Kashmir issue has become the source of heartbreak for the people of the state for last sixty-three years. During this period more than a hundred thousand people were killed, thousands were maimed and thousands more are suffering incarceration. The number of those who met with their end on the border or were buried under avalanches or kidnapped also runs into thousands. In terms of economy, Kashmiris are living in the 16th century. It has turned into a consumer state where people are deprived of basic necessities. Unemployment is widespread and elementary industry is lacking.
Today’s world has become fully sensitive to the ecological imperative and states are conserving their water resources by allocating sufficient funds to this head. But we in Kashmir are destroying our water resources, and, besides, are looking for land to dispose off the garbage. We don’t have even the modern garbage disposing mechanism and recycling plants. Are we not the victims of incompetent and imbecile governance?
Next to Palestine, Kashmir has become the most publicized issue today. India and Pakistan fought two wars in the name of Kashmir. Subsequent to the two countries becoming nuclear power, this issue became more complicated and threatening.
What are the reasons that make the situation so alarming in South Asia as to imagine of a possible war in the subcontinent. Despite suffering the violation of human rights on large scale and despite facing oppression and suppression, the people of Kashmir are not the object of the attention of world community. Very few nations are fully aware of their past history. Kashmir is a state that can boast of five thousand year old history. Lalitaditya and other rajas during the Hindu period, and Shihab-ud Din and Zainul Abidin in Muslim period the boundaries of the Kashmir kingdom touched Sirhind to the south and Multan to the Southwest. For long, Kashmir kingdom did not encompass only Peshawar and Punjab but Kabul, Kashghar and Tibet also fell within its suzerainty.
Zainul Abidin recalled the emigrated Kashmir Pandits. He called the assembly of learned Islamic scholars and asked them whether Islam could be forcibly thrust on anybody. When they said it was not allowed and issued decrees to that effect, he then issued an order that nobody would be converted under force. Those who had converted were allowed to re-embrace their original religions. Bud Shah order that damaged temples should be repaired. Don’t we need a Bud Shah today because after many centuries the Pandits have once again adopted migration? We all put together have not become one Bud Shah.? It was in the times of Bud Shah that the ruler of Delhi Feroz Shah Tughlaq accepted Kashmir Kingdom's borders at Sirhind. We not only forgot the history of our ancestors but we also allowed their graves to turn into desolate places. We stole the stones and bricks from their graves. This is major reason whey we cold not achieve our goal as a nation.
Maharaja Gulab Singh purchased Kashmir from the British and gave it the present shape of a state. We made sacrifices for our economic freedom and the right to vote. This struggle started in 1930 and Pakistan had not come into being then. Pakistan resolution was made in 1940 in Lahore.
This means the people of the State knew that they had a state and all they wanted was a democratic system. When India was struggling for its freedom from the British colonialists and the Muslims of the sub-continent wanted a separate homeland, we in Kashmir were a step ahead of them. We were a sovereign state struggling to make it a democratic one. In 1931, Kashmiris became targets of bullets and far ahead of India we had initiated Kashmir democratic movement.
After the partition of India and creation of two states of India and Pakistan, the princely states were empowered to join one or the other dominion or maintain their independence. Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to conclude a stand still agreement with both the dominions as he wanted to keep his state an independent one and even Pakistan signed the stand still agreement. The stipulation was that until the state took a decision as to which country it would join, no interference would take place with his neutrality. But unfortunate for the Kashmiris, Pakistan deployed the tribal warriors and attacked Kashmir. This forced the Maharaja to seek support from India who managed to obtain his signatures for accession and sent in their army. The conflict was born and India took the matter to the Security Council and ever since the people in Kashmir are in great muddle and frustration.
Kashmiri leaders were used by both the countries once Kashmir issue surfaced at the UN. India took Sheikh Abdullah to New York and Pakistan took Sardar Ibrahim to balance India. Up to January 5, 1949 Kashmir was being treated at the UN as Kashmir issue On that day Pakistan representative Sir Zafrullah tabled a resolution in which “he demanded that it should not be treated as Kashmir issue but a dispute between India and Pakistan.” Thereafter the international community treated it an issue between India and Pakistan. People in Kashmir are surprised why till 1971 Pakistan used to raise voice against human rights violation by India in Kashmir but after 1988 till this day when a hundred thousand Kashmiris have been martyred and innocent people butchered on streets, Pakistan could not gather together even four countries who would support her resolution against India’s human rights violations .?
