Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Most Important Sentence in the Prime Minister's Press Conference 04 Jan, 2014

This article is written by Arun Jaitley. Link to the original article is here.

                 The Prime Minister’s interaction  with the media on 3rd January,2014, gave rise to several controversies. His announcement that he was unavailable for leadership after the General Elections, his endorsement of Rahul Gandhi, his criticism of Narendra Modi, his admission of failure in tackling corruption and inflation were amongst the issues which  caught popular attention.  We on behalf of the BJP reacted on some of the issues.
                 The Kashmir comment in the Press Conference  got missed out amidst these controversies.  A media person asked the Prime Minister  a question  on his  Pakistan initiatives.  The Prime Minister revealed for the first time that secret envoys from India and Pakistan had almost arrived at a meeting to resolve the conflict on Kashmir. When  a break through appeared ‘in sight ‘,  General Pervez Musharraf had to make way for other leaders  and the agreement got blocked.  A few years ago when President Musharraf  was living in exile in London he had given a similar indication .
                 What was this possible resolution on Kashmir ?  The people of India  are entitled to know an answer to this question.   
                 The stated position of India has been very clear.  Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India.  In 1994 the Indian Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution asserting  that POK  was an integral part of India’s territory.  India firmly believes  that no third party intervention in Kashmir is permissible.  Pakistan has an unfinished agenda on Kashmir.  It has not reconciled to Kashmir being integral to India’s sovereignty. It has used warfare and terrorism  to achieve this end. India firmly believes that the age and era  of re-drawing boundaries is over.  India’s negotiating space on territory in the context of Kashmir resolution is negligible. 
                 I have always believed that the Nehruvian vision of giving a separate status to Jammu & Kashmir  was a flawed one.  The journey of the past 67 years has been  from separate status towards separatism.  The Congress stands for separate status, the National Conference advocates pre-1953 status, the PDP talks of self-rule, the separatists  talk of ‘Azadi’.  Each one of these  is intended to dilute India’s sovereignty.  Their intention is to weaken the constitutional and political link between Jammu & Kashmir and the rest of the country.   It is in this context that one needs to know the details of what this ‘almost arrived at’ agreed resolution between Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government and Pakistan was.  Pakistan had been advocating  an interim resolution  on Kashmir which comprised of several unacceptable  measures.  These included maintenance of territorial  status quo, demilitarization in Kashmir, dilution of the Line of Control for allowing  free movement of people and goods, a tripartite joint mechanism to take decisions  about Jammu & Kashmir for a specified period pending which a final  solution would be found.  Some Pakistani observers and Kashmiri groups  also spoke about the currency  of the two countries to be a valid tender  in Jammu & Kashmir.  I do not know if any or all of these  were a subject matter of the ‘almost arrived at’ resolution  to the Kashmir problem.  I hope the truth is otherwise.  I further hope that I do not have to wait for the memoirs of the Prime Minister to know the truth. 
                 Track Two diplomacy is not an unknown phenomenon.  It is an accepted instrument world over.  But Track Two diplomacy cannot be at complete variance with the stated national position. At best it can be marginally ahead of the  national thinking.   If the above stated points that the Pakistanis have been frequently mentioning i.e a  dilution  of the LOC and a tripartite  arrangement were part of this ‘breakthrough’ , it would be a defacto acceptance of Jammu & Kashmir being a disputed territory.  It is with great difficulty that Indian diplomacy has achieved a non-internationalization of the Kashmir issue and an internationalization of  cross-border terrorism.  By even suggesting such a resolution,  we could squander all gains.  De-militarisation of the valley without dismantling the terror infrastructure by Pakistan would be disastrous.  I hope the Government was not working in this direction.
                 Since the Prime Minister for the first time informed the nation  that a resolution on Kashmir was almost agreed to, it is eminently desirable that he  takes the nation into confidence  of what the specifics he had in mind about the  failed solution.  Even for history  to make assessment of Prime Minister’s tenure, these details would be of immense help.

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