Kashmir – the monster of ‘status quo’

By K.N. Pandita – Fifty-nine years of protracted territorial claims and counter claims over the J&K have not lead the two contesting countries anywhere. Three short wars on Kashmir ended indecisively, and the fourth one, now a decade and half old, is as elusive as the previous ones. Pakistan cannot take and India will not give.

The people of Kashmir have lately staked their claim as a party to the dispute forgetting that at the end of their forty-year long struggle against the autocratic rule, and under the leadership of the baba-e qaum, they had, way back in 1947, decided to be a part of Indian Union. Now Pakistan, having sensitised them to the claim, gives them strong “political, diplomatic and moral” support to their separatist movement. India responds by brandishing the stick of six-yearly elections to the legislative assembly, which send in constitutionally formed governments. Pakistan terms the elections as fraud; India gets fairness of elections endorsed by international observers.

Pakistan, through its media and official utterances incites religious or “human rights violation” feelings among the Kashmiris of Srinagar valley prompting them to strikes and dharnas on even the flimsiest of provocation. The masses turn violent and embark on acts of vandalism destroying public and private property. India responds by sanctioning multi-billion development packages, loan remittances, incentives and massive relief – the chains of gold” as Nehru once said.. Kashmiris are contented with eating the cake as well as having it.

Kashmir is Islamised. All policies and programmes, all developmental schemes and administrative and judicial decisions are oriented to local Islam re-named Kashmiriyat. Islam alias Kashmiriyat is the barometer of Kashmir society. New Delhi has compromised with a theocratic state within a secular union. Islam, moderate or radical, extremist or jihads, docile or aggressive, Deobandi or Barelvi, whatever, is acceptable to New Delhi because secularism to Indians means pandering to Muslim vote. New Delhi is complacent with the ethnic cleansing of the valley and to speak a word about it is sacrilege in its lexicon.

Pakistan desperately wants dismantling of status quo in Kashmir. She harangues Americans to unhinge India in Kashmir. However, it is not happening because the Americans have their limitations. Pakistan calls for demilitarisation, self-rule, regional autonomy etc. as themes to begin talks believing that the beginning of talks on Kashmir somehow and somewhere means the beginning of erosion of status quo. New Delhi says stop sending terrorists and we will talk.

Pakistan claims it her right to provide “moral, diplomatic and political” support to Kashmir “freedom movement”. But she shells and bombards her own citizens in towns and habitats in Baluchistan as punishment to their “treason” and labels India’s recognition of Baluch uprising a national liberation movement as violation of international law. India provides proof to the world body of Pakistani intelligence agency’s involvement in Kashmir insurgency but Islamabad pull out the deniability mantra. She declines to accept the captured jihadis as her nationals as she did of her fallen soldiers and jihadis in Kargil war. The war of two intelligence agencies has created the massive Kashmir industry, of whose covert largesse they and their contacts have become big beneficiaries.

Kashmir valley Muslim majority s averse to Indian presence, and Kashmir Hindu displaced persons tell their compatriots in the valley, “ you want to get rid of India and we want to get rid of you”. The people of PoK, whether local or in Diaspora, want to get rid of Pakistani control. But aware of the ruthlessness of Pakistani military in quelling uprisings against the Punjabi dominated regimes, they enjoy the sadism of Kashmir valley youth becoming cannon fodder for the Indian guns. The PoK Diaspora is day- dreaming the “United States of Kashmir” where they would assert without a single sacrifice.

Years of bilateral talks with Pakistan or with Kashmir separatists, the secret negotiations and round tables, talks with so-called mediators like Kathwaris and others lead Kashmiris nowhere. Across the LoC the border has been opened at some specific points. The initial euphoria is over and the handfuls of people who emotionalised their separation have cooled down and become disinterested. The opening of borders has eased nothing and improved nothing.

What then is the fate of Kashmir? A nuclear war between the two countries is discounted. In a conventional war no side is gong to win or lose decisively. No government in New Delhi can part with Kashmir in full or in part; no regime in Pakistan can withdraw its claim on Kashmir. Pakistan will never stop infiltration of armed terrorists; India will continue to hunt them down. The status quo will continue, like it or not. No power on earth can alter it. Therefore the low intensity war in Kashmir is at least a hundred year phenomenon from now and both the countries are geared to it. So must be the people in both the parts of Kashmir. In particular, the ambivalent leadership in the valley must understand that it needs to windup its five-decade long blackmail before the two countries begin to presume the harm that Kashmiri pampered psyche is bringing to them. E-mail K.N. Pandita. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir).

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