Pak Proposal Mars Srinagar-PoK Bus
1 November 2003
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
Jammu: New Delhi's unexpected move: Allow bus service between Sri-nagar, capital of Kashmir, and Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The move is part of the Government of India's 12 confidence building measures (CBMs) announced on October 22. No sooner did these proposals reach Islamabad than the Pakistan Government promises a 'robust' reply to New Delhi's fresh set of measures for normalising relations between the two countries. Islamabad's reply of October 29- Pakistan took at least one week to formulate its response to India-was equally unexpected. 'Yes', was the word from Islamabad on the issue of starting the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. But the conditionality proposed by Pakistan on the issue seemed to have marred chances of having hassle-free bus service between the two places. The Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Riaz A Khokar, chose October 29 to make public his Government's reply to New Delhi's proposals, when Indian Premier, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, wasn't in Delhi and Minister for External Affairs, Yashwant Sinha, was away in Brussels and Foreign Secretary, Kanwal Sibal in Japan. Islamabad's reply also surfaced at a time when the military ruler, Gen. Parvez Musharraf, termed India's latest peace moves as 'not strong', stating that he was not enthused by the initiative as it did not deal with the Kashmir issue. That Islamabad is not keen on the positive, constructive and cooperative relationship with New Delhi and that Islamabad does not want complete peace and tranquility across Jammu and Kashmir is borne out by the methodology it advocates in relation to the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. Islamabad's methodology, namely, deployment of UN forces at checkposts between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and bus passengers on both sides must carry UN documents. The Vajpayee Government cannot be faulted for its vehement opposition to the idea favouring a specific role for the UN forces. Islamabad's yet another proposal: Pakistan will offer 100 scholarships for Kashmiri students to study in professional institutions at graduate and post-graduate level. Pakistan will offer treatment for disabled Kashmiris and would assist and help widows and victims of rape, affected by the various operations launched by security agencies. This, to say the least, was a retort to India's goodwill gesture to provide free medical treatment to 20 Pak children. In plain language, Pakistan's Kashmir-specific scheme is part of Islamabad's strategy to keep anti-India pot boiling in Kashmir. Islamabad hasn't so far gone against the Simla Agreement. The 1972 pact makes it clear that any arrangement made by Pakistan and India concerning the Line of Control (LoC) is 'without prejudice to the recognised positions' of the two sides. Hence, a bus service with passports being stamped at Uri-Chakoti would not mean India and Pakistan were dropping their respective claims. Islamabad's reply to India's bus suggestions was also made public at a time when the average Pakistani was egged on to see India's proposal as a covert way of converting the LoC into a de facto international border. Pakistan's counter-proposals vis-a-vis Kashmir, obviously, have serious implications for India. In other words, allowing their implementation will be tantamount to not only accepting Kashmir as 'a disputed territory' but also conceding the Pakistani viewpoint that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are 'under a tyrannical rule'. The moment of truth has arrived for Pakistan. Most Pakistanis have believed right from 1947 that force alone would gain them Kashmir. A tribal Lashkar entered Kashmir in 1947, imposed itself on a chargrined Maharaja, who was reportedly playing for independence. Seen in retrospect, Pakistan's first Kashmir mistake was to frighten the Maharaja with the Laskhar. This gave the Maharaja no choice but to join India. The Laskhar turned out to be loose cannon, indulging in loot and rapine. The Lashkar called itself jihadists. The second attempt at force in Kashmir occurred in 1965. Then, as today, Pakistanis were victims of their own make-believe. Pak rulers bought the illusion that sending armed saboteurs would ignite a freedom struggle in Kashmir. The plan was called 'Operation Gibraltar'. In many cases, Kashmiri Muslims denounced the saboteurs to the police. The third attempt at using force was by guile. A jihad supported by some Pakistan-based groups commenced in the late '80s. The fourth attempt at using force was the ill-advised and ill-timed Kargil military adventure in 1999. The time has come to face the issue of Pakistan supporting or acquiescing in the so-called jihad in Kashmir squarely and honestly. When a jihad kills women and children and unarmed non-combatants, is it jihad or plain terrorism ? There is a strong fanatical lobby in Pakistan's military and in civilian life that believe that jihadist terrorism alone can free the Valley from Indian rule.