KASHMIR - A WAY FORWARD
The following proposal was developed by some members of the Kashmir Study Group in consultation with several Indians and Pakistanis.
We recommend that a portion of the former princely State of Jammu and Kashmir be reconstituted as a sovereign entity (but one without an international personality) enjoying free access to and from both India and Pakistan. The portion of the State to be so reconstituted shall be determined through an internationally supervised ascertainment of the wishes of the Kashmiri people on either side of the Line of Control. This ascertainment would follow agreement among India, Pakistan, and representatives of the Kashmiri people to move forward with this proposal. The sovereignty of the new entity would be guaranteed by India, Pakistan, and appropriate international bodies.
The new entity would have its own secular, democratic constitution, as well as its own citizenship, flag, and a legislature, which would legislate on all matters other than defense and foreign affairs. India and Pakistan would be responsible for the defense of the Kashmiri entity, which would itself maintain police and gendarme forces for internal law and order purposes. India and Pakistan would be expected to work out financial arrangements for the Kashmiri entity, which could include a currency of its own.
Kashmiri citizenship would also entitle such citizens to acquire Indian or Pakistani passports (depending on which side of the Line of Control they live on). Alternatively, they could use entity passports subject to endorsement by India or Pakistan as appropriate.
The borders of Kashmir with India and Pakistan would remain open for the free transit of people, goods, and services in accordance with arrangements to be worked out between India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiri entity.
While the present Line of Control would remain in place until such time as both India and Pakistan decided to alter it in their mutual interest, both India and Pakistan would demilitarize the area included in the Kashmir entity, except to the extent necessary to maintain logistic support for forces outside the State that could not otherwise be effectively supplied. Neither India nor Pakistan could place troops on the other side of the Line of Control without the permission of the other state.
All displaced persons, including Kashmiri Pandits, who left any portion of the Kashmir entity, shall have the right to return to their homesteads.
The proposal represents a practical framework that could satisfy the interests of the people of Kashmir, India, and Pakistan. It would end civil strife and the tragic destruction of life and property in Kashmir. By resolving the principal issue that could lead to armed conflict between India and Pakistan, it would go far towards relaxing political tensions in South Asia. It would offer enormous economic benefits not only to Kashmir, but also to India, Pakistan, and all of the South Asia region.
Livingston, New York