Kashmir heading for Resolution

“Like Ripe Fruit Solution Will Fall in the Basket of History”

PUNCHLINE By Z. G. Muhammad
Publish Date: Sep 8 2008 12:00PM

It is ripe time. So I believe.  It is not believing in the make-believe world- if I say that it is ripe time for finding a solution of the Kashmir dispute. It is mood outside the establishment, in and around New Delhi that makes me say that it is not opposite but apposite  time for resolving the dispute that has caused directly and indirectly three wars and scores of battles in the region.  Billions of dollars that could have changed economic scenario of the sub-continent and made India really shinning were sent down the drain during the war. It has but for the dispute over Kashmir that the two countries have been maintaining largest armies beyond their means.  “The Indian Army has a total troop strength of around 2.5 million (1.3 million active and 1.2 million reserve) and is the third largest standing army in the world.”  And “Pakistan approximately 620,000 personnel are on active duty in the military which is the world’s seventh largest armed force as of 2007. Combined with the 302,000 strong Paramilitary forces and the Coast Guard, the Military of Pakistan has a total size of nearly 1,000,000 personnel.”  Spending on military both in India and Pakistan if  computed dispassionately they would work out to be quite huge, sufficient to change the plight of teeming millions living a sub-human life in the two countries.
 The thinking that it has been but for the perpetuation of Kashmir dispute that has been making hundreds of millions of people living in rural and tribal areas of India continue to live a life of denials of food, medicine and mal-nutrition has been gaining strength. It has been these denials that have been bring more and more areas from one corner of India to another corner under the ambit of what is termed as the red-corridor. The red-corridor movement that   ‘nonetheless, Indian policymakers recognize as “red belt” runs within the subcontinent, from the Uttar Pradesh-Bihar border with Nepal in the north, through West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. According to official reports thirteen states and 170 districts (out of 604) are affected by this movement. This movement as put by an Indian analyst has been attracting like swarms peasants, dalits and tribal population. It is considered opinion that this problem is posing a serious threat to India’s national security than many other problems.
 It is this feeling that has been gaining strength outside the corridors of power in the capital. This feeling got sharpened in the Indian capital after millions came on streets all over Kashmir demanding right to self-determination. Many leading lights amongst Indian intelligentsia one after another pleaded for conceding the demands of people of Kashmir. It is not just Arundhati Roy, Swaminathan Aiyar or Vir Sanghvi who strongly advocated granting of right to self-determination to people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir but the surveys conducted by various organization in the capital overwhelmingly supported granting of ‘Azadi’ to those demanding the same.
 This scenario is far different than the one that prevailed in 1947. In 1947, when India and Pakistan were born as Independent dominions the state of Jammu and Kashmir which spread over 84000 sq miles could not decide its future like many other princely states like Khairpur, Swat, Kalat, Les Bela, Kharan, Makran, Dir and Chitral that fell within the catchment of Pakistan by 15 August 1947. According to the  partition plan of India for its population being more than eighty percent Muslim and its borders being more than seventy five percent contiguous with Pakistan the state of Jammu and Kashmir qualified to part of the newly born dominion. This opinion has been held by many independent historians like Alastair Lamb, “ As far the two new dominions were concerned, the Hindu Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, could, despite more than three quarters of his subjects being Muslim, with some degree of realism according to the provision of the British statement of 12 May 1946 consider accession to India to either India and Pakistan. The geographical and economic links between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan, however, were rather  better than with India”. It would be rather too naïve to think that the Indian leadership particularly first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru was not conscious of these realities. Then the question arises then why despite father of Indian nation Mahatma Gandhi’s  pleading for not squandering money of rural poor on Kashmir  and even stating “in Kashmir, India was recklessly throwing away its fortune while ignoring the needs of its ‘starving millions”, Nehru was passionate for bringing Kashmir within the fold of India. Other than the much trumpeted Nehru’s love for his ancestral land that his forefathers had left more than three centuries back to serve the Moughals what had prompted Nehru to see Kashmir joining India was his being under the influence of a group of intellectuals that called themselves as progressive. 
 A group of these progressive intellectuals had  associated itself with Kashmir struggle against feudal autocracy immediately after  the 1931 mass upsurge but it got more actively involved after 1938 when the Muslim Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah was renamed as the National Conference. This group of communist intellectuals not only influenced the movement against the feudal autocracy but created its own constituency within the National Conference. It took leaders of this party to its training camps in Lahore and other parts of India debriefed them and baptized them with their ideology. It was this constituency as history unfolds that served India’s interests in Kashmir. This section of intellectuals convinced Nehru that Kashmir was the laboratory for testing socialist ideas. These communists’ intellectuals and ideologues who owed greater allegiance to Soviet Russia vitiated atmosphere for holding of a plebiscite in Kashmir. They created a scare about the outcome of plebiscite paving way for creating of pro-West bases in Kashmir. Inside Kashmir it was their constituency that played a dubious role in adding complexity to the Kashmir problem by eroding state autonomy.  These “socialist” in Kashmir worked in tandem with Hindutva outfits in continuing uncertainty in the state.
 What has been strengthening my belief that as compared to fifties, sixties even after the time was ripe for resolution of the Kashmir problem are one, the changed mind set in New Delhi’s constituencies in Kashmir? Most of the pro-India parties within Kashmir instead of remaining tethered to their theories of “accession was irrevocable” have very subtly been pleading for azadi varied degrees. Second, India of 2008 is different than the India of 1947 when it romanced with soviet made socialist ideas. India’s intellectual whatever his ideology is looking forward for ‘shinning idea’, a power that does not bask in the reflected glory of the West but wields real power. This he believes cannot be achieved through hundreds of thousands of empty stomachs and stark naked skeletons. It is perpetuation Kashmir because he has started thinking as responsible for the poverty of millions that are becoming faster territory of red corridor. It is this feeling of seeing India as real super-power that has made people like Pankaj Mishra, Arundhati Roy, Ajit Bhattacharjea, Vir Sanghvi, Swaminathan and many others making bold statements even pleading for granting of Azadi to Kashmir. These are not discordant but real patriotic voices indicative of the national mood. It is this mood that makes me believe will that will propel India’s future Kashmir policy. And it is out of this mood that like  a ripe fruit Kashmir solution will fall in the basket of history. 

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