Contours for a resolution to the Kashmir conflict

The Synergia Foundation organised a Roundtable discussion on “Contours for a Resolution to the Kashmir Conflict” on May 3, 2019. The event was chaired by Maj Gen Moni Chandi (Retd), Chief Strategic Officer of Synergia Foundation. The Roundtable was attended by several experienced professionals including security experts, civil servants, service officers, business personnel and academics. The objective was to bring policymakers, executives and experts from various fields to analyse the viability of a proposed solution to the Kashmir Conflict.

Background

Maj Gen Chandi is a retired Indian Army officer, and former Inspector General of the elite National Security Guard.

The Kashmir conflict commenced in 1947 with the independence of India and Pakistan. In the last 72 years, there have been at least four overt conflicts and, since 1989, a systematically waged low-intensity conflict. This has reduced India’s Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) to a police state.

The absence of even the prospect of a resolution has added to the woes of the youth, who despair for the future. Consequently, there is a steady increase in intolerance within the youth and the gradual transformation of traditional Kashmiri Sufism towards Wahhabism. For most young people of the state, the history of the conflict is not as consequential as the need to move on; resolve the dispute and bring much-needed peace, development and economic prosperity. 

Analysis

Kashmir has been a bone of contention for India and Pakistan since 1947, and no viable solution has been suggested till date. To focus the discussion on possible solutions, a game-theory approach was adopted. It was suggested that participants gauge end-states in terms of ‘zero-sum’ and ‘non-zero-sum’ gain. Nine stakeholders in India and Pakistan were identified and discussed. The four Pakistan-based stakeholders are the Government of Pakistan; the residents of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (Valley) and Gilgit-Baltistan; and Pakistan-based Jihadi Organisations. The five India-based stakeholders are the Government of India; the residents of India Administered Kashmir (Valley), Ladakh and Jammu; and Kashmiri Pandits. 

Six end-states were discussed namely the Chenab Formula, Implementing the Accession, Independent Kashmir, Shimla Agreement, Autonomous Kashmir and the Andorran Solution. It was brought out that the first five end-states had ‘zero-sum’ gains and only the sixth end-state (Andorran Solution) provided ‘non-zero-sum’ gain. 

The Principality of Andorra, between France and Spain, gained its autonomy in 1278. Around 1100, a dispute arose between the Count of Foix (in France), and the Bishop of Urgell (in Catalonia, Spain). This conflict was resolved in 1278, with Andorra's sovereignty shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Urgell. Since then, Andorra has had protection from both France and Spain. The Andorran Solution recommends autonomous status to a unified J&K; however, the state would have no external personality with India and Pakistan being jointly responsible for foreign affairs and defence. 

The primary advantages of the Andorran Solution are; no loss of face to either India or Pakistan, no changes in the maps of India and Pakistan, conformity to Indian & Pakistani Constitutions, keeping with the spirit of the Shimla Agreement and the reunification of the peoples of J&K. The participants at the Roundtable were unanimous that the Andorran Solution had the potential to create consensus amongst all stakeholders. 

Counterpoint

However, there are some challenges to implementing the Andorran solution. Firstly, would politicians in India, Pakistan and J&K be mature enough to understand and accept the benefits the solution offers? Secondly, would some elements in Pakistani leadership that still want revenge for the defeat in the 1971 war, sabotage the peace proposal? Thirdly, would extremist elements in India’s polity advocate for the segregation of the Kashmir Valley, in violation of our Constitution and the ‘Idea of India’?

Assessment

Our assessment is that the Andorran solution is a viable plan for the Kashmir Conflict. We believe that a plan based on the Andorran solution would allow the re-unification of the people of Kashmir, while bringing peace, development and economic prosperity to its youth. We firmly believe that the Paris Peace negotiations (1968-1973) held to discuss an end for the Vietnam War are a feasible model to address the complexity of the Kashmir conflict. However, we also believe that the stakeholders have to be mature enough to accept the terms of any solution agreed on and remain committed to its implementation. We also feel that the first step for all the stakeholders is to be willing to discuss and negotiate it as a potential solution.