London: Well known Kashmiri leader Dr. Shabir Choudhry has said Kashmir is not only a political dispute, but also human issue.
Delivering a speech during a conference on Kashmir that was held in the British Parliament on Wednesday, Dr. Choudhry said the people of the region have faced tremendous suffering for decades because of what he called a tripartite claim, viz by Pakistan, India and those wanting it to be an independent entity.
He said that while Jammu and Kashmir is multi religious and multi ethnic state; the Kashmir dispute of the past 66 years is not religious in nature, but a political dispute that required a political solution.
He said that the Two Nations Theory was only applicable to British India and did not apply to the princely states, including Kashmir. This fact was acknowledged by the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
In a statement issued on June 17, 1947, Jinnah said: "That after the lapse of Paramountcy the Indian States would be constitutionally and legally sovereign states and free to adopt for themselves any course they wished. It is open to States to join Hindustan Constituent Assembly or Pakistan Constituent Assembly or to decide to remain independent".
He said that this clearly meant that the state of Jammu and Kashmir had three options, namely accession to India, accession to Pakistan or to become independent. This fact was also acknowledged by the UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948.
Dr. Choudhry proposed nine ways to address the Kashmir dispute and arrive at an acceptable solution:
1. Resolution of the Kashmir dispute is essential for the peace and stability of the entire region. It is, therefore, imperative that the Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people.
2. As the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the principal party in the Kashmir dispute, we must be part of the dialogue process on Kashmir, as we cannot allow bureaucrats of New Delhi and Islamabad to tell us what is good for us, and decide our future. We are mature and sensible people and know what is good for us.
3. Until such time that the Kashmir dispute is resolved, both India and Pakistan should take more Kashmir centric Confidence Building Measures; and open all traditional routes linking all parts of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir.
4. Both countries should make easier the travelling process that people of the divided State could meet, socialise and trade with each other.
5. Life, liberty and fundamental rights of all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir must be respected; and all political prisoners must be released and those uprooted by the militancy must be rehabilitated.
6. All parties to the Kashmir dispute should agree that there is no military solution to the Kashmir dispute; and make serious efforts to control and disband all those groups that promote religious hatred, intolerance, violence and terrorism.
7. Both India and Pakistan must show flexibility in their approach to solving the Kashmir dispute; and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan should also be part of the future negotiations.
8. Both countries should allow people to hold regional conferences that the people of Jammu and Kashmir could promote peace and tolerance, and build bridges of confidence and understanding and
9. Until such time that the Kashmir dispute is resolved, Pakistan should discard Act 74 and Gilgit Baltistan self - empowerment package 2009; and allow Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan to merge and establish a united government that people of Jammu and Kashmir on this side of the LOC could manage their own affairs.