Dixon Plan- Moves afoot to divide Jammu on communal lines

  • By Rustam
  • 20 June 2010

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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.

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