Peacebuilding in Jammu and Kashmir
Peacebuilding in Jammu and Kashmir includes confidence-building measures at a nation-state level between the governments of India and Pakistan, Track two diplomacy, as well as initiatives by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), institutes and individuals. The main purpose of peacebuilding in Jammu and Kashmir is conflict prevention and reduction of hostilities in the Kashmir Valley.
In 27 years, between 1990 and 2017, insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir has claimed a total of 41,000 lives (14,000 civilians, 5,000 security personnel and 22,000 militants) according to government figures made available in 2017. India and Pakistan have also fought three wars in Kashmir during 1947–1948, 1965 and the Kargil War in 1999.
List of initiatives
Indian central and state government initiatives
- The People's Democratic Party (PDP) government's ‘healing touch’ policy between 2002 and 2005 included freeing jailed militants, reducing operations by the security forces, increasing free movement of people by reducing police checks, all part of initiatives aimed at pushing forward a more "humane approach" by the administration, especially the security forces. Mufti Mohammad Syed, a chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir said that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had supported the healing touch policy. Mehbooba Mufti, the ninth Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tried to revive the "healing touch" policy during her term (2016–2018), with initiatives such as the withdrawal of FIRs against over 9,700 youth and cash compensations for pellet victims. The cases withdrawn were related to people involved in stone-pelting incidents in the region between 2008 and 2017.
- In 2010, the Omar Abdullah government introduced the "surrender and rehabilitation policy", allowing former militants who had crossed the Line-of-Control into Pakistan, to come back to India. Over 400 militants utilised the policy.
- "Valley-centric" approaches have resulted in discontent among other communities in the region such as Ladhaki Buddhists. Formation of "Autonomous Hill Councils" in the Leh district and Kargil district have proven to be a successful peacebuilding initiative in this aspect according to Navnita Chadha Behera. In September 2018, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council was given more powers, making it "among the most autonomous councils" in India.
- Operation Sadbhavana in Jammu and Kashmir is an Indian Army initiative which involves welfare measures such as infrastructure development, medical care, women and youth empowerment, educational tours and sports tournaments among other initiatives.
Indo-Pak initiatives in relation to Kashmir
- The Karavan-e-Aman (Caravan of Peace), a bus service connecting Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) and Muzaffarabad (Azad Kashmir), was started in 2005. In 2006, a second bus line started between Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir) and Rawalakot (Azad Kashmir). In 2008 trade started on these routes, opening Jammu and Kashmir's traditional trading centres to the west for the first time since 1947. The trade is tightly regulated. During times of heightened tension, the routes are closed, such as was the case from July to August 2016.
- The "Neemrana dialogue" was launched in 1991 as a track 2 initiative between India and Pakistan. Due to the Mumbai attacks, Uri attack and the following 2016 Indian Line of Control strike, there were no official talks between the two countries until April 2018. Topics discussed in the dialogue interaction in 2018 included Kashmir, Siachen conflict and the Line of Control situation.
- Athwass, (Kashmiri for handshake), was an initiative by a south Asian think tank, Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP), in 2000, that brought together women from Kashmiri Pandit, Muslim and Sikh communities for the first time since the rise of militancy in the Kashmir valley in 1990. WISCOMP also organises the "Kashmiri Women Writers Meet", aiming to bring together women from conflicting perspectives using literature. On 23 March 2017, WISCOMP conducted a one-day dialogue on ‘Echoes and Resonances: Critical Challenges for Youth and Peace Building in Kashmir’. WISCOMP is an initiative of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of the Dalai Lama.
- Various NGOs in the region working on initiatives related to peacebuilding include the "Yakjah Reconciliation and Development Network" and the "Human Effort for Love and Peace (HELP) Foundation, J&K".
- Kashmir and Kashmiris are sidelined in the rivalry between India and Pakistan, with the resolution of the Kashmir issue being seen in the context of Indo-Pak relations. As a result, the interests of the Kashmiris have been overshadowed. Mohini Giri, in a short statement at the Human Rights Council in 2014, said that "Kashmiri civil society (not just the separatists) should be able to voice their aspirations at any negotiating table".
- According to Susheela Bhan who conducts "ethics and values based education" in government schools in Jammu and Kashmir, students from rural areas are most prone to violence, and "through education they can become important contributors to peace". (Despite Jammu and Kashmir being the only state in India that provides free education at all levels, the average literacy in Jammu and Kashmir is lower than the national Indian average).
- According to an exploratory study by A Subramanyam Raju, first and second generation Indians want to get back Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but the third generation wants to "solve the issue peacefully and amicably".
- Tourism is often discussed in the context of Jammu and Kashmir as a peacebuilding measure.
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- PTI (3 May 2006). "Poonch-Rawalkot bus service from June 19". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 31 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
- PTI (3 August 2017). "Cross-LoC travel and trade to resume on Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad route". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
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- "Yakjah Reconciliation and Development Network". Peace Insight. December 2018. Archived from the original on 31 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
- "About Us". HELP (Human Effort for Love and Peace) Foundation J&K. Archived from the original on 31 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
- Schaffer, Teresita; Schaffer, Howard (17 January 2006). "Kashmir: The Economics of Peace-Building". Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
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- Giri, Mohini (17 September 2014). "Panel-Statement, UN Human Rights Council Session 27" (PDF). Widows for Peace. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
- Singh, Pratibha (May 2013). "Education and Peace Building in Kashmir" (PDF). Centre for Land and Warfare Studies (CLAWS). Retrieved 30 December 2018.
- Raju, A Subramanyam (April 2001). Third-Generation Indian Perceptions of the Kashmir Issue (PDF). Colombo, Sri Lanka: Regional Centre for Strategic Studies. ISBN 9558051209.
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- Verghese Koithara (2004). Crafting Peace in Kashmir: Through A Realist Lens. Sage Publications.