This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kashmir: India’s bilateral talk and China’s new stand

On international level as well as within India, there is sudden spurt in focusing on the solution of Kashmir problem. In this write-up I intend to reflect on two aspects, namely China’s new stand on Kashmir and the willingness of the Indian Home Minister and Prime Minister to pursue talks with the separatist groups.

Bilateral dialogue

These days much is said about bilateral talk. Indian leaders speak of dialogue with various groups in Kashmir. The Indian Home Minister has spoken of not making the content of the dialogue public. It is said that during his recent visit, the APHC (Umar Group) had a secret meeting with him. The Indian Prime Minister said during his visit to Thailand “That there existed some groups in the state that fell outside the mainstream politics and that he would like they were included in constructive dialogue.”

Analysing this statement, one is drawn to the conclusion that in talks with them, these groups are goaded into accepting a dialogue about accession to the Indian Union in the manner in which the mainstream parties profess. A vigorous propaganda is being made about developmental works undertaken in the State. India is providing billions of rupees in aid to these developmental enterprises. A general impression among the people is that one half of what India actually gives to Kashmir in the name of developmental works goes to the coffers of the mainstream politicians, workers and their kith and kin. From all sides we hear that general loot of funds is perpetrated in the name of development. Roads, bridges drainage and other constructions freshly undertaken do not last beyond six months. Engineers in public works departments are said to be amassing crores of rupees annually. Apart from them, those who sanction contracts and the ministers and their lackeys seek enormous kickbacks to give contracts to their close relatives and friends.

A baffling question is whether the works listed under developmental activities should be called by that name if these do not help provide employment opportunities to the deserving people. Are these to be called developmental activities if they do not bring income to the state through local resources? Despite the existence of thousands of pastures fields, the state imports meat worth 1300 crores annually from outside. Though Kashmir is the source of water for both the countries of the sub-continent, yet acute shortage of drinking water has forced people in different parts of Kashmir to take out protest rallies against government’s incompetence and corruption. The same is the case with the supply of electric power. What is the development actually in the light of what is found on the ground? The number of unemployed people has touched eight lacs. In such a state, it is ridiculous to call the construction of a patch of road or raising a building as developmental activity. Thousands of millions of rupees have been spent in the name of cleaning the Dal Lake. Yet the real task in Dal has not been touched on so far. Unless seven thousand families living in and around the lake are removed, nothing by the name of development is conceivable.

The point that we want to make is this: Does the Indian government want that without talking on the core issue of the right of self-determination for the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir it will consider the process of helping the separatists join the general loot in Kashmir and call it constructive politics?

The people are not critical of the administration only. The credibility of the judiciary is at the lowest in their eyes. If the courts issues orders for the release of detainees, these are not carried out. In the case of Shabir Shah, the High Court twice issued orders of his release. But instead of releasing him, he was re-arrested by indicting him in other fabricated cases. But when the Chief Minister ordered his release, he became a free man and was not indicted in any other case. This is not an isolated case. There are numerous examples in which the orders of are floundered. If a police or a civilian officer desires a certain detainee to be released, it is done without delay. If this is the credibility of the judiciary with the people, evidently they will have no trust in the administrative apparatus. When the people lose their faith in the judicial system, the fate of the state is self-explanatory.

Much blood has been shed in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In Pakistan and India also much blood has been spilt in the name of Jammu and Kashmir. These two countries remain hostages to Kashmir issue. There could be any mishap like the Mumbai attacks when the two countries, incidentally both of them atomic powers could become catalysts to destruction of the sub-continent on a very wide scale. In view of this during and after the talks are conducted, many questions remain to be answered.

