Enhanced Cross-LoC contacts only way to peace, stability: Report

By News Agency of Kashmir

Jammu: Close to the heels of Indo-Pak agreement on Trans-LoC trade, a first ever comprehensive report, based on survey and opinion-interviews with stakeholders on both sides of divides, says that making borders irrelevant by enhanced public interactions and trade across line of control can pave way for lasting peace and stability in the region as none of the options discussed so far can reach at a consensus in India, Pakistan or among people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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The report which is cover feature of Jammu based current affairs magazine Epilogue’s October issue, reveals that an overwhelming majority of 83% people surveyed on both sides are unanimous in their understanding that enhanced cross-LoC contacts and not the options discussed, demanded or supported so far-including total to partial independence, autonomy, referendum, partition or even maintaining status quo-can bring lasting peace and stability in the region. The strategy of making borders orders irrelevant, says the report, is a compromise between elimination of LoC and its conversion into an international Border. Under this approach the LoC would be retained as a dividing line but softened by allowing easy movement of people, goods and services across it. While these steps enable the parties to manage Kashmir conflict without having to agree to a final settlement. The softening of LoC would satisfy the Indian stand of no alteration of borders while another advantage from the Indian government’s perspective is that it skirts the dangers of encouraging other states in Indian Union to demand greater autonomy or self-rule. “Were Kashmir to be granted greater autonomy or self rule, similar demands could be voiced by other states in the union which would need to e conceded on grounds of equity”, says the report.

Similarly, in Pakistan, says the report, any solution on permanent division of J&K is anathema to the military and major political parties. Therefore, the Pakistani government and the militant are unwilling to accept any solution that coverts LoC into international Border. “However, consciousness that neither India not Pakistan can gain control mover whole of Jammu and Kashmir by either war or diplomacy, Pakistani officials favour the idea of making LoC irrelevant”, says the report.

The survey was conducted on both sides of Line of Control to elicit the opinion of various interested group – including businessmen, members of the media, academics former government of the making public at large – regarding their attitudes towards peace process, their understanding of the making borders irrelevant and their thought on what could be done to advance the peace process. On the Indian side, the survey was conducted in the summer and fall of 2007 in 12 towns in J&K, with 25 respondents in each town being chosen at random from among the local population. There was a smaller sample from Pakistani side where survey was conducted in Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Rawalakote.

Special endowed to Epilogue magazine, the study commissioned by USIP’s center for conflict Mediation and Resolution draws the results of a Survey together with initial draft of present report were shown to a group of opinion makes in both countries whose comments were taken into account in refining the report’s conclusion.