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Updated on March 11, 2018

The devastating incident of 9/11 terrorism act has changed dimensions of different regional and global disputes. It highlighted once again the possibility of clash of civilizations/ religions and has given new dimensions to different conflict resolutions in the world. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US and the consequent US-led war on terrorism in Afghanistan, the Kashmir dispute had finally internationalized. Islamabad always wanted Kashmiri self-determination to be internationalized so that the Kashmiri could decide their fate through plebiscite in the light of UN resolution. However, when the internationalization of Kashmir has finally occurred as a result of recurrent standoffs in India-Pakistan relations, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US. It is the Jihadi Terrorism that has come to characterize the Kashmiri struggle especially after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1373 on 28 September 2001

The American obsession with Kashmir has not been persistent for the last fifty years or so. United States has applied different labels to the Kashmir issue from 'self- determination' to 'aspiration of the Kashmiri people' to being 'a nuclear flash-point' endangering international security'. In the aftermath of 9/11, attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 and re-action by the Indians, USA has called up an end to Jihadi groups The constantly changing stance of the United States is reflective of the fact that the United States stand on the Kashmir issue is flexible and is dependent on two factors at a given point in time:-

a . Level / nature of Indo - US relations.

b . Relevance of Pakistan for United States strategic interest in the region.

Emerging International Interest over Kashmir Issue and Conflict Resolution. Much of the danger of the continued conflict over Kashmir stems from its potential to spark a much broader conventional war and even a nuclear exchange. This poses a serious threat to international peace and security, and global economic and social stability. The international community has therefore an interest in the settlement of bilateral disputes between Pakistan and Indian in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter. The interest of the international community has been established by resolution 1172, which urges Pakistan and India to address the root cause of their tensions so that any confrontation leading to nuclear exchange can be avoided.

The end of the Cold War at the superpower level created opportunities for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Some of the intractable conflicts, which had destabilized global peace and security during the Cold War years, were resolved. Many examples in this regard can be quoted both from cold war era and post cold war era like Korea (1951-54), Indo-China (1969-73), Cambodia (1986-92), South Africa (1990-94), Afghanistan (1982-88, during the Soviet military occupation), The Middle East (between Egypt and Israel 1977-79, PLO-Israel 1991-Todate, Israel-Jordan 1991-94 and Israel-Syria 1991-Todate), Northern Ireland (1994-1998) and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Some of these disputes have been resolved and some are on the way of resolution. In present day era, international community promotes the resolutions through dialogue. In all the above quoted examples, most of the parties had rigid view points and it was difficult to resolve the issue, but with the help of external and internal pressure parties have agreed to resolve the issue. On the above mentioned analogy and history of conflict resolution, Pakistan and India can strive to resolve the less disputed issues initially.

The nature of the dispute we find is not as complex as in case of Kashmir. Disputes in Europe were mainly because of balance of power, some other were territorial or due to religious differences. In Africa mostly ethnic or linguistic differences had been the cause of conflicts. There has never been a period in history which has not witnessed violent conflicts. At the same time there have always been sages, prophets, poets and Sufis who preached love, peace and harmony. Although both trends have co-existed, violence and conflict dominate our collective memory.

As far as Kashmir is concerned, it has multidimensional aspects. At present, the Kashmir is no more a regional or a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan; rather it is being seen as an international conflict. The resolution to Kashmir conflict can best be described in the words of Christopher Mitchel :-

“Much of conflict research over the last decade has concentrated on the problems of managing and resolving protracted disputes through familiar topics such as de-escalation, various stages of negotiation, and the role of the third party in reaching agreement. One relatively recent, if seemingly obvious, innovation has been to treat all of these (and other) procedures as part of an overall, independent ‘peace process’, which may eventually arrive at a satisfactory resolution of deep-rooted conflicts and at a transformation of the relationship between adversaries.”

Such an approach has been used to resolve the Arab-Israel conflict in the Middle East and the US-Soviet confrontation. So, here we find a strong linkage between the peace process and conflict resolution, cases of present days conflict like fighting between Taliban Government and Northern Alliance in Afghanistan reached a point where efforts for peace-building could not take off unless the parties involved in that conflict expressed the political will to initiate a process of dialogue. Unlike Afghanistan, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Northern Ireland, endeavors for conflict resolution reached a point of success as a result of a process of negotiations and talks, open and secret, which ultimately paved the way for the cessation of hostilities among the warring groups. Based on these facts, the peace process and conflict resolution are inseparable. The peace process is used as a means to accomplish an end, i.e. the resolution of a conflict. Tools and techniques used in the two approaches overlap and also contradict each other.

After the analysis of above mentioned theories, the possible conceptual frame work for the resolution of Kashmir issue has to be built around the dialogue between Pakistan, India and the Kashmiri people. Mare application of one theory cannot address the complex issue of Kashmir. It has to be a process including all the tools offered by different theorists. The peace process has to be initiated in wholesome manner which should include number of steps.

a . Creating a congenial climate and conducive atmosphere is indeed extremely essential for two hostile countries to initiate some form of communication. Admittedly, angry words or tough statements are also a form of communication reflecting negativism but for a constructive approach it is somewhat necessary to create a climate in which both parties feel comfortable enough to put their own point of view on the table. Statements with dual objectives should be avoided as such statements can be misinterpreted and inject undesired obstacles.

b . The second most important prerequisite to target complex issues is to recognize ground realities. Kashmir is a dispute which both nations inherited because the British either deliberately or inadvertently, failed to resolve before departing from the subcontinent. It is not a border dispute. It is somewhat fallacious to equate it with the Sino-Indian border dispute. It involves the fate of millions of Kashmiris. Perhaps the most important ground reality is that Kashmir is set for a change. What kind of change is a topic that can be negotiated keeping in view the well-acknowledged ground realities? On the one hand most Indian political pundits ostensibly are not inclined to accept that the winds of change are blowing but on the other, the optimists tend to exaggerate that the resolution is very close.

c . The third significant prerequisite that can facilitate the process deals with developing an understanding on the approaches to be adopted and the principles to be applied. Is the dispute going to be subjected to a bilateral or trilateral or multilateral approach? Apparently it seems both parties have no objection to a bilateral mechanism. However, there is need to evolve some consensus upon the principles that can lead to resolution of the dispute. The Indian foreign minister has recently mentioned that India’s relationship with Pakistan would now be governed within the framework of the Simla Agreement of 1972, the Lahore Declaration and the Joint Statement of 6 January 2004[1]. Here four basic questions are needed to be answered to make a framework:-

(1) Can the principle of self-determination provide the necessary panacea? Should the Kashmiris be involved in the process of discussion?

(2) Should the principle of partition be applied to Kashmir? Then the question that would attract attention is “partition on what basis.” Should it be on geographical/regional basis such as river lines, communal concentrations, linguistic groups or accepting the existing partition, etc?

(3) What about the principle of plebiscite? Then the haunting questions would be revolving around plebiscite in the whole state as it existed before 1947, current status of the state, regional plebiscite, and district-level plebiscite?

(4) Should the principle of third party’s involvement be considered in the event of a deadlock between the two parties? India has always opposed the involvement of a third party. The developments of the last few years clearly indicate that neither side is favorably inclined towards this option?

[1] Dawn, 2 June 2004,


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