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‘Kashmir to be solved within two years’: Mir Qasim

82-years-old Syed Mir Qasim is a veteran politician of Jammu & Kashmir. Having served as the Congress Chief Minister of the state, the Syed is now off active politics. However, some circles believe that Qasim is internally active as the government of India is said to have approached the former chief Minister to help in resolving the Kashmir tangle.

In an interview with MG’s Srinagar correspondent Javed Matjee, the senior politician expressed optimism that Kashmir issue would be solved within two years. He admits that despite his being off active politics, he is in touch with Pakistan, India and Kashmiri separatists. According to Qasim ,converting the Line of Control (LoC) into international border, with some minor changes, is the best possible solution of Kashmir issue. Excerpts:

What you think are the basic causes of present turmoil in Kashmir?
I think the present situation is the result of ignoring genuine political and other problems of the people of Kashmir, for which I hold both the governments at New Delhi and here, including myself, responsible. Continued backtracking on the part of Indian leaders hurt Kashmiris badly and they started thinking on different lines. Nobody in Kashmir looks at India and Pakistan the way both the countries were being looked prior to militancy. Kashmiris have never seen the bright face of Indian democracy. It is in the light of this situation that most of genuine thinkers within India believe that the anger and anguish shown by Kashmiris now, was genuine. Look at the election history of Kashmir. Except in 1977, no elections in the state were fair and transparent. Who pushed Syed Salahuddin (The supreme commander of Hizbul-Mujahdeen) to militancy by rigging elections in 1987?

Do you justify use of gun?
I am of the opinion that with the help of the gun you can take an issue to any height, but cannot solve it. Be it the Indian or Pakistani gun or the one used by Kashmiris.

Then what you think could be the solution?
Pakistan and India have to undertake not to use force over Kashmir. After that there is need to consult all sections of Kashmiri society, whether living with India or Pakistan.

But India and Pakistan have already started talking about outstanding issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Do you think this could be a beginning?
I think, yes. Both President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee possess the capacity and capability of solving the Kashmir issue. If both the leaders move in sincere and straight direction, and refuse to succumb to internal pressures, I foresee a solution to Kashmir problem at the hands of these two.

You opine that two-way agreements of the past 53 years have failed to resolve the issue. Under such circumstances, what you think could pave the way for a final resolution?
I have a vibrant formula to solve the Kashmir issue. However, I will disclose it to the concerned parties once I am convinced that parties are sincere in resolving the issue. My calculations say that the issue will be solved within two years from now.

Under these circumstances what you think could be the lasting solution?
A: I think converting the line of control into the international border, with small changes, could be the best solution to Kashmir problem.

Do you think that people of Kashmir would accept any such solution?
The people of Kashmir have to realize that they have scarified a lot during past 12 years. I do not agree with those who opine that the sacrifices have highlighted the Kashmir issue. My belief is that the sacrifices offered by people of Kashmir are the heaviest price to highlight an issue. As a Kashmiri I take it as my duty to ensure that these sacrifices do not go waste. I would say that if India allows Kashmiris to live with dignity and restore all their political, social and economic rights, then people should agree to accept it. However, I agree that hate and alienation of people against India has reached its peak.

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