Updated May 26, 2010 / 22.00 MEZ-time
By K.N. Pandita
Once again the Prime Minister has guffawed into frugality of talking to any or all groups with stakes in Kashmir issue in a bid to push New Delhi’s borrowed agenda for the solution of Kashmir tangle.
Pressure from Washington is unrelenting, and soft lobbies at the PMO are willing to go more than a mile to accommodate the Americans. This is closely linked to the ground situation in Af-Pak region. President Obama has urgency to bring the Afghan misadventure to a finale, grand or ignominious, and pull back before climate for 2012 elections warms up.
In no case is Washington prepared to think pragmatically about AF-Pak situation being blindfolded in pursuing her close selfish interests. In the process, it sticks to the six-decade old desk book formula of putting all eggs in Pakistan’s basket; money, weapons, debt waivers and now Kashmir. It is a piece of brazen diplomacy how Washington is nibbling at India’s sovereignty over the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In response to Pakistan’s wolf cries of “violation of human rights in Kashmir” Washington, too, plays the second fiddle raising the issues privately or indirectly at various platforms and in bilateral talks. More surprising, instead of putting up strong resistance and refutation, New Delhi sheepishly succumbs to the American vitriolic.
Who will the PM speak to in Kashmir? And what will he speak? We know that with the intensification of American pressure, New Delhi has been making a brilliant exercise of self-deception. It has been subtly pushing the 1994 Parliamentary resolution under carpet, which stipulates that India has the ability and will to take back the part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan. In violation of UN resolutions, Pakistan has diluted the status quo by ceding nearly 5000 square kilometres of Indian Territory in Aksaichin to China. Pakistan has illegally integrated Gilgit and Baltistan into her territory and renamed it Northern Areas. Pakistan has built the Karakorum Highway connecting her to China through Indian Territory in Jammu and Kashmir Sate. Pakistan has allowed China to establish strategically important observation-cum-information posts along the Karakorum Highway, which pose a serious threat to the security of India’s northern border. Pakistan has built strong defence installations along the LoC in J&K, which is in contravention of the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Pakistan has openly and repeatedly said that she will extend all help to Kashmiri insurgents short of military help although the fact is that she provides not only military support but has also raised dozens of training camps all along the LoC in her part of occupied Kashmir where subversives receive training in arms and bomb attacks. The world is aware of the existence of these camps and aerial pictures taken by various intelligence agencies testify to it. These training camps have produced international terrorist legions now active in most parts of the world.
In Kashmir, all shades of political opinion converge on pro-Pakistan propensity among the Kashmiris. This cannot be ignored. But there is a limit to everything and a state cannot be held hostage in perpetuity to something emanating from religious fervour and zeal. A time comes when a spade is to be called by its proper name. Kashmiri separatists and secessionists drawing all round support from a belligerent neighbour cannot be allowed to disrupt harmonious communal fabric of the Indian sub-continent. If democratic and secular dispensation richly protected and safeguarded by constitutional provisions was not in place, Kashmir separatist had reason to take up arms against the state. They know and need not be assured that the amount and quality of freedom they enjoy is not to be met with in any Islamic country in the world much less in the neighbouring country. But this realization has to be made a reality by reacting to the political chemistry available.
If certain political parties have established networks to win public vote in elections, this phenomenon has nothing to do with the accession of the state to the Indian Union. It is entirely an internal matter of the State. When late Sheikh Abdullah fielded his party for elections to State Constituent Assembly, National Conference won all but one of the 72 seats. That and he Constitution it framed were acceptable to the people of the State. Today NC has no monopoly and several other political parties have sprung up who stake for elections to the Legislative Assembly. This augurs well for the future of the State, as a strong opposition is a pre-requisite of stout democratic exercise.
Furthermore, some of the active political parties are confidently soft towards Pakistan for one reason or the other although that softness often borders on unfriendly stance towards Indian nation. Yet in true democratic spirit, these parties enjoy the freedom of speech and expression. It is the victory of democracy, and the State will certainly prosper with a stable democratic dispensation in place.
In economic sector, it is the local government, which must come forward with major development plans and projects. Without inviting mega investment from Indian business sector, the State cannot become self-sufficient and cannot generate employment for the educated unemployed. The government is the biggest employer and has indeed taken great strides in recruiting the youth to government jobs. But this is not the solution of the problem of unemployment either in the State or in other parts of the country. Unemployment can be removed only through massive industrialization of the State without jeopardizing its ecology. Efficiency to run private enterprises will create work culture, which unfortunately is lacking in the state at the time.
Separatist and secessionists have the grouse that New Delhi is not serious about talks with them and what it does is only an eye wash to buy time. In a sense this complaint is not devoid of truth. We have had scores and scores of meetings on various levels, overt as well as covert, in and outside the country. But the result of these parleys at the end of the day is mere procrastination. How long will appeasement go when the future of the nation is involved?
New Delhi needs to come out of the shell of escapism. It is an obsolete game of antiquated diplomacy or statecraft. It must come out with clear and unambiguous policy of reasserting J&K as an integral part of the Indian Union. It must vigorously call for recovery of the illegally occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the unanimous parliamentary resolution of 1994. It must reiterate its right and will to recover the territory at a time convenient to her. It must politely ask the US to de-link Kashmir from her AF-Pak policy and stop interfering in matters sensitive to her internal and external security. India should initiate a massive northern regions security plan to thwart hostile moves by Sino-Pak axis.
And last not the least, New Delhi should make it clear to all negotiating partners in Kashmir that the first and foremost condition of any meaningful talk is the return and rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons from Kashmir valley, and other parts of the state. It has to assert that ethnic cleansings are highly injurious to Indian Union and cannot be tolerated. Its importance lies in securing the secular fabric of India and in the larger interests of the vast Indian Muslim community whose avowed nationalism has been the sheet anchor of India’s secular structure. Kashmiri Muslims have to be part of that secularist dispensation even with Kashimriyat as their watchword.