Boutros Gali, the then UN Secretary General was critiqued during his visit to Pakistan in 1990 for not opening his mouth on Kashmir issue. In a press conference he said “that the UN could not intervene in the matter of Kashmir until both the countries approached the UN formally for intervention.” The reason, he said was” that in Shimla Agreement both countries had agreed that the two countries would talk on Kashmir bilaterally. And that unless both the countries agreed no party would take the issue to any international forum. Cease fire line was converted as the border of Jammu and Kashmir. India and Pakistan converted it into Line of Control without intervention of the United Nations.” (Note: In this context I published an article on 16 May 1992 titled Why Embitter UN against Kashmiris)
State leadership got divided into two camps after 1947: those who wanted accession to India and those who were for Pakistan. Both the groups tried to keep their respective godfather in good humour. They told the people that independence meant accession either to India or to Pakistan. But there were some defiant people who after Ghazi Chak in medieval times were against the slavish mentality of the people in both camps. They were like Premnath Bazaz and Maqbool Bhat the martyr. India and Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership on both the sides made Kashmiris so much of slavish mentality that whosoever struggles for freedom and independence when he arrives in Pakistan he is dubbed as Indian agent and if he comes to India he is dubbed as Pakistani agent. Unfortunately people on both sides of the cease fire line are still far removed from the perception of state’s complete freedom and independence and the spirit of dedication attached to the struggle for this purpose. Maybe disunity among the organizations for independent Kashmir including their ego is the causes for this debility.
Indian Pakistani occupation
1947 changed our geography. On the basis of military power we were divided into three parts and kept distanced from each other. It adversely affected our organized struggle for freedom. In addition, the element of religion was also inducted into the struggle for freedom in the part of the state under Indian occupation. We could not carry the movement to Jammu and Ladakh regions. In contrast, the movement for freedom and independence is ideologically and practically more vibrant in the parts of the state under the occupation of Pakistan. What I mean to say is that for last 63 years, we have not been able to manage and carry forward our freedom struggle against foreign occupants on the basis of patent principles of national independence as we find in earlier colonized countries like Algeria, Vietnam, Palestine and others. This is the reason why even these nations did not extend their support to our movement on international plane. They had won their freedom after shedding lot of blood of their martyrs. Not to speak of others, we could not even register support of the Muslim countries till this day. India’s relations with Muslim countries are good and the quantum of trade between them runs into billions of dollars.
There has not been pressure from any quarter of international community that would force the two countries to abandon Kashmir or do justice to Kashmiris. All the armed groups engaged in armed conflict in Kashmir are fighting for Pakistan. Politically speaking, not only the two factions of Hurriyat but the Liberation Front as well have stationed their representatives in Azad Kashmir to remain in liaison with Islamabad government. All the groups that have aligned with either of the factions of Hurriyat are not only supportive of accession to Pakistan but this commitment is included in their manifestos.
This summer when 112 of our youth and children shed their blood on the streets of Srinagar attaining martyrdom in the name of freedom, Sayyed Ali Shah Geelani defined the freedom struggle in terms of accession to Pakistan. This bereft the innocent martyrs of all the sympathy that had been visible for them in India and the world over. We have to make sure that while feigning that the world is accepting our struggle, are we not deceiving ourselves and keeping our people in dark. World powers and UN officials invariably advise both India and Pakistan to resolve the issue bilaterally. In simpler words Kashmir is projected as a fief of the two countries that want to be the masters of the fate of fifteen million people of the state.
