Solving the Kashmir Problem

India and Pakistan have now strong and stable governments. The leaders in both countries claim to be people friendly. There cannot be a better opportunity than this to solve the most intractable problem of Kashmir!
Solving the Kashmir Problem
Imran-Modi partnership: Hope the two restore peace to the region

The recent elections have thrown up Narendra Modi as theuncontested leader of the 1.3 billion people of India. He has shown that he hastotal hold on the majority of the Indian population. He has also shown that heenjoys the support of the Army. That gives him the power to take any decisionfor the country which would have the total backing of the people. Alreadyduring his earlier tenure he took some revolutionary decisions. No doubt thepresent election was won on heightened religious sentiments and emotions, yethe has not given up mobilizing the corporate and industrial sector to enablehim to redeem the earlier goals. On the other side of the border Imran Khanenjoys almost the same status even though to a lesser extent as regards generalpopularity because of his failure to deliver the economic promises.  However, he enjoys the complete trust andsupport of the army. Any decision taken by him would stand. The combination ofthese two leaders without any self-interest presents an ideal opportunity to sortout all the problems in various fields between these two countries includingthe most intractable problem of Kashmir.

Kashmir has become a real bleeding tragedy over last fewdecades. It has been turned into a virtual whipping boy by the two sub-continentalneighbours who have been using it to settle their scores at the cost of thelocal people. Kashmiris have become guinea pigs for testing the two politicalideologies. The vested interests especially from abroad have made the problemso complicated that the two immediate contenders are unable to move forward onany practical solution. The worst sufferers are the unfortunate residents ofthis disputed land whose future hangs in a balance. In fact, right from 1947when the sub-continent was divided by the departing British the wound ofKashmir was engineered by them to keep the entire sub-continent bleeding andlooking towards the west for healing the wounds. The entire exercise was tokeep a hold on the colony they had to quit after 200 years because of their owncollapse caused by the Second World War. Divide and rule has been their policyfrom the earlier times. Napoleon had called the British a nation of shopkeeperswhich they have proved to be everywhere! For the sub-continent their mainmerchandise after their departure has been the lethal arms of all types!

This artificially created problem has eaten away theprecious resources of both the countries. The money which was urgently neededfor ameliorating the lot of the majority of population on both sides has beenchannelized into weapons of destruction including those of mass destruction.The only gainers have been the beneficiaries of conflict on the two sides. Onthe occasion of the declaration of the results, Imran Khan greeted NarendraModi for this tremendous victory. The two leaders spoke and expressed thedesire to start a dialogue for peace. The history has afforded them a brilliantopportunity which they must seize in the interests of peace and progress notonly for the sub-continent but for entire South Asia.

However, for any constructive and meaningful dialogue thebasic requirement is to create a conducive atmosphere. The immediate first stepthey can take is to open the sub-continent's "Berlin Wall" which has completelyisolated the two populations from each other. Why can't India and Pakistan havesoft borders like the European Union the members of which in earlier timesdestroyed each other through destructive world wars! The populations on twosides have same sentiments, same basic problems and virtually common culture.The people who have been travelling to two sides have felt at home in eachcountry. The lifting of barriers and allowing totally free exchange of people,ideas and goods can bring a revolution to the sub-continent. The same holdsgood for the two artificially divided parts of Kashmir. This had been witnessedat the time of starting the Line of Control Bus and Cross LOC Trade, both ofwhich have recently been stopped.

The part which has suffered most because of this bleedingtragedy is Kashmir. Before the start of any dialogue the situation here toowill have to be eased out. Violence on all sides has to be ended. Opportunityfor expressing any ideas freely has to be provided. Dialogue with allstakeholders has to be initiated for the ultimate resolution of the problem.Apart from violence, the entire area has been suffering from lack of effectivegovernance involving responsive and effective administration. This aspect tooneeds to be looked into. The ideas may seem utopian in the prevailingcircumstances. However, if the ultimate peace is to be the goal, these need tobe put into practice. There is no better opportunity than the present time todo that!

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