Self-rule fundamentally bad and retrograde doctrine
by Hari Om on 08 Oct 2009 1 Comment

People’s Democratic Party leaders, including Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti, have unleashed a no-holds-barred propaganda blitz to enlist the people’s support in favour of their self-rule doctrine. They are seeking to convince everyone that self-rule doctrine not only has the potential of defusing tensions between India and Pakistan, and ending the ongoing violence in Kashmir and resolving the Kashmir issue, but it has also the potential of ending regional tensions in the state as the doctrine has inbuilt mechanism that prevents any region of the state from dominating and exploiting another.

It can be said without any hesitation that the self-rule doctrine is fundamentally bad, reactionary, retrograde and highly injurious to the vital interests of India and its people in Jammu & Kashmir. It is nothing but a replica of the two-nation theory that resulted into the communal partition of India in 1947 and consumed millions of lives.

The self rule doctrine, like the greater autonomy doctrine of the National Conference, means another charter of bondage as far as the people of Jammu and Ladakh are concerned, recognition of communalism and extremism, great concession to terrorists, ability of Pakistan to share equal powers with India in Jammu and Kashmir, negation of all that the Indian nation did during the past six decades to integrate the state into India and dismember of balkanization of India.

It also means the emergence of a system under which New Delhi would have no power whatsoever in the state. Self-rule, like greater autonomy, means the state’s independence and a return to the medieval ages known for barbarism, oppression, intolerance, conversions and destruction of Indian symbols of civilization.

This is no exaggeration. The implications of self-rule suggest that there is no fundamental difference between what People’s Democratic Party leaders are advocating and what Islamabad is seeking to achieve. I will quote verbatim what former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed (who led the Indian delegation to the United States in November 2006) said at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC, on November 12.

He said: “In all these circumstances – Indian, Pakistani, international – the only view-point that has not unfortunately been adequately highlighted is the people of Jammu & Kashmir (read Kashmiri Muslims, especially Sunni Muslims). There is, of course, the argument for the inclusion of the people of Jammu & Kashmir into the resolution process to ensure that India and Pakistan do not walk away from the bilateral talks. The problem is that the heterogeneity of views in Jammu and Kashmir has become an easy excuse for their exclusion”.

He further said: “Conceptually, the challenge in Jammu & Kashmir is to integrate the region without disturbing the extent of sovereign authority over delimited territorial space. There is no need to negate the significance of the LoC as territorial divisions, but it is imperative to negate its acquired and imputed manifestation of state competition for power, prestige, or an imagined historical identity. The idea is to retain the former and change the latter. Therein lies the key to the solution of Jammu & Kashmir dispute.” The meaning is clear. How ridiculous, provocative, dangerous and unsettling is this formulation of the Mufti!

Mufti Sayeed did not stop here. He added: “The operational challenge in Jammu and Kashmir is to establish innovative institutional arrangements that have a political, economic and security character. The two countries – India and Pakistan – have to resolve the very difficult problem of ‘domestic’ integration within a split international political and economic structure. Our basic premise is that the search for solution to the issue of Jammu & Kashmir is the search for an inter-nation state, but still has a supra-national basis. To put issue in analytical terms, we have to find ways and means of ‘sharing sovereignty’ (with Pakistan). This makes it ‘more than alliance’ (where alliance means that a group of nations forms a selective agreement without the need of giving up relevant pieces of sovereignty). In view of the past history, the stated positions and the emotional surcharge, a one-point-one-time solution for resolution of the conflict is a near impossibility. What is required is a sequence of measures, which would resolve the situation. These initiatives need to be less dramatic and insightful. What is needed is a practical step-by-step extrication of the state from the tragic muddle. But it should not be a matter merely of atmospherics, either.”

He further said in Washington DC: “At a practical level, it should be obvious that the Jammu & Kashmir issue cannot be solved exclusively on an inter-state level (i.e., within India or within Pakistan). It requires a combination of intra-state (across India and Pakistan) and inter-state (within Jammu & Kashmir and cross-Line of Control) measures. Thus, it would seem prudent to advocate a three-step approach to the resolution of the issue - introducing fundamental principles of a solution, which would reduce uncertainty and provide a ‘road-map.’ Creating a dual power-sharing arrangement which would be based on equal relationship between the people of Jammu and Kashmir… and combining this power-sharing arrangement with regional and national integration.”                

Mufti told CSIS: “Our aim is not to discuss the complexities of history and geo-politics, but, instead, to shift focus to more practical issue. It is argued that the solution of the Jammu & Kashmir issue must be built on three essential elements: (1) introduction of clearly defined fundamental principles on which the solution must be based; (2) creation of a proper system of integration between arrangements; and (3) combining of this arrangement into the framework of Indian and Pakistan polity… This approach, which is underlying the concept of self-rule, is the only way that could eliminate the sources of ethno-territorial conflicts, entrenched in the traditional notions of sovereignty, self-determination, national and ethnic borders”.

The resolution on self-rule adopted by the People’s Democratic Party Executive Committee, held under Mufti Sayeed, in Jammu on February 11, 2007, also says the same thing and demands withdrawal of the Indian Constitution from Jammu & Kashmir.

In this regard, the resolution said: “People’s Democratic Party recognizes that the people of the state (reads Kashmiri Muslims), unlike other states, which acceded with the Union of India, were assured and promised internal sovereignty and self-rule by allowing the state to have its own constituent assembly, its own constitution and flag and a vast degree of self-governance (read semi-independence). This was reflected in Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Unfortunately, this Article, which was meant to be a bridge between the Union of India and the State of Jammu and Kashmir, has been used as one way window to undermine the internal sovereignty of the state and subvert the ideal of self-governance promised to the people of the state. The successive governments of Jammu & Kashmir, unfortunately, were parties to this subversion of self-rule of the people of the state. Consequently, many aberrations have taken place in the originally conceived and devised constitutional arrangement with the Union of India. In particular, self-rule was denied to people, by depriving them (of) the opportunity to freely express their political verdict or by thwarting their verdict when given…People’s Democratic Party resolves to correct these distortions and aberrations that have crept in self-rule, as part of its comprehensive formula to resolve the Kashmir issue.”

The resolution, among several other controversial and provocative things, also said: “The use of force is no substitute for a policy of engagement and dialogue. Armed forces are meant for extraordinary situations and crisis. They are not meant to find solutions to political problems. People’s Democratic Party has, in a previous resolution, called upon the Government of India to reduce the strength of armed forces, engaged in anti-militancy operations…The local police battalions can be raised to meet the challenge of internal security and to fight militants…The Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be withdrawn as conditions have substantially improved in the state and resort to use of this legislation is proving counter-productive and detrimental to the peace process and dialogue…”

The message of the People’s Democratic Party leaders is loud and clear. The message is that it wants a dispensation that is outside the Indian constitutional framework, with India and Pakistan sharing sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir, plus the state’s demilitarization. This is unacceptable. What is needed is that all right-thinking people and the authorities in New Delhi must combat the pernicious self-rule doctrine.

Not just this, the greater autonomy doctrine of the National Conference, with which the Congress is sharing power in the state and at the Centre, has also to be combated because the implication of the autonomy concept and self-rule doctrine are the same. The only difference is that while the National Conference calls it internal autonomy, the People’s Democratic Party calls it internal sovereignty.

We are a secular country. We just can’t afford to endorse such dubious, communal and unsettling formulations as are being put forth by the Kashmir-based parties.

The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu

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