Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Jammu and Kashmir conundrum; 71 years, 27 solutions

 Pallavi Sareen

 27 formulas have been proposed in the last 71 years for the resolution of Kashmir issue by various political parties, social groups, non-governmental organizations, think-tanks and noted thinkers of the world. All these formulas are detailed and well-documented. These formulas contain an in-depth account of how the Kashmir issue can be resolved without any bloodshed and how the two countries, India and Pakistan should move ahead in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Sir Owen Dixon’s proposal (1947-57)

The first to propose a formula for the resolution of Kashmir issue was Six Owen Dixon who worked for 10 long years between 1947 and 1957 to conclude that Kashmir can be resolved by accepting that it neither belongs to India nor Pakistan. He went on to say that it belonged to Kashmiris.

He proposed for holding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir but since it does not allow third-party mediation and ignores the ethnic, linguistic and religious complexity of Jammu and Kashmir, it was outrightly rejected by the government of India and Pakistan favored the option but ultimately rejected it. Sir Dixon then suggested a coalition government exist during the conduction of the plebiscite. The government could be composed of the two hitherto hostile parties; a neutral administration by trusted persons outside politics; or an executive constituted of United Nations representatives.

This alternative was also rejected by India and Pakistan. As a last resort, Sir Owen Dixon presented both governments with another proposal which called for a partition of the country and a plebiscite for the Valley. The plebiscite, which would be conducted by an administrative body of United Nations officers, would require complete demilitarisation. Pakistan rejected this proposal.

India- Pakistan Statement of Objectives (1958- 1968)

The second formula which dominated the debates in the 60s and 70s was the statement of objectives signed both by India and Pakistan in the year 1963.  For 10 long years, this was debated at the highest levels of both Indian as well as Pakistani establishment. India and Pakistan both initially agreed but due to the prevailing conditions in both the countries during those days, the formula despite being equitable failed to find takers.

It excluded the people of Jammu and Kashmir while asking the two nations, India and Pakistan to decide Kashmir.

Tashkent Declaration (1966)

Following the 1965 India-Pakistan war, President General Ayub Khan and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri were invited to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, by the Soviet government.

The Tashkent Declaration did not propose any concrete solution to the Kashmir problem but merely stated that the “interest of peace in the region and particularly in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and indeed the interests of the peoples of India and Pakistan were not served by continuance of tensions between the two countries.

It was against this background that Jammu and Kashmir was discussed and each of the sides set forth its respective position. The formula basically talked about maintaining status-quo on Kashmir. It got missing within a few years after being signed.

Sumit Ganguly proposal, first offered by Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri After Tashkent Declaration

A leading Indian-American scholar Sumit Ganguly presented his formula. He argued that the basic challenge in finding a solution to the Kashmir problem entails reconciling incongruous perceptions held by Indian and Pakistani decision-makers. He asserted that while Pakistan has been attempting to raise the Kashmir issue in the foreign policy context, India considers it an essentially domestic problem. Consequently, India perceives Pakistan’s support for Kashmiris as meddling into India’s internal affairs. He proposed that one possibility might be a formal acceptance of the status quo by both sides for the next twenty years or so, coupled with a ‘no-war pact.’ He further held out that such solution will be the logical successor to Shimla Agreement.

Selig Harrisons’ Proposal discussed Between President Ayub and Prime Minister Nehru in 1964.

Ganguly’s proposal was followed by Selig Harrison, a noted American scholar, suggesting that Kashmir under Indian control should be partitioned. Jammu and Ladakh should become part of the Indian union, while the Kashmir valley would be “united with sizeable Muslim pockets in Jammu and Ladakh.”

India may give to this “new state,” according to Harrison, “far-reaching autonomy as part of a Trieste-type solution,” and in return, Pakistan would “grant the same degree of autonomy to Pakistan Occupied  Kashmir.”

These new entities will be autonomous in all areas except defense, foreign affairs, communication, currency, foreign aid, and trade. Both India and Pakistan would withdraw their armed forces under UN supervision, retaining the right to reintroduce them under specified circumstances. Pakistan would terminate its support of Kashmiri insurgents. Gilgit, Hunza, and Baltistan would remain part of Pakistan, thus retaining Pakistan’s access to China.

