Back to Pak-India equation


Resolving core issues is necessary


India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar recently visited Pakistan. The first such meeting since 2012. Hailed as a step in the right direction by the doves, the baggage between both neighbours is too heavy for one visit to be off-loaded. The issues involved would require a will to resolve the questions and a time-regulated strategy to address the task. Something that has yet eluded those in power.

Handling of issues on a superficial level is neither the answer nor the solution to bridging of the schism. Without doubt, the relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi is of crucial importance in terms of maintaining long lasting peace. However, this equation cannot be achieved without facing and settling the problems that irk both nations, leading as a result to a series of actions and counter-actions that continue making muddy waters muddier.

The chief of the army staff had issued a warning ahead of Mr Jaishankar’s visit, promising a “befitting response” to the provocation alleged at LoC. Or LooC (Line out of Control), as dubbed by a friend of mine. It will be pertinent to keep in mind that the foreign secretary’s visit was not restricted to Pakistan but was a part of a series of visits to the capitals of SAARC countries.

The violations at LoC and issue of International Border of Jammu and Kashmir were part of discussions held. Quoting from The Hindu; the violations at the LoC numbered more than 685, claiming 24 lives in the past eight months alone. The report states, “Pakistan has also accused India of “unprovoked and indiscriminate” firing during the same period, and claims Indian troops have killed several civilians as well as troops along the border.” (March 3, 2015)

In my opinion, the issue of Kashmir will not be resolved by India on its own. No government in India can commit political suicide by giving away part of its territory; even if occupied; to any other nation, least of all its arch-enemy Pakistan. One only needs to consider the fact that as late as 2010, Booker Prize winner, “The God of Small Things” Arundhati Roy in a piece in The Hindu raised a pertinent question upon hearing that a Delhi court had directed the Delhi police to file an FIR against her for waging war against the state. The question involved was Kashmir. Roy states, “Perhaps they should posthumously file a charge against Jawaharlal Nehru too.” She gives a list of quotes by Jawaharlal Nehru to support her stance. Only one is being reproduced below:

“In a letter dated 11th September, 1951, to the UN representative, Pandit Nehru wrote, “The government of India not only reaffirms its acceptance of the principle that the question of the continuing accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India shall be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations but is anxious that the conditions necessary for such a plebiscite should be created as quickly as possible.”

The importance of Kashmir is intrinsic to Pakistan’s survival. The dispute over water is inextricably interlinked with Kashmir. If one recalls, soon after Independence, India had shut off the canals of Central Bari Doab. The result was damage to crops it being the sowing season. I quote from an article by historian Naveed Tajammal, “Two sets of laws govern the water disputes, first is the Harmon Doctrine, named after ”Judson Harmon”, the Attorney General of USA in 1895,when dispute arose between Mexico and USA over the usage of Rio Grande waters. Mexico was a lower riparian, the doctrine above cited gives ”absolute territorial sovereignty” to the upper riparian, as goes the usage of water resources passing through its lands. Though the matter was resolved by a convention held between USA and Mexico on May 21, 1906, by which Mexico got its share of waters… Indus valley river system is an ‘International Drainage Basin’, as the geographical area extends and covers the administrative boundaries of more than two states, from Afghanistan to Chinese administered Tibet, in the North East and to Indian occupied Kashmir. Technically India cannot claim sovereignty over Kashmir as it remains a disputed state, and matter in reference before the world courts, having over a million troops holding it.” (March 6, 2012)

In my recent talk on Voice of America upon the visit of the Indian foreign secretary to Pakistan I had stated that for peace in the region removing the thorns that cause the bleed between both countries is vital for any normalcy of relationship. In light of the fact that US supports India as a card to be used to deter China’s rise in the region; China’s closeness to Pakistan, an unmanageable border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, India’s expansion of Ayni Air Base and the presence at Farkhor Air Base, support of Afghan Northern Alliance are just some of the irritants causing distrust. Of course, this does not mean to state that India does not have her own reservations. She does.

In my op-ed dated September 23, 2013, I had written, “Pakistan and India’s relationship is a factor that will require particular attention owing to its grave impact upon the region especially post 2014 Afghanistan. The recent coming-to-near-blows on the “Line out of control” between Pakistan and India reasserted once again the real issue of Kashmir and water-war simmers just under the surface, waiting to blow up in our faces at any given excuse. Many other grievances have gained roots sprouting from the main ones. These will be resurrected with fresh vengeance in a not-so-new playground; Afghanistan. An inevitable happening for which India is prepared having honed her tools well while Pakistan has been embroiled in the “war on terror” and her multidimensional internal problems. Kashmir has been the point of focus of conflict as the result of British imperialism’s divide-and-rule partition of the subcontinent when it relinquished direct rule in 1947. This issue stands ignored by international forums; a dangerous approach. The only solution is holding of a referendum, also supported by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; in his address at a news conference in September 2010.”

Regional peace is necessary. This will not happen without addressing core issues. In addition; resolving them. QED.


  1. Agreed that plebisite or refrendum is the most vouiable solution for kashmir dispute but as always chances of its happening r too remote. States nuch smaller and less important ( geo-political and economical ) hve got independence like east timor and scotland but we r yet to convince international community. It wud be appreciable if u educate us on the ways and means to be adopted diplomatically ,using our influence to make this dream true.

  2. Resolution of this matter/issue now has more than 3 contenders.
    It would be read with various agreements between British Raj and natives e.g. Kashmir and various parts contiguous.
    Keep the strategy evolved by Late Maj.Gen NAM RAZA into consideration.

  3. Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan will get resolved when India fragments in few years time if left undisturbed from external threats. The process had started after 1996 general elections in India but then Pakistan helped by launching 'Kargil' to take India out of trouble.

    Colonel (retd) Nazir Ahmed


  5. After signing the Indus Water treaty, the question of one international water law or another is off the table. Now, we need to develop capacity where India is deprived of taking advantage of its position to use water as a weapon of war. We can do so, but that kind of vision requires a focused approach to convert our position of disadvantage into a position that is developed by taking proactive steps, developing all potential water dépôt or water storage facilities on our side, to ward off the existential threat in the hands of our opponents. By letting the opponents & the international community know about our red line drawn in case of diversion of water from our three allocated rivers & its consequences, solving the water issue is not an impossible goal to achieve, even if the Kashmir issue lingers on like the issue of Taiwan or it has been so far.

    On the issue of Kashmir, we need to stay firm on its resolution as per the principle agreed at the international level, but this should be done by avoiding our physical intervention by our own non-state actors; reference to our stupid act in Kargil that diluted our genuine stance even further. By removing the perception of Pakistan as an eternal enemy of India, we deprive India having a rallying cry to stand united.


  6. Without developing storages and Dams on our rivers both large and small we will continue to suffer shortages of water and electricity. We shall also remain vulnerable to Indian blackmail on water issues. We are an unfortunate nation with our politicians bent upon destroying the country through opposition to Dams like Kalabagh and passage of Amendments like the 18th which sets up four independent states in many aspects. The quick answer to our miseries is splitting up the current huge provinces into 11 or more provinces which will solve many problems.

    Sent from my iPad

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