Real Negotiations

Ghulam-Nabi-FaiGhulam Nabi Fai

The world powers haven’t voiced a syllable of reproach to India for its human rights violations in Kashmir. Their tacit message to India’s leaders: your economic attractiveness and hegemony in South Asia exculpate your human rights atrocities in Kashmir. Does that reflect a profile in courage?

More trade between India and Pakistan will do nothing to end the indigenous Kashmiri resistance, which is fuelled by shocking human rights violations and the denial of self-determination for more than half a century. No power on earth can bargain away the rights of Kashmiris; only they can determine their own political destiny.

The international community should not abandon Kashmir to the whims of India and Pakistan. They should be persuaded to permit outside intervention to resolve the Kashmir conflict. They should also be encouraged to permit the leadership of the people of Kashmir to participate as full partners in the negotiating enterprise with both India and Pakistan.

Isn’t the demand of the people of Kashmir legitimate and recognized by the United Nations and international community? If yes, then why should the world powers prefer trade and commerce to moral values and ethical principles? Isn’t trade and commerce trampling on principles, democratic values, and human rights in Kashmir? Isn’t it a bad precedence to prefer trade to morality?

There is an urgent need now for Kashmiris to press upon India and Pakistan the importance of approaching this issue constructively rather than like some game of chess at a local parlour. The foolhardiness of repeating the same gambit over and over again eventually becomes costly as well as unsuccessful. The opportunity for real change is at hand.

The first challenge, as we know, is for Kashmir to get to the table. The second and equally important challenge is the ability of any agreement on Kashmir to be acceptable to the broad spectrum of the people of Jammu & Kashmiris in the Valley, Ladakh, Jammu, Azad Kashmir & Gilgit Baltistan.

Kashmir was at the table, at least in name, when late Prime Minister Nehru had an agreement with Sheikh Abdullah which is known as the “1952 Delhi Agreement.” Since then, India and the mainstream Kashmiri leadership have had multiple accords, like the Abdullah – Nehru Agreement of 1952; the Indira – Sheikh Accord of 1974; the Farooq – Rajiv Accord; the Mufti Sayyid and Modi Agreement, etc. They also failed because they sought to bypass another party, i.e., Pakistan. Therefore, it is quite logical that the talks must be tripartite with India, Pakistan and those who represent the true voice of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Real negotiations, not parlour games, are the key to resolving the conflict. The logistics of tripartite talks can be open to discussion but the principle cannot. The demand of the people of Kashmir that the Kashmiri leadership should be included in the talks is not based on passion alone but on important principles long acknowledged by the international community.

What is encouraging though is the inspirational message given by President Obama to the leadership of the South Asia on October 30, 2008 when he pronounced to facilitate an understanding between India and Pakistan to help resolve the Kashmir crisis. That message needs to be fulfilled for the sake of international peace and security.

The author is Kashmiri living in US. Opinions expressed in this article are author’s own.

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