Solving Kashmir conflict
Do we really have a solution in mind?
WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED
Kashmir dispute is an intractable conflict. Normally, evaluation of any conflict is a methodological process. In case of Kashmir it is more difficult a task. It is easy to analyze the known aspects of a conflict, factoring in unknowns is a complex exercise. Unknowns add to the unpredictability; analysis gets pushed into the realm of unforeseen. Developing a perspective taking into account known as well unknown factors of a conflict is now part of the peace studies. Building a proper perspective of Kashmir issue is actually not the problem. Absence of dispassionate analysis is the real challenge. Here even well-meaning opinion makers think from the heart rather than the mind. Emotionalism destroys the scope of dispassionate analysis. Screaming from the rooftops only generates hysteria.
Sometimes one wonders, why people with working knowledge of history build imaginative scenarios, it only serves the propagandist’s cause. Else it is indicative of a highly biased and sentimental mind. In a democratic society everybody is entitled to have his opinion. But to project faulty and misleading prognosis is an irresponsible attitude, particularly in a situation like Kashmir wherein life and death of an entire generation is at stake.
Indeed the heroic sacrifices of the boys have forced a stalemate. Conflict resolution based on the lines of the ‘Quit Kashmir’ is still a far away dream. However ‘Quit Kashmir’ leadership holds a different viewpoint, they believe that movement has entered into a decisive phase and conflict resolution according to their ideology is imminent. It is very much apparent that they lack the real assessment of the prevailing ground realities. Why blame the leaders whose intellectual capabilities in geo-political affairs are always a suspect? It is the so called intellectuals through their public columns and private advice have succeeded in convincing the frail minded leaders that Indian army is about to quit Kashmir?
The Kashmiri intelligentsia (by and large) is busy in spinning a yarn. President of United States during his visit to India in November will force India to withdraw from Kashmir? Little knowing that President Obama is visiting India to stoke the ego of Dr Manmohan Singh led UPA regime and not to dictate his terms on the Indian leadership. Obama may privately nudge Indian leadership towards a peacemaking deal with Pakistan to save America from an impending defeat in Afghanistan. Honorable exit of American forces is high on agenda of Obama; a resolute Pakistan has the potential to turn topsy-turvy America’s designs in Afghanistan. But Pakistan at present is in the dire straits. If push comes to shove, it will be still seen how much concessions a fragile Pakistan can extract from Americans?
Nevertheless American think-tanks and counterterrorism experts do believe that without finding a solution to Kashmir conflict; it is difficult to have a lasting peace in the region. President Obama may encourage a peace process between India and Pakistan, but he in all probability will not and cannot dictate his terms. Therein lies the rub; Kashmiri leadership will have to bear in mind the difference between ‘encouraging’ and dictating. Nevertheless, some hopes are building; there certainly is some light at the end of a dark tunnel
In such a scenario it becomes very important for the pro-freedom leadership to gauge the real mood of the situation. In international diplomacy moments are always fleeting. Leaders will have to firmly ascertain what is in the offing? Pro-freedom leaders have attained some negotiating advantages. Yet the question needs to be probed, is this bargain power enough to enforce a settlement according to the objectives of ‘Quit Kashmir’? And if presently objectives of Quit Kashmir are not fully possible to achieve, what in present situation is achievable? Moreover, is this the best time to initiate a duologue or to continue with the resistance?
In order to find answer to these complex questions it is mandatory to have a cold analysis of the emerging scenarios, without exaggerating the possibilities or undermining the prospects. To resolve the conundrum of Kashmir dispute, multiple layers of positions and interests have to be unraveled. Over the period of 63 years, dynamics of Kashmir dispute have undergone a dramatic change. In 1947 Kashmir problem was based on the logic of two-nation theory. The options for people of Jammu and Kashmir were quite simple and straightforward, either India or Pakistan. Though underlying currents to some extent are shaped by the history, but the time lag has changed the contours of the conflict. The erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which included: Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, (few may like to include Aksai Chin also, an area conceded by Pakistan to China). These regions are not only administered by different administrations, the people of these regions pursue conflicting ideologies and have different aspirations as well, and even there are intra-regional conflicts also.
Presently, six realities are carved in stone. a) People of Kashmir valley including Muslim majority regions of Jammu and pockets of Kargil in Ladahk are in favour for Azadi. Ideally they will like to maintain equidistance with both India and Pakistan. b) People in Jammu-Samba, Khatua and parts of Udhampur and Leh want to completely merge with India. c) Azad Kashmir, contrary to popular belief held in valley here, is comfortable with its present political status. Though some pocket of population aspires for Azadi, their urge is not so deep to prompt them in waging a struggle which may challenge Pakistan’s control. d) People in Gilgit-Baltistan emotionally do not consider themselves as part of Kashmir, they blame Dogra expeditions for juxtaposing these regions with Kashmir. Since 1947 Gilgit-Baltistan a vast area was simply referred as ‘Northern Areas’ in Pakistan bereft of any identity and its constitutional status was in limbo. The popular demand in these areas was to accord them a status of fifth province in Pakistan. The present status of quasi province accorded to Gilgit-Baltistan by present PPP government in Pakistan seems to have satisfied to great extent political aspirations of these areas. e) Pakistan in no case will like to cede or loosen the grip on the areas of Jammu and Kashmir under its control. f) Likewise India is also in mood to concede an inch of territory under its control to Pakistan; it is most comfortable in maintaining present geographical and political status quo.
Some ‘colonial theorists’ in habit of drawing simple conclusions like to castigate the uprising in Kashmir as communal; only Muslim majority of Jammu and Kashmir (under Indian rule) are politically alienated with New Delhi. Off course the bulk of the majority population is struggling for its political rights. But the resistance is not communal or religion based, had it been so, the popular demand in Kashmir should have been accession with Pakistan and not Azadi.
Demand for Azadi is a recent phenomenon; a section believes that it has complicated the situation. India and other international powers including neighboring emerging power China will never allow emergence of an unstable Islamic republic of Kashmir in a highly important geo-political but volatile region, where many powers are already in competition of attaining supremacy.
Accession to Pakistan is next to impossible; Independent Kashmir will not suit the geopolitics? In desperation some influential circles propound the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines; it’s the most absurd idea. Social costs of another partition will be enormous, besides neat partitions of the areas, is not even possible. How to curve out Leh out of Ladahk, Poonch-Rajoori and Chenab belt from Jammu, where population is mixed and dispersed widely. These are the grim realities of the conflict, which contributes in the making of a deadlock.
However if leadership in Kashmir is able to think creatively, third option of independent Kashmir can become a blessing in disguise. Instead of reason for the acrimony and war, independent Kashmir can also become a bridge---- redefining state of affairs between India and Pakistan form one of contention to one of cooperation. Jammu and Kashmir can become a sovereign entity without an international personality with the ability to participate in various multilateral forums and organizations such as the WTO and the international Olympic committee.
Sovereignty will satisfy Kashmir’s urge for Azadi, a neutral status confirmed by United Nations and guaranteed by India and Pakistan will dispel the apprehension of free Kashmir becoming the future arena for conflicting ideologies and geopolitical interests. Truly this will be a win-win situation for all the three parties; India, Pakistan and J&K. Independent Jammu and Kashmir without an international personality is a distinct possibility, onus lies on the pro-freedom leadership to turn it into a reality. Can they think out of box and clutch firmly fast passing opportunities?
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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