Date: 12/12/2005


What's cooking on J&K? //// Kanchan Gupta / New Delhi http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=front%5Fpage&file_name=story1%2Etxt&counter_img=1?headline=What's~cooking~on~J&K? 10th Dec 2005 //// Is something cooking on Jammu & Kashmir of which little is known in India right now? It would seem so from reports emanating from Pakistan and Mecca where the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) met for a two-day conclave of heads of state. //// Late last week, Pakistani newspapers went to town declaring, in near-similar stories, that "the US has sanctified the proposal of 'United States of Kashmir' and (urged) Pakistan and India to find solution to the core issue within the parameters laid down in this plan forwarded by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq" of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. //// The 'United States of Kashmir' plan, a brainchild of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, proposes a "federal structure of governance in the five regions of Kashmir" - Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, Jammu, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas. //// The plan also envisages "a united Assembly or Parliament for these five areas with both Pakistan and India having joint control over it." The entire region would be demilitarised with both India and Pakistan pulling out their troops now deployed in Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. ///// For all practical purposes, the 'United States of Kashmir' would be a sovereign entity and a fruition of the separatists' dream of 'Azad Kashmir'. In brief, it is independence by another name. //// Quoting official sources, The Nation reported, "Washington has conveyed its blessing to the 'United States of Kashmir' plan both to Islamabad and New Delhi recently through diplomatic channels." This Pakistani newspaper claimed that "a high-level delegation of US Congressmen, which visited Pakistan and India few days back, discussed the plan in detail with the top leadership in two South Asian capitals." //// A US Congressional delegation did visit New Delhi and Islamabad recently. It was headed by Mr Dan Burton, a senior member of the US Congress and an influential voice in the House Committee on International Relations. He is vice-chairman of the sub-committee on Asia and Pacific. ///// Mr Burton, widely acknowledged as no friend of India, has in the past repeatedly tried to push anti-India legislation and block US assistance. Few would remember this today, but during the bloody days of terrorism in Punjab, he was a vocal critic of India's handling of the problem and openly flaunted his pro-separatist stance.//// While in New Delhi, Mr Burton and the other Congressional Representatives met Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. During this meeting, he is said to have briefed them afresh about the 'United States of Kashmir' plan. The Mirwaiz also sought direct and pro-active American involvement in pushing through this plan as "a permanent solution to the festering Jammu & Kashmir dispute".///// The US Congressional delegation, it is believed, tried to draw Indian officials into a detailed discussion on the 'United States of Kashmir' proposal. But the US Congressmen were politely told that the proposal is a non-starter. In Islamabad, the Burton delegation later put out in the media that "New Delhi has so far not come up with any clear position on the vital idea."//// Interestingly, the Burton delegation was "informed in Islamabad about Pakistan's willingness to accept Mirwaiz's plan." It was also put out in the Pakistani media that "the US Congressmen would brief the senior officials of the Bush Administration on the outcome of their visits to Pakistan and India... All this shows that the Bush Administration is keen to play an active role in the resolution of the Kashmir issue and in the coming days we will see more engagements in this regard by the top US officials." //// 000000000