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On June 9, a very significant political development took place. That day, Jammu witnessed the emergence of a new forum – Forum Against Dixon Plan (FADP). It was founded by four persons who hailed from the BJP, Congress, Panun Kashmir and Jammu State Morcha (Progressive), under the convener-ship of Bali Bhagat, BJP state vice-president and former MLA from Ramban.
Explaining the provocation for setting up the FADP, the founders told media persons, “A sinister process seems to have been set into motion to divide Jammu Province along the Chenab River on communal lines and facilitate the emergence of Greater Kashmir, comprising the Valley and Muslim-majority areas of Jammu and Ladakh.” They justified their apprehension by referring to the adoption of a highly controversial resolution on the “Chenab Valley Autonomous Hill Council” in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council, without opposition from any political party, last year. They referred to other “administrative measures taken by the state government in recent times” which, they feared, were all designed to facilitate implementation of the 1950 Sir Owen Dixon Plan.
FADP accused “a significant section of the top echelons of the Indian political class, cutting across party lines,” of “toying with the idea of a compromise with Pakistan to accommodate its sinister designs on Jammu and Kashmir.” The upshot of their argument was that the “original Dixon Plan is being variously disguised as Musharraf Formula, Kathwari Plan, Greater Autonomy or Self-rule” and that the “National Conference and the PDP have been making regular forays into various areas of Jammu province to polarize communal opinion in favour of Greater Kashmir.”
The opposition to the Dixon Plan rests on the fact that the “entire process has a bearing on the very survival of minorities across the length and breadth of the state.” “The authority of the Government of India in the State and its commitment to protect secular imperatives stands undermined as never before since independence. The situation is even worse than the era when the British Rulers embarked upon carving out Pakistan in the Muslim majority areas of undivided India”, they add.
FADP founders say “there is a large corpus of opinion in these areas which still believes that the Government of India and the political class will never indulge in such treachery” and warn that “it is a situation similar to when the people living in Lahore before the partition believed in the assurances of Gandhi and Nehru that partition of the country shall never become a reality”. They exhort this section to review the situation and adopt an approach that could defeat those thinking in terms of dividing Jammu along River Chenab, setting up Greater Kashmir, and compromising the Indian position in Jammu & Kashmir by accommodating the evil designs of Pakistan in this part of the country.
They warn that the “holocaust that followed the country’s partition is bound to replicate (here in Jammu province) given the fact that religious cleansing in Kashmir valley has not shaken the reckless Indian Political class”. “In this situation, all right thinking people, particularly in Jammu Province, have a greater responsibility to stop another partition and prevent the impending holocaust”.
The basic objective behind formation of the FADP is, “it is an attempt at rescuing the threatened minorities and to defend the unity and integrity of Jammu Province, cutting across all religious and political loyalties and affiliations”. “The objective of FADP is neither regional nor local, but essentially national. It is to prevent the balkanization of the nation”.
FADP’s June 9 statement reflects legitimate apprehensions and fears, as can be seen from just five instances. One, it is no secret that the BJP had decided to give extraordinary concessions to Islamabad and give legitimacy to the politics of communalism and separatism in Kashmir by giving maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas as early as March 1999. BJP agreed to accept Pakistan’s anti-India suggestions in March 1999, when Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz met at Colombo to discuss ways and means to resolve the so-called Kashmir issue, diffuse the potential danger in South Asia, and harmonize India-Pakistan relations.
The meeting between the two resulted in an agreement which was to be implemented over a span of four/five years. The agreement, inter alia, suggested “plebiscite” in Jammu and Kashmir on regional/district basis, division of Jammu province along Chenab River on communal lines, “maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas” and “annexation” of the remaining areas of Jammu province and Ladakh region by India.
Singh and Aziz were to meet again after a month to give concrete shape to this agreement, but it was thwarted by the Kargil invasion of 1999. Later, the BJP-led NDA Government fell in 2004. Had the people of India voted the BJP-led NDA to power at the Centre, New Delhi would have surely implemented the Colombo Agreement.
Two, is no secret that on May 2, 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media persons that he and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had virtually reached an agreement over Kashmir – “a non-territorial solution” – but couldn’t give it practical shape because certain domestic developments in Pakistan had tied the Pakistani President’s hands. One such development, according to the Prime Minister, was the unending personal feud between the Pakistani President and Pakistani Chief Justice, whom the former had sacked. Dr Manmohan Singh made public what had transpired between the Indian back channels and Indian Foreign Office and Pakistani back channels and Foreign Office, and Jammu and Kashmir, during the crucial 15th general elections.
