Press: Interlocutor’s Report, Back to Square One

Washington, D.C. May 31, 2012. “The report of the interlocutors for Jammu & Kashmir is unfortunately a mess and unquestionably a diversion from the primary interests of the people, if not an outright diversionary tactic by the members of the group. In fact, that is what some members of the leadership of the resistance have charged. None feels that the report represents the will of the people and most believe that the government is simply buying time to avoid the inevitable, a real political solution to the quagmire that Kashmir has become,” said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai while reacting to the report that was issued on May 23, 2012.

Dr. Fai said that the team recommends that Article 370 should be made special within the Indian constitution.  And it is quite clear that the members of the team know well that this option has been rejected by the people of Kashmir many times in the past.  And they also know that Kashmiris have had autonomy within this Article, which has been abrogated due to the passage of time. The people have revolted against the status quo and status quo cannot be an answer.  Therefore, talking about Article 370 is an insult to the intelligence of the Kashmiri people. 

“The interlocutors have read the situation in Kashmir through the old grimy lenses of policy makers in New Delhi and did not bother to recognize that it is the obduracy and stubbornness of India that fails to accept the fact that Kashmir is not a law and order issue, nor is it a center-state question; it is primarily an issue of the 17 million people of Jammu & Kashmir which under all international agreements is not an integral part of any member state of the United Nations, including India and Pakistan.  If that historical fact is ignored, there cannot be any lasting solution to this tragic situation,” Fai added.

 

Dr. Fai warned that India may make a deal with any so-called leader of Kashmir, but deal making does not by itself establish legitimacy.  This deal making must be acceptable to the common man on the street.  He is the one who is the real stakeholder, and the legitimacy of any deal rests with his acceptance. History tells us that even the so-called ‘Lion of Kashmir,’ Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who had agreements with the founding Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Iron Lady, Indira Gandhi, could not sell them to his people.  Therefore, it is imperative that India understands that no solution to the Kashmir problem will last if it does not have the consent of the people and their leadership, which is represented by the Kashmiri resistance, which has demonstrated time and again the ability to garner the support of the masses. 

Fai emphasized, however distinguished, the partiality and bias of the members of the group of interlocutors becomes clear when the report states that it takes into account the official documents related to political and constitutional developments since Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian Union.  Paradoxically, the report does not mention that the accession was subject to a referendum of the people of Kashmir. The report does not mention that it was in 1948 and 1949 that India and Pakistan agreed at the United Nations Security Council to give the people of Kashmir the right of self-determination to decide the fate of their land.  It also does not mention the 18 UN resolutions since in support of self-determination. 

“The report nowhere says that the dominant desire of the people of Kashmir as confirmed by the survey conducted by British-based Chatham House on May 27, 2010 is “Aazadi,” or independence or freedom from occupation. The survey says that 90 to 95 % of the people of the Valley demanded Aazadi.  The word Aazadi wasn’t even mentioned in the report,” Fai said.

In addition, Fai underscored, the report says that Jammu and Kashmir should continue to function as a single entity within the Indian Union. Mr. Padgoankar should listen to a member of his fraternity, Mr. Vir Sanghvi who wrote in Hindustan Times on August 16, 2008, “Why are we still hanging on to Kashmir if the Kashmiris don’t want to have anything to do with us? “

Dr. Fai concluded that the report fell far short of the real goal. The wishes and aspirations of the people are Aazadi, which were completely ignored in the report.  The interlocutors  wittingly or unwittingly do not want to acknowledge the true sentiments of the people, which obviously they know are for freedom from occupation.  Their approach seems to have been merely bureaucratic. 

Simply put, the wishes and aspirations of the people were ignored, so we are back to square one. 

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