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Pakistan’s argument that   India should not open the “disputed Siachin”  ( (Asian Age 18 Sept.) to the tourists is untenable. Northern Areas, especially Gilgit under Pakistan’s illegal occupation is part of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir under Indian sovereignty. Pakistan being in its illegal occupation threw it open to tourists long back.  Nearly five thousand kilometers of Indian territory in Aksaichin under Pakistan’s illegal occupation was thrown open not only to the tourists but also to the Chinese technical as well as intelligence personnel when Pakistan and China collaborated to build the Karakorum Highway across it. India protested. Furthermore, when after cease fire in Kargil, talks were held between the two countries on withdrawal and related matters, Pakistan put forth the argument that many foreign tourist  had obtained Pakistan tourism ministry’s permission and trekked over several peaks along the Karakorum in Siachin range. On the basis of that Pakistan claimed sovereignty over those peaks and regains. This means Pakistan had clandestinely thrown open the Karakorum heights to foreign tourists. As such she has no right to object to India doing the same albeit not secretly but openly.

Kashinath Pandit, New Delhi

By email, 18.09.2007

Kashmir through fire and brimstone

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Written on September 10th, 2007, by K.N. Pandita

The landlocked cold Himalayan region of Kashmir has, for the most part of her history, gone through spells of harsh economic slump and natural calamities like floods, famine and pestilence. The plight of the people has been exacerbated by intermittent external incursions and internal disorder and turbulence. These factors have impalpably contributed to the making of a psyche of deep insecurity and uncertainty. Possessiveness generally stems from insecurity.

The freedom movement spearheaded by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1930s was the first ever organized political mass movement of the people of Kashmir aspiring to become the masters of their destiny. No such movement was visible in any other of the 560 odd princely states of India. Evidently, the position of a Hindu Dogra Raja ruling over Kashmir with predominantly Muslim population was exceptionally vulnerable. Autocrats are seldom worldly wise and foolhardiness is the trait in their character. Despite that, the movement led by the Sheikh took care to avoid playing the communal card. National Conference’s adherence to the basics of a democratic and secular ideology found favour with the n Indian National Congress, the leading political party of India engaged in a freedom struggle against the colonial rule. Compatibility of ideology brought their leaders closer and they developed sound understanding of their great responsibility towards their people.

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