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Is Musharraf’s Four Point Formula A Way Forward?

Four-Point Formula Hangover

Some diplomats and journalists are still reeling under it

 Z.G. Muhammad



In August 1998, General Pervez Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan. Nine years after, some of the former diplomats and journalists of Pakistan continue to suffer from the hangover of his four-point formula on Kashmir. In their estimation, this half-baked formula that for all purposes surrenders the right to self-determination pledged to people of the state by India and guaranteed by the United Nations is the only solution for the resolution of the Kashmir Dispute.


A leading Pakistan newspaper Dawn carried an article ‘Kashmir talks: reality & myth’ by Riaz Mohammad Khan (September 11, 2017). The author has been a carrier diplomat, who worked as Foreign Secretary of the country from 2005 and retired from the same position in 2008. It has been the period of gestation and abortion of the much-trumpeted Musharraf formula on Kashmir.     He also served as Pakistan’s envoy for “back channel” diplomacy with India during the Pakistan Peoples Party government under President Asif Ali Zardari from 2009 to 2012. Since, the back channel deliberations are rarely publicized- except some selective leaks, so it will be difficult to say if Musharraf formula continued to be part of the back channel engagements between India and Pakistan   during the government of Asif Ali Zardari.


In his well-articulated article, the former Pakistan diplomat makes some important points and at the same time errs on certain facts, thus fails to recognize the commitment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir across the dividing line to their cause- the cause of right to self-determination and sacrifices offered for the same for past seventy years. Some of the important points that he makes do need to be reproduced as they provide an insight into the vacillating Kashmir policy of various governments in Pakistan. Talking about how a discussion about Kashmir in Islamabad ‘sometimes meander into security considerations or the need to protect water sources or the need to protect water sources, that Kashmir has tied down over half million Indian troops; and that Pakistan must remove an existential threat by securing control of rivers which pass through Kashmir.” He rightly says that ‘these are false arguments. Kashmiri sacrifices and suffering must not be viewed through the prism of our security; it will knock out the moral basis of Pakistan position, suggesting that we are not interested in a just political settlement.’ Kashmir problem undoubtedly is not dispute over sharing of water resources between the countries- it could be one of the fallouts of the perpetuation of the Dispute but the real issue is granting of the right to self-determination to the people of the State as it stood on 14 August 1947. Nonetheless, the former diplomat holding the highest office in Pakistan Foreign Office errs when he writes that as “for rivers, maps show that the upper reaches of the Indus and the Chenab lie in Ladakh and Jammu respectively, the two non-Muslim majority regions which are unlikely to accede to Pakistan under any scenario.”

The right to self-determination has not accrued to people of Jammu and Kashmir on the Indian side of the Cease Fire Line/ LOC only but also to the people on the other side of the line, so it would be wrong to build an argument on a wrong demographic premise. ‘In terms of religious affiliations before 14 August 1947, the percentage of Muslims in the population was 93.45 percent in Kashmir valley, 61.35 in Jammu province and 86.7 percent in the Frontier region that included Ladakh and Gilgit.’ As rightly pointed out by Jammu based researcher Luv Puri in 1947, ‘Jammu was Muslim majority province became a Hindu majority region,’ in two months period.  Many Western writers like Ian Stephens have recorded, how it was made to happen by the state by massacring hundreds of thousands of Muslims and driving them out of their homes through intimidation and terror and pushing them across the border for living lives of refugees.  Nonetheless, under the international law, they have every right to return to their land, even the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir recognizes their right.


The author rightly has a dig at the Pakistan government in not forcefully agitating before the United Nations for its lackadaisical attitude towards seeing its resolution on Kashmir executed in letter and spirit and working towards grave human rights violations in Kashmir. “I do not recall any proposal for a resolution or initiative received from our UN missions since 1993 when a resolution was moved and then withdrawn in the Human Rights Council.” The withdrawal of resolution on Kashmir in the Human Rights Council at the bidding and assurance of Akbar Hashmi Rafsanjani, Former President of Iran by Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was yet another trap laid by New Delhi in which she walked blindly.   


Despite, choosing describing the Musharraf formula as ‘so-called”, the former foreign secretary during his term in office provides some flesh to the skeleton formula that former President of Pakistan mentions in his autobiography ‘In The Line of Fire’ (P 303). He tells us the formula was centered on a provisional arrangement for self-governance within sub-regions of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and much of the text was, however, agreed through exchanges spread over two years, including sections on self-governance, intra-region movement and trade and economic activity. Sub-regions were supposed to have similar systems with their own administration, security, legislatures, police and law-enforcement agencies, in other words, optimum autonomy. He further tells that joint mechanism related to specified issues such as international treaties (the Indus Water Treaty), connectivity and travel and demilitarization needed further work. The last draft was received from the Indian interlocutor in March 2007.’


Mr. Riaz is not only Pakistan diplomat who continue to suffer from the Musharraf formula syndrome there is the host of them, who have been engaged on track two dialogue at various forums  even after the end of Musharraf Rule.  In this column, in the past, when debate on this formula was very hot I had expressed couple of times my reservations about this formula to the annoyance of a section of leaders on our side of the LOC. Let me reiterate, the formula denies the right to self-determination to the people of the State, in reality, divides the state on the linguistic and racial and regional basis. Moreover in reality perpetuated the status quo.

Published in Greater Kashmir on 18-09-2017

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