What the Indian Prime Minister told reporters was exactly what Pervez Musharraf had claimed repeatedly since the spring of 2007, which attracted much media attention across the world. He did not get ample coverage in India. Why? A riddle.
What, according to Musharraf, was the agreement reached between Islamabad and New Delhi? Musharraf told reporters everywhere that, “I came out with a broad outline” which included “gradual demilitarization of the Line of Control and Kashmiri cities; maximum self-governance on both sides of the Line of Control; a joint governing mechanism for Kashmir, to include Pakistanis, Indians, and local Kashmiri leaders; and, most important, a porous Line of Control… I wanted to make the Line of Control irrelevant, to open it on six to eight places and let trade flourish… That way Pakistan could say the line was finished and India could say it still existed…”
Musharraf told media persons everywhere that, “he hoped to implement this framework ‘for 15 years’. And then (both sides could) revisit it and see how to move forward…The Line of Control would become almost irrelevant after 15 years… We (Musharraf and Manmohan Singh) were close… I only wish the two governments would start again. The leaders needed to be open-minded and bold… I thought we had to have peace for the sake of the entire region and for India and Pakistan… We could reap a lot of economic advantages… (I) authorized secret ‘back channel’ talks by special envoys in hotel rooms in Bangkok, Dubai and London from 2004 to 2007. The talks got little attention in the US media until a detailed article by South Asia expert Steve Coll in the New Yorker in March 2009… The envoys worked on a framework for resolving three major boundary disputes. The first two – over the 20,000-foot Siachen glacier and the Sir Creek waterway between India and Pakistan – could be solved tomorrow… As for Kashmir, (he) devised a compromise for a seemingly intractable problem…” The compromise was what our Prime Minister and Pervez Musharraf hinted at in May 2005 and 2007, respectively, and what Jaswant Singh and Sartaj Aziz had worked out at Colombo in March 1999.
Three, on April 24, 2010 Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who was Pakistan’s Foreign Minister between 2002 and 2007, told The Times of India in Lahore that “had not the anti-Musharraf upsurge triggered by the sacking of the chief justice convulsed Pakistan,” the “deal that was cobbled together through secret parleys held in India, Pakistan and several foreign capitals for more than three years,” would have been given as effect to – a deal that “could have resolved the sub-continent’s thorniest security and political dispute.” Kasuri also said, “he has never spoken of this Track-II success earlier, other than saying that he knew of a possible way to resolve the Kashmir problem that was acceptable to both countries.”
What exactly did Kasuri reveal regarding the solution worked out by India and Pakistan? According to The Times of India, he said: “Negotiators from Islamabad and New Delhi had quietly toiled away for three years, talking to each other and Kashmiri representatives from the Indian side as well as Kashmiris settled overseas to reach the only possible solution to the Kashmir issue.” He said the “two sides had agreed to full demilitarization of both Jammu & Kashmir as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which Islamabad refers to as Azad Kashmir. In addition, a package of loose autonomy that stopped short of the ‘azadi’ and self-governance aspirations had been agreed on and was to be introduced on both sides of the disputed frontier. We agreed on a point between complete independence and autonomy.”
Kasuri did not stop here, but added, “both countries, realizing the sensitivity of such a deal, had agreed not to declare victory or tom-tom the negotiations.” The “hardliner separatist Syed Ali Shah Gilani was the only Kashmiri leader who refused to come on board. He would accept nothing but merger with Pakistan, which ironically is something we too wanted but knew wasn’t practical. I once had a seven-to-eight hour meeting with him and even Musharraf met him, but he refused to budge…”
As per Kasuri, “almost all the actors on the Kashmiri stage were on board the accord that was to be signed during a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Islamabad that was scheduled for February-March 2007, but never happened.”
Kasuri further disclosed: “I advised the president that inviting the PM (Manmohan Singh) at that time would not have been possible. And that we should wait for a more peaceful moment to announce the plan, otherwise all the hard work of three years by the two sides would be wasted… Since the Opposition was on a roll against Musharraf at that time, any peace plan would have been rejected by them as a sell-out to India.”
Four, on more than one occasion, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference–Mirwaiz (APHC-M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also admitted that a solution to the Kashmir issue had been worked out. In fact, he is one of those Kashmiri separatists who has consistently hailed the four-point Kashmir formula suggested by Musharraf, saying it appears to be the only feasible solution considering the situation as it prevails in India and Pakistan.
Five, A.G. Noorani, mouthpiece of Islamabad and Kashmiri separatists, has been hinting at this type of solution since 2007. He has written a number of essays on the Musharraf formula and repeatedly urged the Indian establishment to accept and implement it forthwith, saying such a gesture on New Delhi’s part would end the 63-year-old impasse between the two countries and also satisfy the Kashmiri Muslims.