December 2005 News

Don't Rush On Kashmir

17 December 2005
The Nation
Iftikhar Ahmad

Lahore: One wonders why should India now refuse to accept the principle or criteria which formed the basis of partition of the Subcontinent (that is Muslim majority areas go to Pakistan and Hindu majority areas to India). Why not apply the same criteria to Kashmir? India had forcibly occupied Hyderabad and other Muslim Rulers' States (of British India) on this very ground. This very Indian action speaks loud in favour of the Two Nations Theory. There is no real progress on Kashmir. So far, all instruments - i.e. compact dialogue; Agra Summit; Simla accord, Tashkent agreement; United Nations Resolutions; and other efforts for resolving the dispute have failed. The key issue between Pakistan and India remains unsettled because of Indian deliberate strategy to drag it to the point where it becomes a non-issue. Therefore, there is no point in blaming Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson or point the finger at President Pervez Musharraf. Moves of Indian government regarding Kashmir indicate that those at the helm of affairs in New Delhi for the last 58 years have been rejecting and resisting all initiatives for conflict resolution or arbitration. India did not agree on demilitarisation in the Kashmir Valley even when the number of its armed forces and paramilitary troops was only a few thousand and that it had no nuclear capabilities. The situation has changed dramatically. The number of its Armed Forces has gone upto 800,000. This has taken place in line with Indian policy of genocide so that the majority could be converted into minority. And finally, even if plebiscite is held under the United Nations administration, nothing will come out in favour of Kashmiris. Those who think that Kashmir dispute can be resolved in one day are either self-deceiving or clearly ignorant of Indian attitude. In addition to its policy of genocide, Indian deliberations to divide the ranks of Kashmiri leadership are also at work. This is directed at dissipating Kashmiris' energies with ultimate aim of putting an end to their struggle for self-determination and freedom from the unjust Indian occupation and state terrorism. Everyday routine of Kashmiris and their lifestyle is worst hit due to human rights violations. The environment of suppression and oppression in occupied Kashmir precipitates the already existing abject poverty and reduces (rather eliminate) opportunities of finding life meaningful. The impact is transferred to Pakistan as well as India in terms of the pace of socio-economic development in the whole region. The two countries need to alleviate poverty rather than engaging in perpetual conflict and crisis. Bilateral talks and all efforts directed to CBMs lead no where. On the face of it, one may not admit. But realistically speaking CBMS have not helped getting any closer to addressing the core issue of Kashmir. Indian side has been trying to sidetrack. It focused mainly on trivials, mostly things that suit India. However, measures like restoration of air, rail, and bus links have helped to reduce tension between the two countries. Earlier, India was putting pressure on Pakistan in every possible way. It was almost in attacking position with all its armies on Pakistan borders. Though the initiative for peace and friendship between the two countries has been widely appreciated, yet there is no headway in the context of resolving the key-issue. With change in government in New Delhi there is no change in Indian Policy on Kashmir. Whether it is BJP or Congress in power, India is not willing to demilitarise Kashmir Valley to create enabling environment for Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-extermination and to give verdict freely, without any fear. India seems to be more inclined to accept status quo and or to give more autonomy (internally) to occupied Kashmir. There is no other option right now which India may accept. Not even the idea of self-governance; not even the idea of independent Kashmir. Independent Kashmir is not a practical proposal. Moreover, independent Kashmir could become a hub of foreign powers' conspiracies and power politics leading to dangerous consequences for the whole region. Kashmir under joint control of India and Pakistan is also not feasible given the emotions and prejudices on both sides and not so good experience of working with Indian leadership. India's recent N-deal with the United States (high technology transfer) and very close military and business relations is a development, which can impact the Kashmir issue and ultimately Pak-India relations. Whatever the emerging situation, one thing is clear that in spite of extreme oppression and state terrorism Kashmiris are not going to give up their struggle for freedom. They do not accept Indian control. Alienation from New Delhi was complete. Kashmir was the issue of Kashmiri people. They would ultimately come out victorious. It may take another couple of years but Kashmir conflict will be resolved in line with how Pakistan looks at the issue and what Kashmiris want. Whether it would be plebiscite or some other methodology, the vote will be the wish to be part of Pakistan or India. In the face of new developments taking place in the region, Pakistan's interests lie in regional stability. Its foreign policy has to play central vital role in minimising external threats. Focus of policy has been and should continue to seek regional equilibrium. Indo-US military pact and the presence of the sole superpower in this region is such a global transformation which can impact Pakistan's security perspective. However, it is also important to note that at all times the American foreign policy establishment feels that it is against American interests, that any major region of the world should be dominated by a country or a group of countries that can then organise themselves to pursue objectives which go against the United States of America. So New Delhi's current objective of America giving India a managerial role in South Asia is only a proposition. Since Pakistan cannot afford a hegemonic policy it must continue to work for regional stability pursuing a multifaceted effort at options enhancement. It is advisable not to rush on Kashmir. The current scenario is not suitable for Pakistan. Therefore wait and weigh. The writer is former Director NIPA, Lahore E-mail:


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