CPM Cites Kashmir To Defend China On Tibet, Forgets Beijing’s Illegal Occupation Of J&K Tract

20 April 2008

New Delhi: In trying to put up a strong defence on behalf of its ideological allies in China, the CPM has needlessly sought to drag the Kashmir issue into the debate over Tibetan protests. The latest effort comes from Nilotpal Basu, a key party central committee member, who feels that China is today a “victim of western moralising” just like India was on the issue of Kashmir. “It is a rehash of the same old thing... just as India has been a victim on the Kashmir issue, China is on Tibet,” Basu remarked when asked to explain his party’s position to ban Tibetan protests against the Olympic torch during a discussion on NDTV’s Big Fight on Saturday. When contacted by The Indian Express to elaborate on why he saw merit in drawing such parallels, Basu said: “The West was helping Pakistan by raking up the issue of human rights violation (in J&K) and India was a victim of the Western design. Similar is the case of China. The West is using the Tibet issue to paint China as a violator of human rights.” What Basu conveniently forgets is that while India plays a good host to Tibetans who fled the Chinese onslaught half a century ago, China illegally controls 5,800 sq km of Kashmir. This territory in the Shaksgam Valley, a trans-Karakoram tract, was illegally ceded by Pakistan to China - a transaction that India strongly objected, but found no reasonable response from China. Yet, the Left is willing to use the Kashmir argument if it helps defend China’s case on Tibet. In fact, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat was among the first to bring Kashmir into the current Tibet discourse. “Are we going to support a free Jammu and Kashmir? Or those other secessionist demands,” he said when asked about the issue at the party congress in Coimbatore last month. That the Indian claim on Kashmir is still to gain international recognition, even though there is no dispute to the fact that Tibet is an integral part of China is a question which the Left chooses to view from Beijing’s standpoint. In fact, Basu seems to allude that this should be highlighted to make the point that the Chinese case is, perhaps, stronger. “India considers J&K as an integral part of the country. But none of the countries in the UN have accepted that. Whereas the entire UN has accepted that Tibet is an integral part of China. It (China) is being victimised the same way we were victimised by the very same Western moralising on the question of Jammu & Kashmir,” said Basu while underlining the lack of justification behind the anti-torch protests. Disregarding the fact that it has taken some strong calibrated Indian diplomacy in the last decade or so to ensure that the Kashmir issue is not in the international limelight each time Pakistan raises it, the Left leader feels the Indian argument of having a democratically elected government in Jammu & Kashmir is a matter of mere perception. “Who says Tibet does not have one. It also has its own autonomous Government. Democracy means different things to different people depending on the contextual differences. There is no single interpretation to it and no one has the right to dictate democracy to other nation,” he told The Indian Express. Taking the argument further, Basu even questions the legitimacy of the Government of Tibet in-exile. “When the world accepts the autonomous region of Tibet, then what is the relevance of a government of Tibet in-exile? What are they doing? I don’t understand,” he said on NDTV on Saturday. He elaborated on it further today. “By supporting the Tibetan cause, one is questioning the very existence of the UN. Only the UN has the right to decide who is a separatist and who is a freedom fighter. As we say, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, separatist and freedom fighter is determined by how we look at the whole issue.” When asked whether all this rhetoric on Kashmir is not damaging Indian interests, Basu chooses to skirt the issue. “Our party position is quite clear in this case. All regional and border issues have to be sorted out through discussions.”prak