Wolpert seeks peaceful, equitable Kashmir solution
12 September 2004
The News International
Los Angeles: Stanely Wolpert, the most widely read historian in South Asia, believes that there cannot be lasting stability in the region until and unless Kashmir dispute is resolved 'peacefully and equitably as soon as possible'. In an exclusive interview with The News at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr Wolpert said: 'It is the most pressing residual problem of the late 1940s.' He recalled it is a matter, which has obviously plagued the subcontinent for more than half a century and has led to at least three wars. PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1959, Stanely Wolpert has authored several books and dozens of research papers on South Asia. The author of 'Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India (1962)', 'Morley and India, 1906-1910 (1967)', 'A New History of India (Oxford (1977)','Roots of Confrontation in South Asia (Oxford 1982)', 'Jinnah of Pakistan (Oxford 1984)', 'Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan (Oxford, 1993) and 'Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny (Oxford, 1996)', is now writing a voluminous Encyclopaedia of India. 'Until it is resolved there will continue to be either conflict or waste of resources on both sides,' he continued. Dr Stanely Wolpert emphasised that this was a matter that should be 'sincerely addressed and must be given the highest priority'. The professor, equally popular in India as well as Pakistan for his academic contributions, remarked: 'Unless the issues of such antiquity and such pain have been resolved it is difficult to overcome what is usually a barrier to the resolution of all problems namely the mistrust and fear that both sides have against each other.' Reflecting on likely method to the resolution of the dispute, the professor explained the ultimate realisation that Kashmir itself has several components and several sub units would lead perhaps to the agreement 'to allow Jammu and Ladakh to be integrated into India and leave Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas with Pakistan'. He could foresee prospects for either plebiscite or some kind of vote in Srinagar valley more in keeping with the UNSC resolutions. In 1948, 20-year-old Stanley Wolpert was on an overseas sightseeing trip when he arrived in India. At the time, Wolpert admits, he knew almost nothing of a country whose history he has now chronicled in 17 books. But Wolpert's introduction couldn't have been more dramatic. He reached Bombay just days after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. From his vantage point, atop a nearby hill, Wolpert witnessed the beloved leader's ashes being sprinkled from a ship into the water below. That breathtaking moment in Wolpert's life set the stage for the remainder of his career, the last 39 years of which he has spent as the UCLA history professor. Taking a pragmatic view, Professor Stanely Wolpert opined, '. . . even if that is not possible and it may not be, I do think that both sides should be willing to guarantee the integrity and security of the entire region by a unified action having their joint defence committee.' The leading historian and keen South Asia watcher noted there has to be a total elimination of any violent terrorist activity that has to be monitored by both nations 'in a totally fair way'. Both the nuclear nations must now realise that there can be no and there should be no further wars, advised the veteran professor. He called for an agreement 'to carefully monitor any terrorist activity, any insecurity, any violation of the ceasefire and that the responsibility has to be accepted for on the part of leaders of these two countries'. The peace process that started in January at the Saarc meeting is very encouraging, Dr Wolpert stated. He sees the ceasefire along the Line of Control and the recent discussion of the pull back from Siachin as 'very encouraging'. He hoped that the South Asian leadership would adopt a step-by-step approach to progress towards a resolution of the Kashmir conflict. 'There should be a possible meeting not only of minds but also agreement on sharing of a variety of technological as well as intellectual and cultural events,' he opined. The veteran professor is optimistic that in the years ahead there would probably be the most positive development South Asia has had since independence in 1947. He believed that the fate of the region depend a lot on the leadership the two countries have. The professor believes that the change of governments in India and Pakistan are very important as both Manmohan Singh and Shaukat Aziz understand the issues that are going to help the economy to develop. Wolpert said: 'Both would be able to reach very rapid agreements for their remarkable reputation of integrity and honesty.'