Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently said that Pakistan is looking at two or three different options to resolve the Kashmir issue. The news came after he had laid the foundation stones of the corridor project at Kartarpur on Nov 28 for Sikh pilgrims, a decision that won praise from both local and international audiences, including an admiring comment from a spokesman of foreign ministry of China reading, “We are glad to see very good interactions between Pakistan and India.” The remarks, which the newly ‘elected’ prime minister made during an interaction with a group of Pakistani TV anchors almost a week after the Kartarpur ceremony, were seen as Pakistan’s serious gesture by some and as a diplomatic stunt by others. Though Imran Khan insisted on peace and friendship and assured that “we need only two decisive leaders on both sides of the border … if they determined to solve the issue, it will happen’’, still many are not convinced. Some believe that such remarks can be assign that something big and perhaps unusual is going on behind the iron curtains of states and through back channels on Kashmir. However, from a realist point of view it is very unlikely that India and Pakistan could cooperate to resolve the dispute and live in union as the premiere of Pakistan proposed. Those who see it as a political stunt argue that developments such as construction of dams on either sides of Line of Control on Jhelum and Sindh rivers and ‘attempts’ to merge Gilgit Baltistan — an essential part of former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and a party to the dispute — into Pakistan points out a passive settlement of the ‘dispute’. They further argue that such a settlement of the Kashmir ‘dispute’ is also evident from India’s concreting the wall at the Line of Control and United Nations’ referring India and Pakistan Administered Kashmir as Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan respectively. It is important to note that a report that was published in the month of June this year by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and whose title reads as “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan” highlights that Indian security forces have used excessive force in Kashmir and killed and wounded numerous civilians since 2016, however, it simultaneously referred India Administered Kashmir as Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir 11 times including the title. Prior to this in 2010 the world body also removed the Jammu and Kashmir from its list of unresolved disputes. First the omission from the list of disputes under the observation of the Security Council and now the usage of the term Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir tells what? The Kashmir problem can only be resolved by India and Pakistan by meaningfully involving the Kashmir’s collective, not selective, leadership and by considering the people of former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir the first and foremost stakeholders However, assuming that the Pakistan and India are serious about resolving the Kashmir dispute, the two nuclear states must not forget that it is not just a territorial dispute between them but an issue involving millions of people across the LoC. They must know that a third party is crucial in moving towards in the direction of any viable solution of the dispute. This third party must be the people of Kashmir who would participate through their elected representatives. Legislative assemblies in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and state assembly in Jammu and Kashmir lack a truly representative mandate of the Kashmiri people. On Pakistani side, no member of the Legislative Assembly in AJK can qualify without demonstrating allegiance to Pakistan and, on the Indian side, none can qualify without demonstrating allegiance to the Indian Union. These legislative assemblies which are controlled from New Delhi and Islamabad need to be replaced by the proposed Representatives Assemblies comprised of the representatives of the people of Kashmir from all parts of J&K. Moreover, elections for these representative assemblies must be free and open to the public and international organizations. No representative should be disqualified for lack of show of allegiance to India and/or Pakistan. These assemblies, after their fair formation, would combine and merge together to make a Greater Representative Assembly (GRA) for all the people of Kashmir with the mandate to negotiate with India and Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Line of Control should be made flexible and the people-to-people contact in terms of social and economic engagement will have to be enhanced. On the social side, like Kartarpur Corridor, people must be allowed to have family reunion and, on the economic side, the Kashmiris must be able to do business on either side of J&K. Simultaneously, the region needs to be demilitarized and militant organizations are supposed to be disowned by the Pakistani security establishment. Besides, the Kashmiri refugees, from all parts of the world, would be allowed to return to their homes and the international human right commission would takes the moral and normative responsibility to monitor human rights situation. In addition, international organizations and companies would be allowed to start development projects that favour socio-economic uplifting of the people mired in abject poverty. India and Pakistan have to take the mentioned proposals with seriousness of intent and purpose. Both have to do their part meaningfully. The Kashmir problem can only be resolved by India and Pakistan by meaningfully involving the Kashmir’s collective, not selective, leadership and by considering the people of former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir the first and foremost stakeholders. The writer is a freelance journalist and PhD Scholar at National University of Modern Languages Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, December 10th 2018.