the ruling party and with opposition leaders in India. The former special envoy has shared similar views on the negotiations in a speech he gave at SKICC in Srinagar in May 2014.

“We had an assurance from the military government of that time (under President Musharraf). The negotiators from Pakistan could not have been finalised it if the establishment had not been on board,” he said.

Lambah added, “we had agreed to the reduction of military troops, not paramilitary and that was subject to Pakistan ensuring an end to hostilities, violence and terrorism. That was a major prerequisite. There was no timeline by which the agreement was to be signed. The only time limit was that terrorism must end.”

“But, Mumbai (attack) was a very unfortunate incident and that did stop the dialogue. There was a break but we had already finished most of the work by then. After the Mumbai attacks, there were limited (back channel) contacts but what was agreed on by the Musharraf government was not disowned by the successive governments (headed first by the PPP under Yousaf Raza Gillani and currently by Nawaz Sharif),” he added.

The core agreements centered around the cessation of all hostilities and terrorism, a joint mechanism for socio-economic subjects only and an understanding that like all states, Jammu and Kashmir too would have autonomy in respect to revenue, finance and law and order.

Lambah maintains the agreement is a “win-win for Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir” and can be the basis for all governments, including the present one led by Narendra Modi.

“It was not negotiated keeping an individual or party in mind. Everyone has their own style. Pursuit of peace with Pakistan and a discussion on Kashmir has been undertaken by different prime ministers and I have no doubt that future governments will follow the same path,” he said.

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