How will the valley find peace?
Nature has blessed the valley of Kashmir with an inimitable class of charm, exquisiteness and splendor ; scenes of, rich verdant mountain sides, snow covered tops gleaming in one side, lush green fields, crystal clear springs, glittering rivers, roaring waterfalls and singing larks are tremendously mesmerising. Air is so clear there that one is often misled about the distance of objects, considering them much nearer than they actually are. Glimpse of this wild desolate haunt of nature is a magnificent sight, surrounded as it is by snow-peaks, like a diadem or an amphitheatre of Zeus, the Greek god.
Since 1947 the people of this beautiful valley (IHK) are continuously battling against episodes of state sponsored terrorism, torture, extra-judicial killings, unjust persecution and horrendous war crimes. Kashmiris inherent right to self determination has become a pipedream; one gets, astounded by scenes of unchecked Indian brutalities, disturbed by non-seriousness of our ruling elite and perturbed by indifferent attitude of international community.
For how long Kashmir would be simmering pot and a flash point for a nuclear holocaust between the two neighboring countries? This is a question, which haunted the minds of all those who remained part of the problem and also, paradoxically, tried to solve it, though, for outward consumption of the International community or the local inhabitants, but, without any success. After partition, many formulas, to solve the jig-saw through open or back door diplomacy between India and Pakistan, were tested but all proved a far cry.
To search answers for the questions posed above, one needs to dig down the historical underpinnings of the problem. In October 1947, in the backdrop of massive riots taking place across the borders especially in both Punjabs and Dehli, Liaquat Ali Khan arrived in Dehli to attend a meeting where Mountbatten was in the Chair and the moot issue was how to defuse the Junagadh crisis. Nehru suggested that India would accept the results of any free and fair plebiscite or referendum of Junagadhs’ citizens, asking them which dominion they preferred to join. Mountbatten immediately pointed out that, as a statement of policy, Nehru’s offer would apply to any other state whose accession remained in doubt. A vote would obviously go India’s way in huge Hyderabad; both there and in Junagadh, Hindus outnumbered Muslims four to one.
But there remained a last kingdom that had yet not allied with either dominion. Nehru nodded his head sadly; Liaquat Ali’s eyes sparkled. Mountbatten wrote afterward describing the scene for the King. “And there is no doubt that the same thought was in each of their minds: ‘Kashmir”. However, despite Nehru’s outward friendly gestures and advocacy of democratic values, Kashmir problem remained unresolved. Nehru’s non-resolution legacy of Kashmir issue remained the policy of every successive Indian Government and mantras of Kashmir being the inseparable India resonated at all forums.
The legend of Burhan Wani and the unremitting defiance which the Kashmiris are presently posing cannot be overlooked; India must realise that the current movement is overwhelmingly native and it cannot be squeezed by force or phony propaganda. Indisputably the indigenous freedom movement as now has blown into full scale ‘Intifada’ and Kashmiri youth are writing the freedom history not only with sustained toil but with bloodletting in every street and house of occupied Kashmir. In past, India has successfully portrayed the movement as ignited and funded by Pakistan through proxies, but this time due to profoundly indigenous origin of struggle, it has now becoming increasingly difficult for India to hide behind the rhetoric of cross border terrorism.
India’s current stance on Kashmir is slowly losing its weight as the international media has started exposing ruthless atrocities and human rights violations of Indian forces in the valley. Kashmiri youth are up against the mighty killing machine of India, gradually the world community is starting to realise the gravity of the situation, however, still a lot needs to be done as the International community is not sufficiently forthcoming and India is not feeling any heightened pressure to come to terms with rapidly changing ground realities in Kashmir.
Pakistan has an apt opportunity to expose the Indian wickedness and enlighten the world about the genuineness of the movement and let India face international condemnation and embarrassment. However, if Pakistan continues with the mantra of Bad versus Good Talban/proxies, then the price for this policy is ‘International Isolation’. The self-proclaimed custodians and non state actors driven by self-interests should not be allowed to dictate foreign policy formulation of Pakistan. If Pakistan at this critical juncture is left isolated, then, India would be better placed to sell to the World, that the freedom struggle in Kashmir is not indigenous rather Pakistan sponsored proxy war. This idea, though sham, will be readily accepted by those powers that have soft corner for India and thus Kashmir cause will adversely suffer on international arena.
India needs to be reminded of the fact that magnification of isolation theory will not cloak the heinous crimes it is committing in Kashmir. This isolation theory got latest thrashing in the recent held BRICS summit in Goa, India wherein Modi tried to highlight Indian grievances against Pakistan and its involvement in Uri attack. However, Modi’s efforts were backfired when no member of the BRICS was really seen impressed by Modi to drag the group into speaking against Pakistan.
Furthermore, India’s stance that that Kashmir issue is bilateral and needs to be fixed by India and Pakistan is flawed as past history of seventy years of wars, dialogues and broken dialogues leave very little optimism that Kashmiris would in near future get the right of self-determination unless international powers plays an active role towards its fulfillment.
In Pakistan, although the media in general and social media in particular is often abuzz with the news on Kashmir, but the recent history of General Elections held in 2013 reflect otherwise; during election campaigns, Kashmir issue was hardly the main focus of any major political party. The seriousness of the sitting Parliamentarians can be gauged from the fact that only 19% backed the ‘Unanimous Kashmir Resolution’ in recent held joint sitting of the Parliament. Nominal attendance and the nonchalant attitude of the Parliamentarians in taking the issue and debate seriously are not only deplorable but also do not augur well to send the message across the border and to the International community about our collective seriousness on the issue.
Kashmir cause to a great extent has also suffered due to extreme hatreds both countries relish in the aftermath of partition whereby millions of people belonging to various faiths were butchered, mutilated and displaced. Surely, this nonsensical mayhem created the long lasting psychological effects of indelible nature in the minds of the populace of those areas who suffered the most i.e. Punjab. Amid war hysteria and nationalistic cries, atmosphere for fruitful dialogue has never come into existence; as a result, the only solution to Kashmir issue which has been preached is warfare.
Both the neighbors need to realise gravity of the situation and join hands for peaceful solution through dialogues and only dialogues, and let sanity prevail instead of emotions and jingoism. Hawks in India (Modi himself, media personnel like Goswami, Shiv Sena) and Pakistan (Punjabi establishment and its offshoots) are living under a wrong impression that a full-fledged war between both the countries will determine who will eventually prevail, any future misadventure between two nuclear countries will be tragedy of the most grievous kind as there will be no conquerors; only thing left behind will be masses living in abject poverty and wretched state of affairs, in case, if they are able to survive the catastrophe. As Bertrand Russell rightly said “War does not determine who is right-only who is left”.