Neither a Hawk, Nor a Dove, a book written by the former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri outlines the contours of the well known four point formula for the settlement of Kashmir. Kasuri who is in India launching his book talks about how tantalisingly close the two countries were to pull off a Kashmir solution before the lawyers agitation in Pakistan swept Musharraf out of power. Though four point formula has for long been a part of India-Pakistan discourse on Kashmir and its broad outlines are a common knowledge, Neither a Hawk, Nor a Dove adds depth and detail to what has been known about the promising, prolonged negotiations and the back channel contact through 2003-07.
For example, Kasuri writes that the two countries were putting finishing touches to the agreement by the time Musharraf lost his grip on power towards the end of 2007. It was around September-October in the year that the former prime minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to travel to Islamabad to sign the deal. The contemplated solution no border re-adjustment, demilitarization, self-governance, and joint mechanism between divided parts of Kashmir was a win-win for both the countries with almost all of the Kashmiri political opinion excepting Geelani on board.
As the book now reveals, Pakistan had agreed to withdraw troops from Pakistan Administered Kashmir after India demanded a quid pro quo for doing the same on this side of the border. The neighbours had agreed to conclude an agreement within one year over reduction of troops and the process of demilitarization.
On Self-Governance for Kashmir, India had insisted that it would only guarantee that quantum to territories under its control as Pakistan granted to PaK. The two countries had agreed that within one year of the agreement, India and Pakistan would conclude a charter of principles regarding self-governance and that the nature and quantum of self-governance would be the same on the each side.
And when it came to defining the units of J&K for solution, New Delhi made it clear that any solution to the dispute over J&K will have to include all the territories in J&K, including the Northern Areas. And Pakistan, after some reluctance owing to its serious strategic interests in the area decided to go along with Indias demand.
The rest is, as they say, the history. The agreement was not to be. The lawyers agitation and Musharrafs slipping grip on power towards the end of 2007 ensured that the agreement remained confined to non-papers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs expected visit to Pakistan to sign the deal was indefinitely put off and never again seriously contemplated. In August 2008, Musharraf exited the scene and the backchannel couldnt be sustainably re-established since.
And as for the joint mechanism between two parts of Kashmir is concerned, the only thing that had yet to be worked out is the manner of the presence and association of the members of the two countries with the mechanism. The joint mechanism, it had already been decided, would consist of a specified number of elected members from each of the two parts of the state.
At a time when the Indo-Pak dialogue is stalled and the relationship has soured, the Kasuris book is a nostalgic reminder of how close the two countries had come to a settlement of the single-most source of their long-standing bitterness, Kashmir. It is also a reminder of what is possible if the two countries pursue talks with sincerity and a sense of purpose: There is every hope that the issues as intractable as Kashmir could be resolved to the satisfaction of all its parties. Kasuri at the launch of his book in Delhi has called for a renewed back-channel engagement between the neighbours. One hopes against hope, his advice is heeded by the new regime in Delhi.
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