The consensus statement issued by the participants of the Inter-regional dialogue organized by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation in Jammu.
Part A. CONCEPT NOTE
1. Relevance of the Action
1.a. Analysis of the problem
This project aims to contribute towards the transformation of the different dimensions of the Kashmir conflict with its high degree of antagonistic and often violent patterns of interactions to a stable and sustainable regime of accommodation between the different conflict groups involved. The Kashmir conflict is the single most important issue among all the conflicts in the subcontinent. The two nuclear weapon states India and Pakistan fought two full scale wars and came close to fighting another two due to Kashmir.
In 1947, the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan along a ceasefire line which came to be known as "Line of Control" (LoC). The Indian parts of the former princely state were incorporated into the Indian Union as a federal state, "Jammu & Kashmir" (subsequently referred to as J&K). This area consists of three regionally and culturally distinct parts, the predominantly Muslim populated Kashmir Valley, the predominantly Hindu populated Jammu Region, and the heterogenous mountain area of Ladakh where Buddhists form the major part of the population. The Pakistani parts of the former princely state were divided into two separate units. A small western strip forms the so-called "Azad Jammu and Kashmir" (subsequently referred to as AJK) which more formally than factually enjoys a status of autonomy. The huge mountainous area consisting mainly of the Gilgit and Baltistan Agencies of the former princely state makes up the "Northern Areas", a unit under direct administrative control of the Pakistani Government.
The Kashmir conflict contains three major dimensions which are interrelated and overlapping. The first and potentially most dangerous dimension is the bilateral conflict between India and Pakistan about the legitimate sovereignty over Kashmir which has its roots in the partition of the Indian subcontinent after the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim legitimate rights over the entire former princely state. As a side effect of this dimension, also movements striving for an independent state of Kashmir have developed over time. The second dimension reflects the different visions about the nature and the status of J&K as a federal state within the Indian Union. It materializes in political conflicts between the three distinct regions of the state. The spectrum of different political visions for the state of J&K is wide and often blurred. They include the quest for even greater autonomy of the state as is already formally guaranteed under the provisions of the Indian constitution; concepts of internal autonomy for the three regions within J&K; or even the call for a dismemberment of the state as such. The range of different visions and preferences among separatist and secessionist groups as well as the different forms of Pakistani involvement in these "internal affairs" of an Indian federal state are the main reasons for the interrelation and overlapping of different dimensions of the conflict. The third dimension, finally, refers to cleavages among the population of the Pakistani portion of the former princely state as well as to a regulation of the still provisional status of AJK and the Northern Areas, i.e. their relation to the Pakistani state.
The first two dimensions mentioned above form the core of the conflict. They lead to regional instability, eruptions of violence, and even war-like forms of engagement between the Indian and Pakistani armies. The main theatre of the Kashmir conflict is the Kashmir Valley, and secondly the Jammu Region. In the Valley, the different conflict groups collide directly, the forms of Pakistani involvement have their most relevant impact here, and the Indian army and security forces try to control the situation with utmost severity. In the years from 1998 to 2007, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs officially counted 23,673 militancy related incidents. The security forces killed 12,398 militants recovering 94,940 weapons. Among the security forces themselves, 3,635 causalities were registered, whereas the number of casualties among civilians was 7,403. According to the International Red Cross, 1,200 persons from J&K are in prison under trials for crime related to violence in the state. A generation of youth has grown up in a climate of violence.
1.b. Needs and constraints of the region
The ceasefire and dialogue process between the governments of India and Pakistan, ongoing since 2003, and the existing democratic process had very positive effects for bringing down the level of violence and militancy. However, the political dialogue continues to have decisive limits because of the absence of a genuine representation of the Kashmiri civil societies. The nature and dimensions of the conflict demand the involvement of citizens from all parts of Kashmir.
Relationships between the different conflict actors on the level of civil society are so shattered that a simple dialogue on major concerns needs to be considered a success. Many issues need to be addressed for a sustainable transformation of the conflict. The last two decades have widened the gulf between different regions and communities. This has added to the development of the different dimensions of the conflict and made it more complex.
1.c. Specific problems to be addressed by the action
Kashmiri stakeholders on both sides of the LoC are primarily divided groups. There is no adequate platform that enables them to develop a united vision for the future of Kashmir. Due to the absence of a consensus among the Kashmiri political groups for a peaceful solution of the conflict, political decision makers are little aware of Kashmiri suggestions for the transformation of the conflict.
