July 2004 News

Pakistan Has A Kashmir Policy

31 July 2004
The Nation
Abdul Baseer

Lahore: This is in response to Mr Kuldip Nayar's article titled 'Pakistan has no Kashmir policy', carried by this paper in its issue of July 28, 2004. Let us begin by mentioning those statements he attributed to General Ayub Khan and Mian Nawaz Sharif. Ayub Khan is reported to have said, 'Nehru was insulting. I tried to talk to him thrice, each time with the observation that since both countries had solved a big problem like Indus Waters, they should tackle Kashmir to settle things once and for all. Each time Nehru either started looking at the ceiling or outside the window.' I leave it to the readers to judge for themselves the character and the moral caliber of these two gentlemen. Which one is trying for peace and which one has the arrogance of power and a closed mind? About Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mr Nayar says, 'it goes to Sharif's credit that he said India was not in a position to give Kashmir on a platter'. Fine, but what next? Is Mr Nayar trying to suggest that Mian Nawaz Sharif was mentally reconciled to the annexation of Kashmir by India? Or is Mr Nayar trying to suggest that Mian Sahib having realised that Kashmir being out of reach, Pakistan should concentrate on trade and travel with India? Although Mian Sahib is not available for comment, some of his followers here make no secret of their belief that but for Kargil India was virtually on the verge of giving Kashmir to Pakistan on a platter. I leave these two contradictory perceptions also to the readers to figure out the reality. Let us now look at some other happenings mentioned by Mr Nayar to prove Pakistan's follies. In the very first paragraph of his article he says, 'Nations like individuals look ugly when they break rules. Pakistan raised Kashmir at the SAARC foreign minister's conference in Islamabad. The rule is that no bilateral issue will be raised at such meetings. The violation not only exasperated India but also other members of the SAARC.' Having expressed his anger against Pakistan, by calling it 'ugly', a seeker of 'cheap publicity', a 'raiser of dust', etc., Mr Nayar gives a longish, though somewhat stale lecture to Pakistan on how to behave. Some column writers do tend to be abusive when they don't have logic on their side, or when they are upset, but at least Mr Nayar should have had his facts right. To begin with, he is right in saying that the discussion of bilateral disputes at the SAARC forum is not allowed. But there is no ban on discussion of other matters, including disputes, on the sidelines of the SAARC meetings, especially when the parties involved have decided beforehand to hold such meetings. The Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan, in this case, had already agreed to meet on the sidelines of the regular sessions. Mr Nayar's criticism is based on wrong information. Not only that his assumption that India and other the SAARC members were 'exasperated' shows how little he knows about SAARC. SAARC members have repeatedly tried to mediate between India and Pakistan, but being snubbed by India, they had to withdraw. As to whether any SAARC member went personally to express its exasperation, against Pakistan, to Mr Nayar, we of course do not know. Before we leave the subject of Pakistan's compliance or non-compliance with the rules, let us pause a little and look at India's record. Isn't it a rule, in fact a moral obligation, of a party to a dispute, which has given a solemn commitment to solve its disputes in a certain manner, to abide by it? India made a solemn commitment to the UN Security Council to solve the Kashmir dispute in a certain manner. There are a number of UN Security Council Resolutions on that. What India has done is: firstly to assert that there is no dispute, secondly, to annex the territory in dispute unilaterally and thirdly, to block all routes to its solution. When Mr Nayar talks of rules, wouldn't it be nice if he looks at things closer at home. And if he does, he will find that it is not only on Kashmir that India does not follow any rules it has a long and glorious record of flouting rules in many other cases. Take, for example the cases of Junagarh and Munawadar. The rules said these should go to Pakistan. India said rules or no rules, these being Hindu majority states, they should join India. Mr Nayar says, 'Islamabad must realise Kashmir is not a religious issue'. But how come Junagarh, Munawader, Hyderabad all became religious issues?. To go back a little, one fails to understand why Mr Nayar was no upset about Mr Natwar Singh talking to his counterpart, Mr Khurshid Kasuri. If he feels that Mr Natwar Singh, following in the footsteps of his great leader Pundit Jawahar Lal, should have looked at the ceiling or out of the window when the word Kashmir was mentioned, then all he has to do is to persuade Madam Sonia Gandhi to remove Mr Singh and instead make Mr Nayar the Foreign Minister. He will serve his country well by looking at the ceiling and out of the window and if pressed further he will sing that old old song of 'let ties of trade and commerce develop into the ties of dependence and friendship. Once the people of the two countries come to have an equation at different levels, Kashmir will be automatically solved'. How? By Pakistanis getting so enamoured of India that they will not mind Kashmiris being slaughtered by the Indian troops by the dozens every day. Mr Nayar's song is a nice one but a bit out of tune today. Mr Nayar has been good enough to tell us why it is so difficult for India to let go of Kashmir. If it decides to let go, he says 'hordes of other things, primarily the amendment to the Indian Constitution which lists Jammu and Kashmir as part of the Indian Union' will be needed. Correct Mr Nayar, but whose bright idea it was in the first place to ask the dumb Indian Parliament to try to absorb an internationally recognised disputed territory. If the Indian Parliament acted that dumb then it is only meet and proper it owned up to its stupidity. If the Indian legislators find it hard to do so, it is not Pakistan's problem. India should pull out its chestnuts from the fire without outside help. Mr Nayar has also raised the fundamental question of Pakistan's locus standi on Kashmir. 'What claim does it have over Kashmir,' he has asked. The answer to that is simple. It is the claim that India recognised when it took the dispute to the United Nations. Mr Nayar has also been good enough to comment. 'No amount of Pakistan sponsored infiltration has changed the situation. All that it has done is to communalise the Kashmir movement which was once indigenous and national in character'. Giving the devil his due, Mr Nayar has acknowledged the fact that the Kashmir movement was an indigenous one. He has only slightly cheated here by not mentioning the fact that it was against the Indian occupation of Kashmir. Even today it remains so, infiltration or no infiltration. Mr Nayar should check up his facts again. And finally the question Mr Nayar has raised is: Does Pakistan have a Kashmir policy? He answer that himself by saying Pakistan has no Kashmir policy. How sweet of him, except for the fact that Pakistan does have a Kashmir policy. In a nutshell it is that Kashmir belongs neither to India, nor to Pakistan, it belongs to the people of Kashmir. Let them decide under a neutral supervision what they want. Any objection.


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