Involve Pakistan for J&K peace, say interlocutors

Involve Pakistan for J&K peace, say interlocutors

Make LoC irrelevant, says three-member group

A panel appointed by the Centre has recommended that Pakistan should be involved in the search for a lasting solution to the vexed Jammu and Kashmir problem.

The panel comprising  Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari, had submitted its report to the Manmohan Singh government seven months ago. The report was made public on Thursday.

The candid recommendation to involve Pakistan makes a break from the position all along held by India that Kashmir is an integral part of the country and Pakistan has no role to play in the resolution of the Kashmir problem.

The 176-page report recommend that the Centre  reduce its footprint in the state merely to strategic and economic affairs. It should off-load more powers to the state by bringing in Constitutional amendments to ensure political, economic and cultural freedom for Kashmiris caught in civil strife for decades now.

The suggestion of limited control comes with a caveat that the clock cannot be turned back to pre-1953 era, where the Centre’s jurisdiction was confined to defence, external affairs, communication and finance.

The interlocutors believe that long-lasting peace and development in J&K cannot be achieved without bringing in harmony between the two sides of Kashmir — one controlled by India and the other by Pakistan.  

The report visualises establishing of democratic institutions for self-governance in areas of the princely state under the de-facto control of Pakistan.

"The core idea here is to make the LoC irrelevant, a mere line on the map," it stated. The report notes that the issues should be discussed with representatives of the other side of the LoC.

The report was made public a day after the Parliament session got over and when the home secretary-level talks between the two suspicious neighbours began in Islamabad.
The  interlocutors are also for setting up  a constitutional committee to review all acts and articles extended to Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 370 rephrasing

Though the report upholds Article 370 by saying that the word ‘temporary’ in the heading be replaced with ‘special’ while referring to the state, it refuses to rewind to the pre-1953 position.

Interestingly, the report advises that the governor should be appointed by the President in consultation with the state, which would suggest three names. This practise, however, is not followed for any state.  The report is likely to generate political heat, with the Home ministry intent on a debate.

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