The people of J&K, the main conflict theatre, are divided along regional, ethnic and religious lines. This gives political actors the opportunity to exploit different identities for their own interests which creates further mistrust and hostilities among the diverse groups. There exists only minimal awareness about a peace dividend. With a prevailing gun culture on the ground people easily resort to violence. If not prevented, local violence destabilizes the environment for a sustainable peace process.
1.d. Target groups and final beneficiaries and relevance of the proposal to these groups
90 lawyers who are members of the Srinagar and Jammu Bar Associations in J&K and of the Bar Associations of Muzaffarabad and Mirpur in AJK. They are in the forefront of interpreting the nature of the dispute of the state. They are an integral part of opinion makers and their cooperation is vital for strengthening the human rights institutions.
870 civil society members (teachers, trade unionists, academics, journalists, social workers, etc.), among them 100 women (in J&K, a network of active conflict resolution groups in local areas can be tapped).
80 politicians will take part in the Indo-Pakistani dialogue.
100 local level community leaders in 20 groups, trained for sustaining peace on district level. The resolution of the conflict is foremost beneficial for all the citizens of the five regions of the former princely state of Kashmir, altogether some 11 mio people. In the final consequence, all citizens of India and Pakistan, if not of the whole of South Asia, will benefit from a transformation and settlement of the Kashmir conflict.
The dialogue process conducted at various levels among different segments of society will help in reducing antagonisms and distrust, and it will create a conducive atmosphere in which peaceful cooperation on a range of issues is likely to become possible ? in Kashmir itself, between the states of India and Pakistan, and, in consequence, in the wider region of South Asia. It will foster economic activities like tourism and border trade, joint research projects among academics of universities, exchange programs of students/teachers as well as other professionals, common projects to address environmental degradation, projects to improve health related issues, child/women/social development. The creation of a conducive atmosphere is also a precondition for the rehabilitation of victims of violence, for the return of IDP/ refugees and former militants.
1.e. Relevance of proposal to the objectives and priorities presented in the Guidelines
The proposal reflects the requirements of Lot 1 "Dialogue and mediation activities" of the current Call for Proposals. Through dialogue and the establishment of conflict mediation groups, the project seeks to create a conducive environment for peace building and the peaceful conciliation of group interests. The project will also encourage participation of citizens in local government issues. The project considers the problems of women in the conflict and provides for their representation in the discussion process as equal stake holders.
Description of the action and its effectiveness
2.a. Overall objective
The project shall contribute towards conflict transformation of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
2.b. Specific objectives
The specific objectives are:
1) To bridge regional, ethnic and religious divisions and strengthen trust between conflict actors through civil society dialogue and local conflict measures, thereby enabling civil society to develop a vision for self rule/autonomy;
2) To create awareness among Indian and Pakistani politicians about the views of Kashmiri stakeholders on both sides of the LoC regarding the transformation of the conflict
2.c. Duration: 36 months
2.d. Proposed activities
Planned activity I: Dialogue seminars/conferences
Lawyer dialogue on both sides of LoC (6 programmes)
Women dialogue on both sides of LoC (6 programmes)
Civil society dialogue on both sides of LoC (6 programmes)
Regional civil society dialogue in J&K (6 programmes)
Indo-Pakistani dialogue on “strengthening federalism in South Asia” (5 programmes)
All Indo-Pakistani dialogue activities will involve politicians.
Planned activities II: Research
Expert’s meeting to prepare two “documents on self-rule/autonomy” (10 programmes for a permanent group)
Research on “strengthening federalism in South Asia”
Research on the “impact of the Kashmir conflict on women”
Planned activities III: Creation of Conflict Mediation Groups
Meeting/trainings for 20 Conflict Mediation Group, who work closely with the administration and keep a watch on early warning signals (20 programmes)
Planned activities IV: Monitoring, evaluation and creating financial sustainability
Experts evaluation and auditing (one at mid-term and one at the end of the project)
Online Discussions for participants of the dialogue programmes to develop follow up-ideas beyond the project duration
Strategy workshop for resource mobilisation 2.d. Output to be achieved
The involvement of 1.150 participants in dialogue programmes.
Documentations of these dialogue programmes.
Two "documents on autonomy/self rule" for the different regions of the former princely state of Kashmir.
A publication on issues on “strengthening federalism” in South Asia.
A publication on the impact of the Kashmir conflict on women.
20 conflict mediation groups at the district level who are trained in peace and conflict management 2.e. Expected results:
The participants of the dialogue programmes will develop a common understanding of the major challenges for transforming the different dimensions of the violent Kashmir conflict to a stable regime of accommodation between the different conflict groups involved.
The participants will develop a model of self-rule/autonomy, which can be a core concept of conflict resolution.
