The Sovereign Imperative
This is the primary law of Nature
OTHER OPINION BY PAUL BARROW
"When patriotism is discountenanced and public virtue becomes the ridicule of the sycophant," Elbridge Gerry wrote in 1788, "when every man of liberality, firmness and penetration who cannot lick the hand stretched out to oppress, is deemed an enemy to the State—then is the gulph of despotism set open, and the grades to slavery, though rapid, are scarce perceptible. "Self defence is a primary law of nature," he wrote, "which no subsequent law of society can abolish."
Elbridge Gerry, who was born on July 17, 1744, was the fifth Vice President of the United States of America from March 4, 1813 until his death, November 23, 1814.
"On these shores," he wrote, "freedom has planted her standard, dipped in the purple tide that flowed from the veins of her martyred heroes; and here every uncorrupted American yet hopes to see it supported by the vigour, the justice, the wisdom and unanimity of the people." The "purple tide," of course, is the very life of man, his individuality, his blood, his determination to be, that "sovereign imperative" to create being within a definable set of conditions which describes him, give him his unique identity, and his life as he sees fit free from imposition or intrusion by others.. The sovereign imperative describes the desire to plant himself on his own two feet with the sense that he owns himself and is under no obligation to anyone beyond what he negotiates on his own terms. Gerry served under President James Madison, the father of the Bill of Rights. When the Bill of Rights was submitted to the states for ratification in September 1789, they represented twelve possible amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Only the last ten were ratified in 1891.
It is quite evident that the various state congresses, obliged to consider ratification, were a bit too aristocratic to accept the first proposed amendment, which stated that " there be prefixed to the constitution a declaration, that all power is originally rested in, and consequently derived from, the people." The prevailing view, which had been handed down by the Roman Catholic Church and one most people had long accepted, was that power originated in the divine ordination of the Pope, and secondarily in the king, who would not have been king had it not been for, or aside from that of the bejeweled cleric, a matter of divine intervention in the affairs of man.
Gerry himself wrote in On patriotism and the power of the People that "man is born free and possessed of certain unalienable rights—that government is instituted for the protection, safety and happiness of the people, and not for the profit, honour, or private interest of any man, family, or class of men. "That the origin of all power is in the people, and that they have an incontestible right to check the creatures of their own creation, vested with certain powers to guard the life, liberty and property of the community."
In February 2010 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a group of visiting Arab Journalists who had raised questions about the conflict in Kashmir, "We reject the idea that any religion or cause can be used to justify violence against innocent people." He added, "There is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the issues that divide us."
While we have yet to see anything resembling serious dialogue among all the parties in the dispute over the sovereignty of Kashmir, dialogue is just how the will of the people is expressed. Societies obviously don't spring up all by themselves because people hunger for domination under monarchies, dictatorships or pseudo-democracies that have become corporate feudalist states. They occur out of dialogue that begins between two free individuals and expands into a larger community as these two individuals make agreements with more and more people on how to live comfortably together, share resources and contribute to the good of the others. India and Pakistan obviously have nothing to say regarding the will of the people of Kashmir. This was left up to the people to decide when India and Pakistan signed UN resolution 47 in 1948 that noted "with satisfaction that both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite." That ruling adopted by the Security Council and agreed to by both India and Pakistan is one that cannot be voided by any subsequent action involving any party, actor, military general or prime minister. Any further decisions regarding the future of Kashmir must take into account the will of the people. Agreements cannot be ignored that have granted fundamental liberties.
The right of sovereignty is a universal standard that cannot be set aside by India, Pakistan, the U.S., Israel or any other commercial interest. When the sale of Boeing aircraft must take precedence over obligations to people who are taxed to pay for them, and whose wives and mothers and sons lay bloodied in the streets of Srinagar for want of the very basic of needs: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; "then is the gulph of despotism set open, and the grades to slavery, though rapid, are scarce perceptible."
All communities have very democratic roots. All power within them originates in collective bargaining and agreements that serve the interests of all. The legitimacy of democratic process in determining the will of the people is self-evident. Evolution toward states which have corrupted these processes with layers of elite and prejudiced self-interest are evolutions toward revolution, because they depart from the very conditions which made them legitimate.
Representative systems that are intended to be a substitute for direct democratic process such as this invariably become corrupt because they create an elite whose interests are no longer primarily those of their respective constituencies but rather primarily interested in holding and sustaining their own elite status. The congresses Americans had elected in Madison's time were already beginning to see themselves regally adorned with divine attributes when they rejected Madison's first amendment.
The entrenched powers that Kashmir deals with in attempting to exert the will of the people unfortunately have long historical roots that have evolved out of just such elitist traditions which those who have stolen power from them have maintained for their own benefit. The Maharaja clearly indicated in the following statement on January 31, 1948, that his primary motivation for acceding to India was not simply protection from Pakistan or to protect the rights of the people of Kashmir but the preservation of his "dynasty."
As the name and reputation of the Indian army, having difficulty holding its positions against Pakistan, is "getting into the mud," he complains in a letter to Sardar Patel, a longtime close associate of Mohandas Gandhi, and then newly independent India's Home Minister who was responsible for persuading Singh to accede to India, "My position in this matter is also precarious. You know I definitely acceded to the Indian Union with the idea that the Union will not let us down and the State would remain acceded to the Union and my position and that of my dynasty would remain secure. It was for this reason that I accepted the advice of the Indian Union in the matter of internal administration. If we have to go to Pakistan, it was wholly unnecessary to accede to India or to mould the internal administration according to the desire of the Indian Union. ....... Sometimes I feel that I should withdraw the accession that I have made to the Indian Union. The Union provisionally accepted the accession, and if the Union cannot recover back our territory and is going eventually to agree to the decision of the Security Council which would result in handing us over to Pakistan, then there is no point in sticking to the accession of the State to the Indian Union. For the time being, it may be possible to have better terms from Pakistan, but that is immaterial, because eventually it would mean an end of the dynasty and end of the Hindus and Sikhs in the State."
Obviously, Hari Singh could not undo what he did, and Kashmir has since come under the domination of a huge unwieldly bureaucracy that has the same difficulty as the United States' state congresses did in seeing that will of the people should not be ignored. Since the world powers have not acknowledged the peaceful and non violent processions of the Kashmiri youth, and none of their demands have been met, the stone pelters of last summer's uprising are likely to return, because as Elbridge Gerry wrote, "Self defence is a primary law of nature which no subsequent law of society can abolish." In Kashmir, the culture of resistance has long been established. Today's stone pelters have known nothing but resistance since they were born. Resistance is at the very core of their raison d'etre.
While it has often been said that the realistic solution is for Kashmir to accept integral status with India, it should also be recognized that 64 years of resistance is clear evidence that it is not realistic for either India or Pakistan to consider the incorporation of Kashmir within their respective boundaries. The will of the people has long been recognized. 90 to 95 % people in Kashmir want independence. It is not a question of compromise. It is a question of acknowledging fundamental need which all people demand and will never relinquish. It is also a question of honoring a commitment India made to the Kashmiris themselves which they do not of themselves have a right to revoke. The right to determine one's own future and to live within customs and traditions one chooses must be the alternative and it is the only rational choice to make in this conflict.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
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