India could then offer to give this new state far-reaching autonomy as part of a Trieste type solution, under which Pakistan would grant the same degree of autonomy to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. It enjoys international support but seeks to transform the dynamics of Kashmir conflict by offering incremental rather than abrupt change. This formula is under consideration at the highest levels even now since it has people-centric perspective and doesn’t disturb the geographical boundaries of both the countries.

Shimla Agreement (1969-1979)

From 1969 to 1979, the only formula that was believed to resolve Kashmir issue for all times to come was Shimla Agreement. Following the third India-Pakistan war in 1971, both countries signed the Shimla Accord in July 1972. The agreement proposed a bilateral approach including mutually accepted forms of mediation. This was essentially aimed at ensuring that line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences.

Robert Wirsing’s proposal (1980-1990)

Robert Wirsing, a leading American security expert suggested that 1948-49 United Nations resolutions possess little relevance in the wake of the upheavals, insurgency, the spread of nationalism and militancy in Kashmir. He proposed that regional reconciliation, not the re-configuration of regional power, is the only practical way for settlement of Kashmir issue. He is especially emphatic about ‘evenhandedness:’

“This implies recognition that both India and Pakistan have a legitimate state in Kashmir. Furthermore, that proposals for the settlement of Kashmir cannot possibly move ahead if those making the proposals are thought to be more interested in forging new alliances (or in building up new regional hegemonies) than in forging more peaceful regional relationships. Regional reconciliation, not re-configuration of regional power, should be objective of international intervention. It is only a practical objective. Without it, no settlement of any kind in Kashmir is likely.”

Bhartiya Janata Party’s proposal for Kashmir (1991-2001)

Ruling BJP proposed in the year 1991 that the only way of resolving Kashmir issue is by abrogation of Article 370 which gives special status to Kashmir in the Indian constitution. The 1998 BJP manifesto not only clearly stated that India’s sovereignty over the whole of Jammu and Kashmir was unequivocal, but also committed the BJP to seize control of 15 all areas that were under foreign occupations.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s Proposal for an Independent Kashmir

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has been seeking independence in both parts of Kashmir. The JKLF proposes to reunite the divided Jammu-Kashmir state and make it an independent country, with a democratic, federal and secular government. After 15 years, there would be a referendum under UN (or IKC) auspices. This referendum could determine whether the State will retain its independence forever, or if it becomes part of India or Pakistan instead.

The Kashmir American Council Proposal for the U.S. brokered Tripartite Dialogue

The Kashmir-American Council, a Washington-based organization has proposed an active American mediation role in Kashmir. It suggests a dialogue among 4 parties: the U.S, Pakistan, India, and the ‘Kashmiri People’ for the resolution of Kashmir issue. India opposed this formula while Pakistan favoured. The proposal also advocates that, given India’s violation of human rights in Kashmir, the U.S. should use its effective veto to stop the inflow of IMF and 17 World Bank consortium funds to India.

Independent States Proposal by Raju Thomas  A noted South-Asia Security expert, writer, and thinker Raju Thomas proposed the creation of several independent states in South Asia delineated along ethnic and religious demarcations. He proposed that within a zone of autonomous states, including several states in Kashmir, the central government of India or Pakistan would deal only with defense, foreign affairs, communications, and currency.

Asia Society Proposal for Shared Responsibility

Asia Society, an American think-tank based in New York, has floated the idea of India and Pakistan ‘sharing responsibility’ on the resolution of the Kashmir crisis. This framework suggests that India should give special status to Kashmir, as a step to build trust between the populations of ‘both parts of Kashmir’ (India and Pakistan), as well as to stop external support to the Kashmiri militants.

Building upon this framework in a rather optimistic fashion, it has proposed a ‘South Asia House’ – a scheme of comprehensive cooperation between the countries of the subcontinent, perhaps leading to a ‘confederation’ that would include Kashmir. The society envisages a role for the international community. Through seminars, conferences, and by tabling resolutions in the United Nations, the international community can sensitize populations the world over to the need to seek solutions of the problem in Kashmir.

Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema’s Proposal

A leading Pakistani scholar, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, has proposed that the most feasible solution of the problem seems to be a combination of partition, limited plebiscite, and UN trusteeship. Given the region’s demographics, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Baltistan should stay with Pakistan, while Jammu and Ladakh should go to India.

The Kashmir valley should be put under UN trusteeship for at least a decade to prepare the Valley for an eventual plebiscite.

Kashmir Study Group (KSG) Proposal for Kashmir Entity based on Kashmiriyat

Kashmir Study Group (KSG) of leading Kashmiri-American businessman, Farooq Kathwari, proposed for Kashmir entity based on Kashmiriyat. The group suggested that the best way to ensure progress towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute was to reconstitute Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of Kashmiriyat the cultural traditions of Kashmir. The extent of the reconstituted Kashmir would reflect the wishes of the residents of the parts of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sovereignty-Association Proposal by Ayesha Jalal

A Pakistani-American historian Ayesha Jalal opined that the best way to resolve Kashmir is to create a sovereignty-association within a political framework for a reunified and independent Kashmir. Jalal proposes that Indian and Pakistani troops be withdrawn, transforming Kashmir into a demilitarised zone with both countries guaranteeing its territorial integrity.

Divided Kashmir Proposal by Mushtaq ur Rehman

A leading Pakistani-American scholar Mushtaq-ur-Rehman has proposed to resolve the Kashmir dispute by dividing the state of Jammu and Kashmir following the precedence of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, which was based on a clear principle of division.

Lahore Declaration (1999)

In response to an invitation by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, visited Pakistan from February 20-21, 1999, on the inaugural run of the Delhi-Lahore bus service. Lahore declaration was signed which called for negotiated settlement through bilateral discussions.

The Andorra Model

Andorra proposal involves creating an autonomous region like the principality of Andorra between France and Spain with India and Pakistan jointly guaranteeing autonomy. Andorra proposal relies on India and Pakistan overseeing the defence of Kashmiri entity and jointly working out its funding.

The Chenab Formula

Another formula which was discussed in a track-II dialogue between India and Pakistan was Chenab formula, which essentially talked about complete division of Jammu and Kashmir. According to the ‘Chenab Formula’, Pakistan may consider ‘Doaba’, a narrow strip of land between Chenab and Ravi in the suburbs of Shakargarh, stretching up to Chhamb, Dhodha and Rajwari districts as an international border. Even the town of Kargil might go to India under this ‘give and take’ but from Kargil upward, India will have to agree to give territory to Pakistan,” the sources claimed.

The Musharraf Proposal

Another formula for the resolution of Kashmir issue was proposed by ex-Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. He proposed division and demilitarization on a geographical basis. The proposal unfreezed status quo and marked a shift in Pakistani thinking on the Kashmir issue. It was also believed by many a departure from stated positions.

The Aland Islands Model

The Aland Islands Model calls for demilitarization with limited autonomy. It essentially stabilizes the status quo and seeks international involvement. The concept of the Aland Islands’ autonomy is not based on the decentralization of power but on an agreement of shared powers established with the help and under the auspices of an international institution, i.e., the League of Nations. It was opposed by Pakistan and hence, was never even discussed as an option.

The Good Friday Agreement (Irish Model)

Another model for resolution of Kashmir issue which is being extensively discussed is “Good Friday Agreement (Irish Model).” It calls for sustained and structured dialogue process. The basic principle of this model is popular consent and self-determination. The only drawback of this model is that it conflicts with stated Indian position on Kashmir and presupposes institutionalized and structured dialogue process between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris which is not there.

These proposals are in addition to the working group report on Centre-State relations by Justice Sagheer Ahmed, Interlocutor’s report on Kashmir by M.M.Ansari, Radha Kumar and Daleep Padgaonkar, Greater Autonomy Proposal of National Conference, Self-Rule document of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Achievable Nationhood of People’s Conference leader Sajjad Gani Lone.

The report of the current centre’s representative on Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma would be an addition to the already long list of formulas proposed to resolve Kashmir. But the larger question is that if the focus is on engagement and not the resolution of Kashmir issue, what stops the government from engaging with people of Jammu and Kashmir for bringing permanent peace in the valley?


Pallavi Sareen is a freelance Journalist, writing for Kashmir Life and The Wire.  She can be reached out at


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