Following the recent announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that India and Pakistan were close to a deal on Jammu and Kashmir during Parvez Musharraf’s tenure as President of the Islamic Republic, the separatist leaders in Kashmir said he (PM) was perhaps talking about the four-point formula proposed by the General-turned politician.
A senior leader of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, who pleaded anonymity, said Manmohan may have been referring to Musharraf’s plan, which was proposed during the April 2005 summit-level talks held in Delhi.
According to the four-point formula, Kashmir should have the same borders but people should be allowed to move freely across the region; the region should have self-governance or autonomy; India and Pakistan should withdraw troops from the region in a phased manner and a joint mechanism comprising representatives from India, Pakistan and Kashmir be set up to supervise the implementation of such a roadmap for Kashmir. The separatist leader, who was part of the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat delegation and had met Musharraf during his rule in Pakistan several times, said during the interactions with the General they found that he accorded due respect to Kashmir and Kashmiris.
“He (Musharraf) briefed us on the formula well in advance before suggesting it to the Indian delegation during the Delhi summit. He had taken the Kashmiri leaders on board before floating the proposal”, he said.
According to the Hurriyat leader, Musharraf told them that he wanted to break the logjam and status quo on Kashmir as the reason for coming out with the formula. However, he added that it was not the final solution to the Kashmir issue. “Musharraf had told us that his formula was a confidence building measure(CBM) and the beginning of the process of resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he said.
Further, he revealed that Musharraf had told them that his proposal can give a “sense of victory” to the Kashmiri people as the status quo on the issue can be broken. “The Kashmiri people can finally have the feeling that they have earned something,” he said.
Another separatist leader, who had met Musharraf during his visit to Delhi, said the General’s four-point formula was a great thing and it was realistic.
Acknowledging that the separatist leaders had been kept in the loop regarding the formula before it was announced he said, “There was a semblance of agreement on taking people on board. However, 100 per cent unanimity is not possible.”
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik had both opposed Musharraf’s formula. However, chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the four-point formula “a starting point for dialogue on Kashmir”.