A Roadmap for Kashmir
Certain changes can be made to change the things for better
SOLUTION BY AMIT KUSHARI
Last year, after the summer unrest in Kashmir, the government of India appointed three interlocutors to talk to the people of J&K and suggest ways to solve the Kashmir issue. The group visited the state a number of times and held discussions but although a year has passed no report is forthcoming. The people are anxious to know what the group would recommend for solving the vexed Kashmir issue which is pending for the last 64 years and which is not allowing the relationship between Pakistan and India to improve. Since both the countries are armed with nuclear weapons, it is in the long term interest of both India and Pakistan to solve this issue amicably --- with the concurrence of the people of J&K.
However, it is disturbing to note that the interlocutors are wasting their valuable time in non issues as far as the K issue is concerned. For example, talking to Panches and Sarpanches is meaningless because the K issue has absolutely nothing to do with things like delegation of financial and other powers, issues like good administration and governance and democratic decentralisation. It is basically the question of determining the nationhood of Kashmiri Muslims and whether they can live as Indians----and if so what special guarantees and constitutional protections have to be ensured for them. No such constitutional guarantees are required for the Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs of Jammu and Ladakh as there is no dispute regarding their Indianness. The Kashmiri Muslims themselves, however, feel shy to admit these things. Ask any Kashmiri Muslim as to why they do not consider themselves as Indians----they will give you a long answer the crux of which is like this " J&K was never a part of India and we would like to remain separate." He will not admit the real position and give you a truthful answer like this, "Our Kashmir is a 98% Muslim territory and it is located right on the borders of the Darul Islam countries of the Middle East and Central Asia and we would also like to have a Darul Islam country of our own. Don't bracket us with the Indian Muslims because they live far away from Darul Islam and they are surrounded by Hindus and Sikhs----for which they cannot have a dream like ours. Although they could also be having a dream like ours but theirs is not an achievable dream ." All the political parties of Kashmir are shy to tell this truth but in their hearts they know that this is the truth. If being a separate princely state till 1947 is the real cause for Kashmiri separatism then the Hindus Sikhs and Buddhists of J&K who form 32% of the total population would have had the same dream----but they don't. Even the Muslims of Jammu province do not share this dream of independence although they would undoubtedly relish being a part of Darul Islam. The Muslims are 30% of Jammu if Kashmiri Pandits are counted as a part of Jammu after migration. The last census showed Kashmiri Pandits as a part of Kashmir province perhaps under government of India's instructions-thus artificially stepping up the Muslim percentage to 40% in Jammu---but obviously this is not a true picture. The Muslims of Jammu, therefore, know for sure that they cannot be a part of an independent Muslim nation. As a consequence they never came out on the streets shouting for azaadi like the Kashmiris did. They only provided indirect support to the Islamic militants by providing shelter in the caves and by hiding their arms and ammunition in the thick jungles of Jammu.
Anybody who deals with the K issue has to realise that this is basically a question of giving Kashmir a Muslim identity. The interlocutors, therefore, have to basically decide as to what sweeping constitutional amendments are required for keeping Kashmir as an Indian state---merging Jammu and Ladakh with India fully. This is not an impossible task, it is an achievable goal. The Kashmiris will have to be given a feeling of living in a Darul Islam state although the country as a whole may be secular. Making Kashmir a semi independent buffer state ( India retaining Defence and External Affairs) is just a first step. The Prime Minister of Kashmir and the parliament of Kashmir should be given the authority to decide as to what extent Kashmir will adopt Islamic laws. Just two pre conditions -- the parliament and P.M. must be elected by the people and the minority Pundits must get equal rights and full protection. Today India is bleeding because of some violent groups. Organisations like HUJI and Indian Mujahideen are making the innocent Indians bleed. At this juncture my suggestions would appear to be outrageous to Indians but in the long run this may bring permanent peace between India and Pakistan. One should, therefore, consider my suggestions with a cool head instead of throwing it out of the window. After all how will Indians suffer if the government of Kashmir takes a few innocuous and harmless decisions to give the people a little bit of mental peace. For example, Fridays could be made holidays instead of Sundays so that the people can offer `Zohar' prayers at peace without the haste of running back to office. They could sit down for half an hour more for listening to the Khutba. If the government of Kashmir arranges for a Kashmir airways to fly from Srinagar to Islamabad, Karachi, Dubai and Muscat---what harm will befall the Indians?
Goa was independent before 1956 but the Catholics of Goa never wanted Azaadi. The people of Hyderabad and Junagarh never asked for independence although they had been independent before 1948. These facts will also corroborate my contentions. In view of this I feel that government of India should form a committee of 10 persons, five of whom should be Kashmiri Muslims, to suggest what sweeping constitutional amendments should be brought to keep the Kashmiris in India happy and contented. The remaining five members could be constitutional experts and Islamic scholars. I have not intentionally made any comment about Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The P.M. of Kashmir could take up the matter with their P.M. if he feels like doing so. The people there are 100 percent Muslims and they are living in a Darul Islam country. They may not have any serious problem.
Feedback to the author at 09748635185 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(Amit Kushari (IAS Retd) is former financial Commissioner, J&K)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 22 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 22 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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