1. Will the rulers of Indian bring about an amendment in the Constitution of India by virtue of which calling Jammu and Kashmir as inseparable part of India will be stopped?
2. In a resolution unanimously passed by 541 members of the Indian parliament, it was stated that Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is the integral part of the Indian Union. It demanded Pakistan to immediately vacate Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Has the government sought the nullification of this resolution and has it sought a new mandate from the current parliament for talking about self- determination of the State of Jammu and Kashmir?
3. Will India be able to find a solution to the problem just by talking to the leaders of the state only while Pakistan remains one party to the issue?
4. No solution of the Kashmir issue is possible without the participation of the people of Azad Kashmir, Gilgat- Baltistan and Pakistan.
5. What is the meaning of holding talks without announcing the agenda for the dialogue?

Previously also there have been bilateral talks with various political groups in Jammu and Kashmir including the outstanding leader Sheikh Abdullah. There have been agreements as well. But all these exercises ended in smoke. History recalls that bilateral talks between Nehru and Liaqat Ali had also been conducted at one time. In Tashkent,

Ayub Khan and Lal Bahadur Shastri also met and talks between Indira Gandhi and Z.A. Bhutto were held in Shimla. Mian Nawaz Sharief and Atal Bihari Vajpayee met and talked in Lahore and in Agra Pervez Musharraf and Vajpayee had also met. The result of these bilateral talks is before us. These failed because the first party in the dispute and that is the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir were not included.

Now we hear that talks between the Indian authorities and some local Kashmiri political groups are on the cards. The parties have been meeting occasionally. We are aware of the results of these talks. A couple of years back, some exchanges took place between the Hurriyat (Umar Farooq group) and the representatives of the Union government. These also ended in a fiasco like earlier and other talks. Therefore keeping this reality and the truth in mind without drawing the agenda for talks and without converting it into trilateral talks no bilateral talks will be successful. Isn’t it just wasting the time?

The question is that of the separatist groups. When the agenda is not declared, one wonders what will have the participant groups to talk about in the course of their meeting. Except for a couple of groups who support independent views, all the rest being the affiliates of the two factions of the Hurriyat are in favour of accession to Pakistan. Their question is this: Is India prepared to speak to them on their political stand of accession to Pakistan and independent Kashmir? If Indians are not prepared for that, then these groups would leave aside the question of accession to Pakistan and independence but will talk on subjects like Indian army returning to barracks, withdrawing black laws like AFSPA, dismantling bunkers and releasing the prisoners. But then the PDP, too, has been making same demands.

Assuming that Indians accept these demands, the question is does the nature of Kashmir issue change anyway by the Union Government’s acceptance of these demands? There is another question. Will Kashmir issue be represented by pursuing Hurriyat (Omar Farooq) and a couple more political groups to participate in the talks? The other faction of Hurriyat led by Geelani and some militant organizations has declined to participate. Will the few groups be representing the people of the State? There may be some groups with identical thinking but they do not enjoy the status of being the representatives of the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

We would like to give sincere suggestions to the Indian rulers. They should not concentrate on the policy of marking time and avoiding direct dealing of core issues and avoiding the embarrassing situation. They need to demonstrate their sincerity in finding a solution to the Kashmir tangle. Present Indian Prime Minister did hold a round table meet on Kashmir. Looking in retrospect, that, too, was an exercise in futility. The reason is that the decisions taken in Round Table Conference on Kashmir have not been implemented till date.

It is to be remembered that the present Kashmir leadership is fed up with the present political scenario in Kashmir. The people do not want to pass on the burden of Kashmir baggage from their shoulders to that of their sons and progeny. Like people in the rest of the world, they too want their future generations live a happy, prosperous and peaceful life. This is the reason why the leadership here does occasionally adopt the path of dialogue. However, unfortunately, the Indian authorities, instead of showing respect to their sentiments try to put them to humiliation in front of their own people. This provides space to the extremists to assume the leadership of the people.

Recently the Libyan leader Muammar Qadafi said that Jammu and Kashmir should be made an independent and sovereign state. The Libyan leader has always supported the demand of Kashmiri people for their right of self-determination. This being the case, the question is how much weight does the Libyan perception carry on international plane. His statement has a background.

