At the end of the visit, we can sum up the position of two sides as:
India: Stop supporting terrorism, build upon CBMs like buses, trains, visa regulations, free trade etc. to increase people-to-people link, no re-drawing of borders.
Pakistan: Solve the Kashmir issue first, think out of the box to solve this issue, supports the "struggle for independence" of Jihadis, rest(CBMs) come later.
Well, nothing new in these views/policies. Both sides have failed over the last 58 years to recognize the problem of Kashmiris. I really feel that both sides should think out of the box to sort out this issue, with an active participation of Kashmiris. Here are certain issues that have been constantly neglected/forgotten/hidden by two sides:
- Kashmirs (Indian and POK) are one of the most backward provinces in terms of economy, infrastructure and various social indices. Unemployment is a huge problem, tourism is suffering due to the state of insurgency, industrial growth is lackluster, and corruption is paramount. There can be several reasons for this situation, apart from the demographic disadvantage. Lack of planning, prolonged militancy, insecurity, etc. But the most important reason for me is the lack of participation of the locals in governance. We will never know whether people go out willingly to vote or at a gun-point. Both governments have failed to take locals in confidence.
- Demographic, religious, and cultural divisions of Kashmir in the form of Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh regions. The basic rule of Religious majority, which was followed at the time of independence does not hold any more due to widespread migration of Hindu pandits.
- Lack of "proper" representative of Kashmiri people. Hurriyat no longer enjoys clout in Kashmir. Kashmiris lack a strong presence on negotiation tables in Delhi/Islamabad. I must clearly state that the Central Governments at Delhi/Islamabad DON'T represent Kashmiris.
- Most importantly, what does a common man in Jammu, Srinagar think about the issue? Keeping aside my patriotic feelings, I feel that a large section of people in Kashmir feel themselves closer to Pakistan owing to cultural, religious, historical and emotional reasons.
These solutions require strong political will from both the sides. It's amazing how the fate of about 5 million Kashmiris lies in the hands of other 950 million Indians, most of whom don't understand the issue at all! It is this set of people who will immediately question the patriotism of the person proposing such solutions.
If a political party thinks out of the box, and takes a risk, history will be made. Sure, it may loose next elections or even after that. There might be a "wave" against it, But, have confidence in the new generation. New generation is eagerly waiting for this issue to be solved, so that concentration is on improving the standard of living of people, instead of # of submarines other country possesses. This generation is the one which will ensure that the party returns to power 5-10 years henceforth. The stakes are high, benefits are higher.