Politicians from India and Pakistan will render increased support to their respective governments for steps being taken for resolution of the Kashmir conflict.
Institutional mechanisms such as the State Women’s Commission, State Human Rights Commission, Right to Information Act will be strengthened.
The Publication on “strengthening federalism in South Asia” will be a tool for understanding the concept of self rule/autonomy in the Kashmir conflict. Its knowledge will be fed into the dialogue programmes.
20 conflict mediation groups at the district level will prevent disputes from turning violent. This will stabilize the political environment for the transformation of the Kashmir conflict by local conflict prevention. 2.g. Partners and stakeholders
The project has been planned in a participatory process jointly by FNF and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR). FNF as an applicant will be responsible for monitoring, auditing, capacity building and technical support to the project, while CDR will execute the planned actions. With offices and a network of political partner in both countries, India and Pakistan, FNF will be able to tap various synergy effects. Pakistani partners will be selected based on the needs of each activity.
Based in Gurgaon, just outside the National Capital, Delhi, CDR, an NGO, formed in 2000 believes in “the process of discourse and dialogue to promote a peaceful approach to the resolution of conflict with justice and equity, and the eventual goal of reconciliation." CDR has implemented Peace Education Programmes with school teachers in J&K for several years. It has also organised women conferences on both sides of the LoC with the support of women groups to raise voices against the ongoing violence and to ensure that women’s voices are heard in the decision-making process. With the support from FNF, it worked on a regional dialogue and reconciliation process that marked in the first ever Intra-Kashmir Conference in Srinagar in July, 2005. Since then, ten Intra-Kashmir Conferences have been conducted. Highest policy makers in the governments of India and Pakistan have taken note of these activities. They appreciated the recommendations of the Intra-Kashmir Conferences.
3. Sustainability of the action
3.a. Risk Analysis
As seen in the summer of 2008, a small issue of temporary land transfer by the J&K government to a shrine board created social-political upheavals between two major regions of the state. In such a situation the project time table would be disturbed. However, even during such a crisis the need and scope for the dialogue between conflicting parties and regions will remain.
India and Pakistan have a huge trust deficit and the peace process can become hostage to terrorist attacks or the internal political situation in either India or Pakistan. Both of it would postpone dialogue activities for a short period. If it becomes difficult to carry out activities in Pakistan, Pakistani participants would be invited to participate in activities in India. Only unlikely serious crises between India and Pakistan would lead to a cessation of the project’s dialogue activities.
In India, increased violence at any point of time in J&K and other parts of the country can intimidate the target groups from participating in the dialogue programmes. As a result, a dominant section of the stakeholders might stay away from the dialogue process for a short while.
Vested interest against the transformation of the Kashmir conflict can undermine CDR’s dialogue activities by spreading false propaganda. To minimize this risk, CDR will ensure to maintain a high level of transparency.
3.b. Preconditions and Assumptions
The success of this project will be greatly enhanced by (a) the cooperation of both the Government of India and Pakistan, (b) the support of Kashmiri politicians and separatist leaders,(c) the support of the civil society stakeholders and their sense of usefulness of the project for their situation.
The project’s working environment at both the micro- and macro-levels will be the most important pre-condition for the success of this project.
The action has taken into consideration the fact that the ongoing peace process has created a peace constituency in both sides of the LoC. Also the present democratic political structures in both India and Pakistan will continue to provide space for constant evolution of the civil society sector in terms of their sophistication to analyse the policy initiatives of the governments.
Because the project reflects a participatory process, high ownership levels will be developed and are likely to continue. The creation of a network of civil society groups, drawn from various professions, with the responsibility to maintain peace in their local areas, offers a novel, decentralised means to address the regional, ethnic and religious divisions in all parts of Kashmir. During and after the project period these groups are expected to generate their own resources and continue to raise their voices at formal and informal forums. One way of institutionalising the dialogue process will be renaming the mediation groups as ‘Mohalla Committees or Neighbourhood Groups’ and involve the civil administration and police to become part of these committees. It is also planned to involve the state government in the initiative that helps in the maintenance of peace in the local areas.
CDR has built a network of civil society groups in the last five years in the state of J&K. The project will strengthen the civil society groups and create a bonding among the members for a definite cause. Dialogue and reconciliation has been the core activity of CDR for a long time and will continue to be implemented. In the past, CDR has successfully managed to generate enough funds for its programmes from the local community.
Journalists, who participated in the programmes, will continue to raise their voices through local and national media. Others will keep contributing to the online web discussion. FNF supported fund mobilisation training to the key civil society members will help in generating resources independently. Efforts will also be made to reach out to the District Development Council for support. Special efforts will be made to rope in the business community.