July 2003 News

Second opinion: What is the Chenab Formula?

3 July 2003
The Daily Times
Khaled Ahmed’s Urdu Press Review

Islamabad: The Chenab Formula was the best thing to happen to us in fifty years, but we don’t know if it really happened. The Indians deny it, but we are being “gutham-gutha” over the possibility of it ever being right. How can we let a good thing happen to us? Kashmir is the most politicised issue in Pakistan. That could probably be one reason why it will never be resolved. Every time someone takes a step forward, someone else will challenge him on home ground. The assumption is that the challenger has a better plan for getting Kashmir out of the clutches of India. The truth is that no one any longer has the perfect plan for Kashmir. We have made so many political and ideological mistakes since 1948 that the world will not let us grab the whole of it. A middle-of-the-road solution may be possible, if that. But our national politics is hot over the issue, as if the solution to Kashmir on our preferred lines is just around the corner. Good people who fall by the wayside trying sincerely to resolve the issue will never be recognised. Azad Kashmir’s PPP leader Barrister Sultan Mehmood stated in “Nawa-e-Waqt” (18 June 2003) that prime minister of Azad Kashmir Sikandar Hayat Khan was no longer a member of Azad Kashmir Assembly as he had violated the Azad Kashmir Constitution by supporting the Chenab Solution to the Kashmir dispute. He said it was wrong to say that the Chenab Formula was first presented by Bhutto who had actually said that Pakistan would fight India for a thousand years. He said he had started agitation against Sikandar Hayat Khan because he promoted the Chenab Solution and was soon going to besiege the Azad Kashmir Assembly to oust him from power. It is unfortunate that Sultan Mehmood got his people out on the road and had them take a bastinado of the “lathi” on their backsides by the police. He also invaded the assembly where the politicians became “gutham-gutha” and exchanged “thappar” and “ghoonsay” on the floor of the house. Sultan Mehmood must have got even in his heart over the issue of his alleged drinking which the Muslim Conference of Sikandar Hayat had used most disingenuously when Barrister Sahib was ruling. But the Chenab formula was nothing to fight about, especially as Sikandar Hayat had referred to it as a private person and not presented it as a party platform. (JKLF can’t take part in elections under the Azad Kashmir Constitution because it wants an independent Kashmir.) Writes Abdul Rashid Malik in The Nation (3 June 2003): ‘The river Chenab comes out from Himalayan range of Kullus in the extreme north of Kishtwar in Doda district (Jammu province) with high mountain range of Himachal (India) adjoining in the background. It flows through the mountainous areas of Doda, Ramban, Surukot, Salat, Reasi, Akhnoor and enters into Punjab (Pakistan) at Head Marala where a big headwork has been built facilitating construction of two big channels. India has built Salal dam on it under Indus Water Treaty. On the right bank of it is stretched half of mountainous Doda district, the entire Gulab Garh tehsil of Udhampur district, at a very long distance fall the districts of Rajouri and Poonch all being the Muslim majority areas contiguously linked with Kashmir province which has six districts with 98 percent Muslim population. On the left bank of Chenab fall the beautiful Tehsils of Bhadarwah, Kishtwar having majority Muslim population, and at far away starts the Hindu majority districts of Udhampur, Jammu and Kathua. To sum up, out of six districts of Jammu province almost three districts fall on the right bank of Chenab river having close contiguity with Kashmir province. Only three districts with majority Hindu population fall on the left bank of the river. According to Chenab Line formula of division of Jammu and Kashmir (if agreed to) eighty- percent territory of the state (including Azad Kashmir and Northern areas) becomes part of Pakistan only twenty percent being left with India. This kind of solution of Jammu and Kashmir could be a windfall for Pakistan and the Kashmiris. We all should pray for this to happen.’ Columnist Ataur Rehman writing in “Nawa-e-Waqt” (15 June 2003) said that columnist Khaled Ahmed’s English column in “Daily Times” said wrongly that when the Pakistani state was weak it was less cruel to its non-Muslims. He said the claim was totally wrong; in fact there was more clear evidence of India persecuting its minorities than Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif showed courage of the drunk (jurat-e-rindana) when he rebuffed the American money to test the nuclear device. He said the “Amrika-nawaz” (pro-America) columnist would not be able to show any evidence to prove his point. Pakistan as a state is not strong because its external sovereignty is limited due to indebtedness and also specifically under the UN Security Council resolution 1373 which mandates the action against terrorism we don’t like. This lack of strength has forced our judiciary to reverse its trend of awarding death to minority members accused wrongly of blasphemy. (There are laws against our law of blasphemy in the US and the EU.) The judiciary used to hang the minority members because it was scared of the jihadi militias supported by the state. There was too much power on the wrong side. After the 1373 resolution, the jihadis are down and the judiciary not so scared and in fact encouraged by quarters who fear reaction from our Paris and London loan-givers abroad. Ayub Masih was let off by the Supreme Court after resolution 1373, which is a record. This is not to say that a weak state is bad. In fact the state must be weakened to prevent it from tyrannising its citizens. In Europe they do it through proportional representation and local government. In Pakistan it is done under external pressure. The difference between India and Pakistan is that in the case of the latter most persecution is done in pursuit of the law and in the case of the former in violation of the law. Great scholar Fateh Muhammad Malik wrote in “Nawa-e-Waqt” (15 June 2003) that Stockholm University’s Ishtiaq Ahmad writing in “Daily Times” had recommended that India and Pakistan forsake their ideological rancour and move towards economic integration. Malik stated that this was like Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi pledging in his poetry to give Samarkand and Bukhara in return for the beauty spot on the face of a Hindu girl. He said Pakistan was created on the basis of a philosophy and would end if it was forsaken. Pakistani intellectuals included some who were “Hindu-mizaj” (Hindu temperament) and “Afrang-ma’ab” (Adulators of the West). The first epithet was coined by Mujaddid Alf Sani and the second by Allama Iqbal. Fateh Muhammad Malik has to decide what he dislikes more: the Americans and the West or India? Globalisation scares many people who think that regional economic integration as promised in the 1996 SAARC resolution on free trade area (SAFTA) is the right way to go. Pakistan signed the agreement, then began soft-pedalling. India went ahead and started signing free trade treaties with Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Thus isolated, Pakistan began negotiating its own free trade treaty with Sri Lanka. Some time after 2005, when global free trade catches up with Pakistan, regional integration will start looking attractive. It might be too late then. Fateh Muhammad Malik is ideologue, economist, moralist and political scientist all rolled into one as he castigates people in disciplines he knows nothing about.


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