July 2004 News

An Indian View On Kashmir

1 July 2004
The Nation
Hamid Alvi

Lahore: The Indo-Pak joint statement on the resumption of composite dialogue between the two countries issued on the occasion of SAARC Summit has noticeably bolstered the morale of Pakistani peacenicks who are now found busy on several fronts to promote peace. To the dismay of those Pakistanis who are aware of the history of independence movement the peacenicks are found to be eager to have peace at any cost, with some foolishly questioning even the genesis of partition. Little do they know or care to know, that partition was forced on us by Hindu nationalists who were unwilling to provide purely democratic, constitutional guarantees Quaid-i-Azam asked for to protect Muslim interests. Nothing has changed since 1947 as regard the need to safeguard the Muslim concerns. The question of Kashmir offers living example of the conflict of views on basic constitutional issues between Congress and the Muslim League, as it justifies enactment of the partition scheme as the last resort. The peacenicks must have been disappointed when a visiting Bengali Hindu intellectual nearly endorsed the Pakistani perception on Kashmir, Indian secularism and partition and peace. Mr. Amit Chakraborty hails from Indian Bengal, has spent considerable time in studying and monitoring the violation of human rights in Kashmir and has absolutely no hesitation to proclaim that there could be no peace between India and Pakistan without the solution of Kashmir problem. With a bagful of statistics he spoke to a segment of Islamabad intelligentsia on June 21 at the premises of Pakistan Human Rights Commission. The precise topic of discussion was, 'Post Election India-Pakistan Peace Process and Possible Solution to the Kashmir Problem.' The sponsors included Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy' and the Pakistan Human Rights Commission. Speaking on the outcome of Indian elections, Chakraborty dismissed outright the belief widely held in Pakistan that the incoming Congress Party was in any way more secular than the outgoing BJP. He reminded the audience that the Congress President Sonia Gandhi kicked off her election campaign by performing Puja at a Hindu temple. Hence much hope must not be attached with Sonia brand of secularism. In any case the people of India did not vote for secularism, he said, they voted for bread and butter. Similarly, Chakraborty stressed that peace with Pakistan was not the election issue. And there was no widespread movement for peace in India as some Pakistani intellectual had assumed, while engaged in dialogue with the visitor. As regards the post election (Indian) scenario, Chakraborty did not envisage any dramatic pro-peace change in the Indian policy. He was frank to admit that India has entered the peace talk under the external pressure (America, obviously) and is likely to carry on with it as long as that pressure persists. He saw no fundamental difference between BJP and the Congress when it comes to settling disputes with Pakistan. Asked as to what does he make out of the expression 'Kashmir solution must take into account aspirations of Kashmiri people', frequently used by Pakistan and the United States; the Indian visitor spelled out what Kashmiri make out of it but preferred not to speculate about the intentions of others. He told the audience that according to his survey of Kashmir public opinion more than 80 percent of Kashmiris subscribe to the slogan, 'We want Azadi; Kashmir Baney Ga Pakistan'. Chakraborty had no illusion that overwhelming number of Kashmiris want liberation from India. What they mean by 'Kashmir baney ga Pakistan' goes unexplained. The Indian researcher also discussed the Kashmiri reaction to the recent Indian parliamentary elections. The voters throughout the valley, he said, frequently responded to the Hurriyat Conference's call for boycott. Despite Indian military's efforts, the voter turn out was 'very poor'. Pakistani perception that election was no more than a sham was testified by the eyewitness account of an Indian. Hence, during the peace talk India should not be allowed to use the pretext that those sitting in the Indian parliament from Kashmir enjoyed the representative character. Who then represents Kashmir as the things exist today? The Indian researcher was of the opinion that the Hurriyat Conference could rightly claim to be the representative body of the Kashmiris. He also argued that no formula on solution of Kashmir would work if it is not endorsed and approved by the Hurriyat. Like most Pakistanis, the scholar from India insisted that there should be tripartite talks on Kashmir with Hurriyat representing the Kashmiris. A survey Chakraborty conducted in the Srinagar District showed that eighty- nine per cent of the citizens rejected the idea of converting the Line of Control (LoC) into permanent border. May be Mr. J.N. Dixit, India's Advisor for National Security, could benefit from Amit's survey. Dixit's imagination does not go beyond converting LoC into international border as solution of a serious human problem. Amit Chakraborty's views on Kashmir may not influence the final solution but it was reassuring to note that someone from other side of the border could also speak truthfully on the tragic dispute. More than that it should have been an eye-opener for the Pakistani peacenicks who are eager to have peace with India, Kashmir or no Kashmir.


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