During the days of Z..A. Bhutto, late K.H. Khurshid made an effort and induced Col. Qadafi of Libya to make a proposal to Bhutto. The proposal was that the State of Jammu and Kashmir including Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan be made an independent sovereign state to be recognized by Pakistan, China and the Muslim countries. The independent and sovereign state would conclude defence agreement with China and Pakistan.

A proposal of this kind would have been the forerunner of the independence for the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. In this situation, India would not have the opportunity to propagate on diplomatic level and within the country that Pakistan wants to grab the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In this scenario, the independent and sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir could project its claim of legal, moral and social inheritance on international level.

But Pakistan, despite being in possession of 35,853 squire miles of the J&K territory, declined to let Gilgit and Baltistan be part of the contemplated independent and sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir. The result of Pakistan’s rejection of integrating Gilgit and Baltistan into a proposed independent and sovereign State of Jammu and Kashmir was that the question of self-determination of the people, which in all probability, would have assumed international dimension, was reduced to a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan.

With regard to China, after long silence, it has counselled both the countries. At the same time China has played a new gimmick. Its embassy is issuing visa to Kashmiris on a separate paper thereby trying to tell them that China recognizes their separate identity.

It is surprising that we Kashmiris became euphoric on China’s changed stand without delving deep into their nuances. The tragedy is that our leadership has not trained the nation to assess things and situations on the basis of logic, pragmatism and the facts. Instead, it has let sentiments and personal aggrandisement become the supervening factors.

China’s main problem is Tibet and the Dalai Lama. This religious leader is immensely popular not only among his people but among vast sections of people within China also. He enjoys great respects and dignity in the whole world including India as a great religious leader. China does not feel comfortable with the Dalai Lama’s activities.

Apart from this, China is in illegal possession of eleven thousand square miles of the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. India is emerging as China’s biggest rival in trade and commerce not only in the Asian continent but in the whole world as well.

Therefore exploiting the weak points, China wants to settle her border dispute with India in Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet. If China and Pakistan were our selfless friends in our struggle for the right of self-determination instead of aspiring for our territory, they had only one way to drive India to wall. We mean to say that the way shown by late K.H. Khurshid. Gilgit, Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and the territories occupied by China needed to be consolidated and amalgamated to form the independent and sovereign state to be got recognised by the world powers.

The fact is that the territory of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by China and Pakistan is larger than the one occupied by India. Nearly 45024 squire miles in the occupation of the former and only 41342 squire miles are under the occupation of India. Had Pakistan agreed to this proposal, India would have found herself embarrassed by the international opinion which would have gone in favour of Kashmiris.

I would like to tell the rulers and intellectuals of India that the conditions in Pakistan will not remain the same what we find today. The people and the army in Pakistan will steer clear from present crisis. In the aftermath Pakistan-based militant organizations and the remnants of the Taliban will make Kashmir their target. Taliban are in making in many orphanages and seminaries in Kashmir. There are four hundred of these institutions in Srinagar district alone where inmates are not having even basic necessaries of life. Is it not the responsibility of the government to provide good education, good society and good future to these children? Unfortunately the caretakers of the State cannot have the farsightedness to think of future. The impression gone deep into the thinking of the local people is that a major portion of billions of rupees given by the Indian government in the name of development of the State is being siphoned off to the coffers of the rulers and authorities in this State. Indian leaders and its governing apparatus know it fully. But instead of creating an accountability mechanism to stem the rot, they are covertly allowing it to grow with the sole purpose that the mainstream political parities in the State lend their support to the stand of New Delhi. This is not today’s story but has been there for last six decades. By succumbing to the blackmail of so-called mainstream political parties, India gave enough reason to the people of Kashmir to suspect their intentions and thus got alienated.

Hashim Qureshi
Chairman JK Democratic Liberation Party