Be realistic and hope disputes are solved
ANALYSIS BY NAYEEMA AHMAD MAHJOOR
For the first time in my career as a journalist, I was more interested in watching a movie than keeping track of a big event in South Asia: Zardari's new idea of Dargah diplomacy. Like my politically alert and conscious Kashmiri brethren I have also come to realise that it is neither Zardari's jurisdiction nor Manmohan Singh's capacity to resolve the issues that have kept haunting billions of people in the Subcontinent for the last six decades. In fact, those billions are pieces on a chess board, with the important chess players never seen in the public and never making a public display of their Chanakya politics.
This raises the question: if the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan are not capable of sorting out the Kashmir issue, then who is? History after partition is witness to the fact that Congress has always proved weak every time the party has been confronted with the Kashmir issue. It has never been straightforward in resolving the problem. For the first five decades of independence Kashmir was simply a trump card for its vote bank policy.
Currently, when the ruling party is so fragile and its coalition with local parties is on the brink of collapse, how is it possible that Congress would have the resolve to sort out the most complex problem of the Subcontinent? The power centre of the party lies in Race Course Road where an Italian born widow of the Nehru Dynasty doesn't want to face the anger of the patriotic voters of the country. Nor is there any chance that the heir apparent of the dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, would be courageous enough to take a stand against the political stalwarts of the Congress who are known for their nationalistic attitude when it comes to issues such as Kashmir. The party is in a weak position at the moment due to its debacle in recent state elections. That debacle must have forced it to rethink internal and external policies, including Kashmir, so as not to alienate voters by appearing unpatriotic.
Would BJP resolve Kashmir if it comes to power? Had it been headed by Vajpayee I would have had no hesitation in saying that only the BJP can resolve Kashmir. Many prominent and senior analysts can vouch for that, including those who accompanied Vajpayee on his many missions to resolve Kashmir. Unfortunately, due to his age and internal BJP politics Vajpayee was forced to vacate the helm for the next rung of leadership such as Advani. Even then, it is precisely because of its Hindutva agenda that the BJP has the capacity, more than the self-avowedly secular parties, to resolve the Kashmir issue with seriousness and earnestness.
As for Pakistan, Zardari, being an elected politician, is unlikely to be so strong as to take on the powerful institution of the Army. The loss of Bangladesh has left an indelible stain on the PPP's record. Democratic governments have always been subservient to the Army, much like many governments in Kashmir are to government in Delhi. Only the military government in Pakistan has the authority and jurisdiction to solve the Kashmir tangle. It is only once that South Asia has come close to the situation in which both countries are ruled by the constituencies who have the capacity to resolve Kashmir: BJP in India and the Army in Pakistan. It was General Musharraf who took a bold stand against his own institution when he visited Agra to chalk out a deal with Vajpayee and when he later proposed his four point formula on Kashmir. It is this four point formula that has now been internationally accepted as a viable formula for resolving Kashmir. General Musharraf risked quite a lot by contemplating the possibility of relinquishing Pakistan's age-old stand of implementing the UN resolutions. His formula took a long time for Pakistan's various forces and constituencies to digest and accept.
A few years back in London during my brief meeting with the late Benazir Bhutto, I was startled by her revelations that Kashmir policy is not made in the National Assembly, but framed in the General Headquarters of the Army where elected representatives are hardly given permission to attend. It is also generals who are foreign policy makers rather than the elected representatives irrespective of whether the country has democracy or martial law.
Amid this quagmire it is hardly any surprise that Zardari most likely took instructions for his India visit from none other than General Kiyani. For the Kashmir to get resolved, people have to wait for the chance occurrence of a strong military leader emerging in Pakistan with a liberal mindset like Musharraf's who is intent on resolving Kashmir combined with the emergence of a straightforward leader from the BJP who becomes prime minister.
There are also external factors that play a crucial role in regional South Asian politics. Do the de facto big brothers of the Subcontinent want the issues between the two neighbours to get resolved? Before Zardari started his visit to India, the declaration of a bounty on Hafiz Saeed was not only an embarrassment to Zardari but a big insult to those who had worked hard to bring the two neighbours together on a friendship path.
Washington's influence in South Asia can only be countered by China but this emerging economic giant hardly shows any interest in Kashmir politics. It does not want to bring up the Tibetan issue to the fore, nor does it want to alienate trading partners including the United States and India. China might be very close to Pakistan but it has only one agenda close to its heart at the moment and that is to keep its economic growth expanding.
One visible change amid this political discourse seems that Kashmir has moved away from Pakistan and has not shown much interest in the visit of a Pakistani leader to India. What Kashmiri leadership needs to do is to look beyond remote controlling headquarters here and there and join together to find a realistic approach in order to get out of the regional power politics for which Kashmir has lost its three generations.
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Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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