There can be no redrawing of borders between India and Pakistan and any solution to Kashmir issue should ensure that Line of Control (LoC) be "like a border", S K Lambah, Special envoy of the outgoing Prime Minister, today said.
"After three wars and long periods of disagreements, it is essential that any agreement must ensure that the Line of Control is like a border between any two normal states. There can be no redrawing of borders," he said addressing a seminar here. Lambah also advocated free movement of people from Jammu and Kashmir across the Line of Control, besides steps to enhance trade between the divided parts of the state.
"In accordance with the normal acceptable behaviour between nations, it is imperative that the people of J&K on either side of the Line of Control should be able to move freely from one side to the other. This is particularly essential as on both sides of the Line of Control live not only the same ethnic groups but also divided families," he said.
Lambah said the process of progressive removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers in specified locally produced goods has to be expedited to ensure meaningful trade between the two sides of the LoC. "The essential prerequisite is that there has to be an end to hostility, violence and terrorism," he added.
Lambah said a solution to Kashmir issue will substantially enhance India's security and strengthen the prospects for durable peace and stability in the region and enable New Delhi to focus more on rapidly emerging long term geopolitical challenges. "It will relieve the burden that our security forces have to shoulder in terms of lives and resources and could boost the Indian economy," he said.
Lambah said resolution of the Kashmir issue will also enable Pakistan to contribute to the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to their progress and prosperity. "These expected gains from a solution may not be automatic and will require sustained efforts. But, if it opens the door to new future for India and Pakistan, without compromising our security, integrity and constitutional framework, it is worth pursuing," Lambah said.
"The alternative is status quo of a festering problem and lingering tragedy that will keep us from realising our potential," he added. The seminar -- 'Discussion between India and Pakistan on J&K- A Historical Perspective' – was organised by the Institute of Kashmir Studies, University of Kashmir. Lambah said New Delhi and Islamabad have been working to seek a solution to the Kashmir issue, and claimed these efforts have gathered momentum without the knowledge or involvement of any third party.
He said the Kashmir issue was a product of the circumstances at the time of the birth of India and Pakistan's coming into being in the name of religion. He admitted that Kashmir issue has consumed enormous political, economic and diplomatic resources. "It has consumed enormous political, economic and diplomatic resources and remains to this day one of our national security preoccupations," he added.
Lambah said successive Prime Ministers of India have made resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue a priority and hailed the efforts of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I K Gujral and Manmohan Singh to settle the Kashmir issue. "I have had the privilege of working with six Prime Ministers of India on matters relating to Pakistan in the last 35 years. Each one of them had given priority to improving relations with Pakistan. At the highest level of the government, there has always been interest, readiness and resolve. This has helped us to move forward," he said.
While ruling out war or violence as means to resolve Kashmir issue, Lambah said a solution will remain elusive if the two countries keep harping on their stated positions. ".... as the past six decades have clearly shown, the Kashmir issue cannot be settled by war, force or violence. A solution will also remain elusive if we keep harping on positions that have failed to resolve the problem in the past," he said.
Lambah said we have to look for ideas that are practical, workable and acceptable. "We can also learn some useful lessons from the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration," he said.