Rulers of today have inherited this cumbersome baggage from the past. Pakistan tells her people that Kashmir is half the agenda of Two Nation Theory; Kashmir is part of Pakistan and that it is the jugular vein of Pakistan. This leaves no space for any other thought with the people of Pakistan about Kashmir. Therefore no Pakistani ruler could afford to make any concession to India on Kashmir issue till date. Kashmir has a 700 kms long border with Pakistan, and Pakistan’s water resources are in Kashmir. As such Kashmir will remain life and death issue for Pakistani military and her people. They will remain involved in Kashmir imbroglio in future also. Militancy in Kashmir may be on low level today. Pakistan knows that in case India becomes economically and militarily strong then she will never be prepared either to bring about a change in present borders in Kashmir nor will make any big concession. Pakistani people have been fed with the propaganda that India wants to finish Pakistan once for all. As such India remains number one enemy of Pakistan in the eyes of Pakistani military establishment and her people.That is the reason that Pakistan tried to convince the US and the European countries that according to its perception, India and do anything at any time to strike at the interests of Pakistan. That is why Pakistan had declined to redeploy most of her army on Afghan border after withdrawing it from her Indian border. American has put billions of dollar sin Pakistan’s kitty so that she uproots the militant organizations fighting against India. But that will never happen because the militant organizations have become Pakistan’s first line of defense against India.
Extremism is on rise in Indian polity
The rise of organizations like Shiv Sena, BJP and RSS will become the cause for India’s downfall because these organizations are based on anti-Muslim plank. RSS is organizing itself on the lines of Jaishe Muhammad. It is involved in Malegaon and Smjhota blasts. Various reports suggest that some BJP leaders support them. They have taken Indian people hostage to Kashmir issue. During the government of Narasimha Rao a unanimous resolution was passed in the Indian parliament in regard to Kashmir though according to Pandit Nehru’s statement “there can be no impact on the disputed status of Kashmir by any resolution or law passed by the Indian parliament or the state assembly”.
India has another problem with China in regard to a long border with China in Ladakh. Indian rulers and policy planners think that by giving concessions to the people of Kashmir, there is a danger of disintegration of Indian Union and that there will be communal riots in the country endangering the lives of Muslim population. Therefore this bone of contention called Kashmir will remain stuck in the throats of both the countries.
- Both of them are not prepared to put an end to their occupation of Kashmir; they are not willing to reunite the two parts of the State and create an independent buffer state.
- Despite Shimla agreement, both the countries are not prepared to convert the present LoC into permanent border between them. Both the countries have been engaged in the formalities of bilateral talks on Kashmir for last 63 years. They just come together, talk and eat and disperse.
- Both the countries are bent upon making Kashmiris die a hapless death
Dividing Kashmir on the basis of religion or regions means destruction of entire India. Hindu-Muslim clashes will appear in the state and all over India. This can spell disaster for the Indian Union.
In the context of Kashmir there are only two options for both of them. One is that Pakistan reunites Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir into one unit and places it in the control of the United Nations as a single unit of independent Kashmir. Pakistan should conclude defense pacts with this single unit and induce China also to be the signatory to such a defense pact. This independent unit would open the case of India occupied part of Kashmir at the United Nations. In such a situation the entire world will support the independence of the entire Jammu and Kashmir. I may remind my readers that late K.H. Khurshid had suggested this formula to Pakistan several times. He was only humiliated and not listened to. He had been the secretary to Qaid Azam also.
If India wants to save its skin and escape the impending disaster, she should also fulfill her commitments of making the State of Jammu and Kashmir an independent sovereign state. She can also conclude a defense pact with independent State of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus with pacts signed by Pakistan, China and India declaring a non-military zone in Kashmir, will be a fine solution of the tangle. The only alternative is a devastating war is fought between India and Pakistan. Even after a war is fought, still the world will suggest no option other than the one proffered above. There will be no winners and no losers. UN troops can take over the management of the State till normalcy is restored
It is important for the people of Kashmir that the question of accession is not evaluated on the basis of religion. Such an option should never be thought of and never implemented. They should honour the struggle and perception of their ancestors and thus confine their struggle only to united, free and independent state. They should learn to love their land, their mountains, rivers and their conscience.They should organza their struggle under the sentiment and ideology of national independence which is the only way to attract the support of world community.