ON this Kashmir Solidarity Day, with the people of India-held Kashmir continuing to suffer from the latest bout of violence and repression by the Indian state, some long-standing realities need to be reiterated.
First, India will never be able to bury the Kashmir dispute — not inside IHK and not in its relationship with Pakistan.
To the proud, defiant and infinitely courageous people of IHK, a message of solidarity is important: whatever the rulers and policymakers in the region choose to do or not do, oppressed people everywhere share a common bond — the quest for dignity, basic rights and self-determination are fundamental to human existence. The state of India has long been in denial of core human values in IHK, but its denial cannot go on forever — the rightful and intrinsically just demands of the people of IHK will ultimately prevail.
Second, India’s stubborn refusal to engage with Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a policy doomed to failure. For parochial, domestic reasons, Mr Modi may be in denial of the centrality of the Kashmir dispute to the normalisation of ties between the two countries, but that cannot undo the legal and moral basis of Pakistan’s demand for a fair and just solution to the Kashmir dispute.
The framework of an eventual settlement is readily available and the initiation of publicly acknowledged or backchannel talks can build on the last pragmatic and sensible approach to conflict resolution: the four-point agenda of the Pervez Musharraf era. While the specifics can change, the four-point agenda was based on the right principles: a phased, progressive, mutually acceptable military de-escalation in the disputed region with a simultaneous, coordinated ramping up of a people-centric governance structure.
If war is not an option — as it can become in a nuclear-armed region — then the honest pursuit of peace is the only alternative.
Third, there are lessons for Pakistan in its thus far faulty strategy of keeping the Kashmir dispute alive internally, inside the country, and externally, on the global stage.
Domestically, the reliance on the religious right and extremist networks to keep the Kashmir dispute front and centre of the national consciousness has been a historical mistake. Mainstream politics based on a mainstream acceptance of human rights and self-determination and rooted in mainstream sections of society is the only sensible approach.
The more the Kashmir dispute is allowed to become the exclusive remit of right-wing and violent groups, the more the inherent justness of the Kashmir cause will be obscured. The external benefits will be clear too if Pakistan can present to the world a rational and peaceful case and if the powerful human dimension of the suffering in IHK is made central to the message of why the Kashmir dispute needs the outside world’s attention.
Kashmir Solidarity Day can be the start of a much-needed diplomatic and strategic rethink.
Published in Dawn February 5th, 2017
The State of Kashmir has always been a bone of contention, an eye sore ever since India achieved its independence. The position at that time was that, all the States that comprised India, and had been independent, had three clear options, available to them.
The three options were that, either they accede to India, or accede to Pakistan. The third option was that they could remain independent of both India and Pakistan.
While all the States did the needful the State of Kashmir took a unique turn, an eventful and an unprecedented turn. The then Prime Minister of India stated that, regarding the accession of the State of Kashmir the wishes of the people of the State would be taken into account, and not only the rules applicable to the other States.
This condition gave the State of Kashmir a peculiar status which no other State had, to enjoy. This little declaration by the Prime Minister turned the tide of events for the State of Kashmir which, till today has not seen the light of an amicable solution.
Taking full advantage of the declaration of the Prime Minister that, the people of Kashmir will decide their own fate, Pakistan has, all through these past fifty and odd years of independence of India been harping on the taking of an opinion poll in the State.
This is so because, Kashmir has a Majority population of Muslims and, Pakistan is convinced and rightly so that, if opinion is taken, the Muslim majority will most certainly vote for the option of acceding to Pakistan.
In the pursuit of this view only, Pakistan has been spreading terrorism in the State and ousting the Hindu Minority so that, the few non Muslim are also out of the scene of voting if the need arises.
All through these fifty years of India's independence Pakistan is very clearly and methodically trying to lay their claim and rightful authority over the State, whether it iswith force, murder, or mischief. This means that, a little mistake in the past has caused and is causing havoc to the State and to the people of the State of Kashmir. Seeing no benefit accruing to it by small and far apart skirmishes of big and small magnitude for the last ten years Pakistan is trying to eliminate the minority of Hindus from the State by reigning terror in the State.
They are training, financing and inspiring young men and sending them across the Indian border to spread fear in the State. The trainees are working under the guidance of hard-core Muslim terrorists to kill and plunder in the State.
There have been talks and declarations a number of times but there seems to be no end of the continued struggle for the little State of Kashmir.
After having dealt with the problem for fifty years, it is felt that, even to-day, the problem defies any solution, at least in the near future. The situation is in reality absolutely inflammable as, Pakistan continues to send Jihadist/terrorists to wreak destruction in the State.
The plea taken by the Jehadis is that, they are fighting for their right of freedom. India has all through these years sought to find a solution to the problem, which is amicable and mutually acceptable to all the parties involved. The latest attempt to find peace with Pakistan is the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by India.
Even to this step taken by India the Pakistani reply is not a follow up of a ceasefire by them but with guns and shells.
To this sort of a situation where both parties to the struggle have their own styles of functioning, all solutions seem to obstruct any results.
The policy of 'wait and watch' can only be the keyword to the Indian policy on Kashmir, let us see when Pakistan realizes the futility of a cold attitude towards its neighbor and its cold blooded revolt against India in the process of which, only innocent people are jailed, kidnapped and hacked to death.
The net result of all this being a big zero - we remain as is where is even after fifty years of attempting for a solution.
With this situation remaining for so long a period, it does not appeal to any reason that, relations of the two neighbors will ever improve. The relations are keeping on moving down the ladder of discontent and suspicion of each other, and there is nothing - just nothing achieved.