One Man’s Vision for Peace in Long-Troubled Kashmir: Separatist Leader Puts Ideas in Book (Emily Wax, 7/28/07, Washington Post)
Sajad Lone perused the tattered, yellowed pages of a book he salvaged from his father’s library. Written nearly 60 years ago during Kashmir’s prosperous but brief heyday of self-rule, the book detailed some of the region’s successes and failures, and his father referred to it often.
“When I look at this book, I remember my father’s thoughts and hopes,” Lone, 41, said on a rainy afternoon as he glanced at shelves in his library filled with tomes outlining peaceful solutions to the world’s endless conflicts. “It was a time when Kashmir flourished.”
His father, Abdul Gani Lone, a popular, moderate separatist leader, was gunned down in May 2002 by unidentified attackers.
Like his father, Sajad Lone has pushed for an end to the conflict in Kashmir, a stunningly beautiful mountainous region that once was a tourist wonderland where Bollywood movies were filmed but is now a heavily militarized war zone claimed by both India and Pakistan. […]
Last January, India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, asked Lone to help develop a plan for Kashmir with Indian negotiators during talks in New Delhi, the capital. Lone said that the opportunity pleased him but that he told Singh he needed time to respond with a well-thought out proposal.
Lone returned to Kashmir, rented a hotel room in the Gulmarg ski area and wrote his own book, a kind of hopeful sequel to the one from his father’s library, that offered a fresh road map back to peace in Kashmir.
The 266-page book, titled “Achievable Nationhood,” is the first of its kind to be presented by a separatist leader since the latest round of hostilities began in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989. In the book, released several months ago, Lone proposes a unified Kashmir that would be administered by autonomous leaders.
Under Lone’s plan, which he calls a “vision document,” the Indian- and Pakistani-held parts of Kashmir would share a wide range of institutions. The creation of an Economic Union would allow tax-free trade between the two sides of Kashmir and allow a free flow of people and goods. Kashmir’s defense could be the joint responsibility of Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani authorities, Lone said.
“There was always confusion over what we want in Kashmir,” said Lone, a hulking man who speaks slowly and often appears to be deep in thought. “This is just my idea put down on paper. And I hope it will spark more interest in Kashmir.”
The Kashmiri think of themselves as a people, so they are a nation. We’re just quibbling over the pace at which that’s accepted.