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Kashmir problem and its probable solution
By Mohd Amir 

Endless violence: Scenes like this are 
commonplace in contemporary Kashmir

In the last 50 years it has been observed that India and Pakistan have failed on all fronts whether it is border problem, trade or diplomacy. Things aggravated after the nuclear tests. It was expected that there would be a substantial outcome of Agra Summit. Nothing much came out of it either.

On Kashmir, India and Pakistan should have a dialogue, within the framework of the Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration. The people of J&K are fed up with terrorist activity, which began twelve years back.

Pakistan wants to keep the issue alive, with the result that innocent Kashmiris have been sandwiched between militants and the military.

There are three angles to this problem. First of it is that Maharaja Gulab Singh captured this state through General Zorauar and his forces in 1896. In this war, thousands of Dogra soldiers got killed. It was at this time that the Dogra dynasty came into existence as the biggest state of the British Empire which spanned 84,000 sq miles. 

Jammu and Kashmir is divided into five different parts:Gilgit and Baluchistan, Western strip of Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Jammu province, Ladakh (which includes Leh and Kargil) and Kashmir valley.

A common mistake is that when we say Kashmir, we mean the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. The fact is that J&K is divided into five different parts. Out of these five divisions two were occupied by Pakistan in January 1949 under a Ceasefire Agreement. Those are two culturally different parts. Lilu people living in what is referred to as "Azad Kashmir," inspite of speaking Kashmiri, speak Dogri and Punjabi. On the other hand people living in Gilgit and Ladakh speak different languages and are culturally different. These are some of the facts which both countries will have to keep in mind.

Political groups like Hurriyat and Ladakh Buddhist Association which are recognised in one region are not popular in another. The people in different regions of Jammu and Kashmir have different visions and aspirations. This is a fact which is also applicable to northern part of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

The second point that is much talked about are UN resolutions of 1948. As Kofi Annan says, today it is impossible to implement these resolutions. According to these resolutions, Pakistan has to vacate not only northern part but also the PoK before further steps can be taken.

The third point is if India and Pakistan join hands and work together, there can be numerous advantages to both the countries. Think of a situation where trade, tourism and transport become free of border hassles. If Uri-Muzaffarabad and Jammu-Sialkot roads are opened, it would be the beginning of a new era of prosperity and brotherhood. This way, not only both the countries would benefit, but dangers of nuclear war would be avoided. SAARC, which is dying because of India-Pak tension, can get a new lease of life.

The spirit of age demands leaving the past behind. France and Germany were long time enemies. But they are working together in the European Union, gaining from a single currency and a common market.

Military spending drains vital resources of the two countries, leaving little for development, poverty alleviation, public health and education. Let us hope that the two countries come together to forge durable peace and improve the quality of life in this region.
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