May 2003 News

Division Along Religious Lines

27 May 2003
The Daily Excelsior
K.N. Pandita

Jammu: PoK Prime Minister, Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan is reported to have suggested the resolution of Kashmir issue by dividing the State of Jammu and Kashmir along religious lines. We are not sure whether any political party of substance in that part of the State has ever recommended the division along religious lines in its manifesto. We believe that the people of the State, notwithstanding the compulsion of LoC, have never lost faith in peaceful coexistence of communities and groups as their historical inheritance. Only the founders of the ideology of Pakistan believed in two - nations theory and brought about the partition as its culminating point. Yet in his very first speech after the creation of Pakistan, its founding father most emphatically stressed on peaceful coexistence among various religious communities in the new state of his ideas. But surprisingly, his followers showed no inclination of either accepting or implementing the content of his historical speech. Therefore what the PoK Prime Minister suggests is not only at cross ends with the vision of the founder of Pakistan but is strictly in line with the state policy adopted by its subsequent rulers during the past half a century. Will it not be enigmatic for his own people - who have democratically voted him to power - to believe that he is speaking his own and not somebody else's language. The tragedy of the State is that the leadership on both sides has, more often than not, added to donkey load of confusions and contradictions, which the people have been forced to carry for half a century in the past. The question is what quantum of freedom and self confidence does the PoK leadership enjoy for playing a positive and constructive role in finding a viable solution to Kashmir tangle? Apart from this, the suggestion of division of the State along religious lines raises many juridical and empirical questions, which the PoK Prime Minister would need to address. In this connection the aid memoir flashed to him on May 22 by the President of the London - based International Kashmir Alliance makes a pointed reference to the jurisprudence of a number of treaty bodies of international and bilateral character, which, obviously, would not be supportive of a retrograde proposal. Reminding Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan of his constitutional, moral and human responsibilities and obligations as the elected Prime Minister of 'Azad Kashmir', IKA chief implores him to ensure that he does not head a communal Government, gives representation to Muslims and non- Muslims in his cabinet, facilitates election of a popular legislature and a popular government and safeguards the 'political identity' of the State. ' In support of your proposal, you shall have to offer an explanation for leading a generation of the people of Kashmir to death, precipitating rape, torture, disappearance and violations of Human rights in Kashmir and the uncertain future of over 2.5 million refugees living in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir', he argues. Why has the PoK Prime Minister chosen this point of time for proposing a solution of Kashmir tangle, which is fraught with most dangerous and disastrous consequences? It has always been the practice of the hawks in Islamabad to subvert any progressive attempt of resolving the tangle bilaterally by the two sides. The aid memoir of the IKA chief very subtly refers to this point. It says that the people of Kashmir living under a donkey load of five Governments (Srinagar, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit, Delhi and Islamabad) be consciously encouraged to support and supplement the peace process between India and Pakistan. 'However, it is your duty and of others who are in public life, to understand that it is a golden opportunity for the people of Kashmir to seek 'visibility' as one people living on either side of the line of control and under various administrations, ' the note says. In the words of the IKA chief, the proposal of division along religious lines appears to be the re-enactment of 'post dated cheque' syndrome of the days of Cripps Mission in 1942. The PoK Government in Muzaffarabad and the Hurriyat in Srinagar may have their own reasons to accept the 'post dated cheque' from their benefactors but these are not the only schools of thought in the State. Undeniably, the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir are the final arbiters of their destiny. The place and position of Rights Movement in Kashmir, taken on theoretical and historical basis, cannot be underestimated. It carries in its womb the essential component of political identity shaped by history. India and Pakistan both are essaying with the nitty-gritty of Kashmir issue. A number of efforts made in the past and over the decades have not succeeded. But dynamics of international politics throws up new conditions, new proposals and new actors. Something does click somewhere. The people of Kashmir who have gone through a decade of unprecedented trauma have developed the sense of differentiating a friend from a foe. We hope that experience will not fail them.


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