India-Pakistan peaceniks stress need for genuine and urgent solutions
New Delhi, Jan 12: India and Pakistan should jointly demilitarise both parts of Jammu and Kashmir and take urgent and genuine steps to resolve the Kashmir dispute, which is a core issue between the two South Asian countries. “This (Kashmir) is a core issue (and) there must be a genuine and urgent effort to find solutions,” said a declaration issued at the end of a three-day joint peace conference that began here Sunday. The declaration issued at the conclusion of Indo-Pak peace conclave “India-Pakistan -A Roadmap Towards Peace” demanded withdrawal of troops from civilian areas across Jammu and Kashmir. “Firstly, both India and Pakistan must jointly agree to de-militarise Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said, stressing that India should repeal the special powers given to armed forces in the state to fight militants. It also suggested that democratic institutions should be strengthened in Jammu and Kashmir and an independent tribunal established “to ensure Article 370 is reinstated” in its “original form as a step towards building confidence and goodwill”. The declaration favoured resumption of “uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue process between the two countries, whatever turns and twists in the relations between the two countries be.” It suggested that these talks should be held at any suitable Indo-Pak border. The Conference was attended by several parliamentarians and human rights activists of India and Pakistan, including Asma Jehangir, Aitzaz Ahsen, Kuldip Nayar, Admiral Ramdass and Mani Shankar Iyer. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik and Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone also spoke at the conference. The conference urged the two countries to take steps for resolving the Siachen Glacier issue, Sir Creek and Wullar barrage at the earliest. This would serve as a major confidence building measure. On the issue of terrorism, the declaration said that there is a need to set up a mechanism for combating this menace unitedly. The two countries formulated their policies under the SAARC convention of terrorism. It also supported formulation of joint Indo-Pak economic partnership forum. The peace votaries said Kashmiris should be allowed “to live and work in Pakistan if they wish to”. They also emphasized that interests of minorities in Jammu and Kashmir should be protected and opinions and aspirations of people in all regions of the state should be taken care of when working out solutions.Declaration TextTHE contents and outcome of the bilateral talks should be as transparent as possible, so that there is accountability to the people of both countries.There should be coordination amongst the various ministries of the government of India involved and concerned with India- Pakistan relations and policy.There must be no militarist/chauvinist statements from political or military leadership of the two countries.CONFIDENCE BUILDING MEASURESJoint India Pakistan committees must be set up on Kashmir, hate speech, human rights, distribution of water resources, prisoners, military expenditure and other CBMs.Items long awaiting solution like Siachin, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage need to be settled immediately.KASHMIR Since this is a core issue there must a genuine and urgent effort to find solutions. Firstly both India and Pakistan must jointly agree to de-militarise Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian government should repeal the Armed forces Special Powers Act. Withdrawal of troops and punishment of those guilty of crimes against people. Strengthening of democratic institutions and establishing an independent tribunal to ensure Article 370 for Kashmir. Reinstate Article 370 in its original form as a step towards building confidence and goodwill. Allow Kashmiris to live and work in Pakistan if they wish. Protect the interests of minorities in J&K. Take the opinions and aspirations of people in all areas in J&K when working out solutions.DEMILITARISATION Demilitarise border between India and Pakistan. Reduce military spending by at least 10% per year, and divert the savings to the social and development sector. In order to reduce tensions, it is important that military commanders of both countries meet and interact, as part of the peace dialogue.JOINT MANAGEMENT OF WATER RESOURCES Revisit the Indus Water Treaty in the light of new factors like climate change and its implications based on the principles of equitable sharing rather than division of waters.VISA FREE SOUTH ASIA The possibility of a visa free regime has been often discussed but not operationalised. Stringent scrutiny can be done without undue restrictiveness. Opening of consulates in all the major cities of both the countries. Special facilities for senior citizens and children below 12 years. Free exchange of scholars, students and technical experts.ECONOMIC COOPERATION Free flow of goods and commodities, encouragement of joint business initiatives. India must unilaterally open the borders to further facilitate border trade. Build cooperation on the existing women led initiatives. India must take initiative to build the trade between the two countries and with the rest of South Asia. Ease customs and tariff procedures, and issuing of business visas. Free movement for migrant workers. Try to formulate a joint economic partnership agreement between India and Pakistan. Set up more branches of more Indian and Pakistani banks and financial institutions in each others’ territories. Collaborative approaches on issues relating to WTO and international trade.JOINT PATROL OF BORDERS Change the beating retreat ceremony at the Wagah border to reflect peace, not conflict. Conduct joint research on ecological and climate related issues. Siachen Glacier must become a zone of peace: it should be evacuated of army presence altogether. This is important for both for reasons of environmental and also for the sake of soldiers. Punish those guilty of torture, rape, plunder in the name of security, counter terror, war.TERRORISM Both countries should work together to counter terrorism and fundamentalism which are common challenges. Set up joint mechanisms, and share intelligence and related information within the framework of the 1987 SAARC convention on combating terrorism.MEDIA, INFORMATION AND CULTURE There has to be a self-censorship stop hate speech, war mongering in the media. The flow of information, software, know-how, knowledge should be opened up. Import of books, periodicals, newspapers should be permitted without impediment. Meeting of senior editors should be held, in effort to lead media away from jingoism. Media houses should be allowed to station journalists in each others capitals without difficulty. Cultural exchange must be freely allowed and encouraged between the two countries.EDUCATION Revision of curricula in both countries to encourage friendship, not hate.NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT Roll back on the nuclear program in both countries to establish a nuclear free South Asia and cooperate jointly towards global disarmament.NATIONAL AND ETHNIC QUESTION Since this is an important and extremely sensitive question in South Asia, attempts to be made in both countries to find solutions to conflicts around these questions, involving all parties in the dispute. Facilitate the coming together of academia and civil society to build a better understanding and possible consensus on this issue. Create space for national and other minorities in all parts of India and Pakistan.