Kashmir’s inclusion in India is a historical deception – the result of a Hindu ruler of Muslim majority state neighbouring Pakistan who asked India to put down a popular rebellion of his subjects demanding unification with Pakistan. The Indian prime minister of that time, Jawaharlal Nehru, responded cleverly and captured the state by Indian Army Invasion.
India’s justified its capture on the plea that the Hindu ruler against the wishes of its majority Muslim population has signed the secession document to unite with India. But, ironically, the opposite was done when the two Muslim rulers, Hyderabad Deccan and Junnagadh, signed the succession papers to join Pakistan presuming the majority Hindu population wants to part of India. These two contrasting principles are as the coinage goes “Heads – I win, Tails- you loose”.
Since that tragic Indian fallacy, more than half a century has lapsed, and Kashmir is still a bone of contention between two neighbouring countries. Billions of rupees and hundreds of thousands lives have been wasted in the name of Kashmir from both sides.
India certainly has the right to complain for Pakistan’s support for Kashmir freedom. But there is more than enough hatred among native Kashmiris to fuel the state’s war of attrition for decades to come. Instead of responding to Kashmiri discontent with sabre-rattling and repression, India must make its democracy Kashmir’s solution.
To prevent a potential nuclear war and the only way to solve the Kashmir conflict is to give the state’s people the right to determine their own destiny. The Kashmiris should be allowed to vote on whether to remain in India, join Pakistan, or become independent.
In fact, it was India’s betrayal of democracy that turned Kashmir violent in the first place. Kashmir’s armed uprising began in 1989, sparked in part by India’s blatant rigging of an election in the state. The following year India stripped Kashmir of the limited autonomy it had enjoyed in the past. And in 2000, when Kashmir’s state legislature called on New Delhi to restore that autonomy–a move that might have undermined the state’s violent, all-or-nothing secessionists–the Indian government refused. Not surprisingly, the violence has intensified since then, and the Indian army has brutalised thousands of innocent civilians.
However, there is no use of arguments for the sake of arguments to let this wound bleed any more. We should have dialoguge to resolve this more than half a century old grave issue. Sooner the better to allow both countries to really enter the 21st century. I am very optimistic that people from both countries with honest approach to issue can play a big role towards resolution of this overdue issue.
But the dispute has now reached to a stage where international mediation is a must to resolve the issue between two countries according to the wishes of Kashmiris. India should discard the mantra of exclusive bi-lateralism. It is extremely unlikely that bilateral talks, if and when held, by themselves can yield a solution. Help by a third party can make a crucial contribution to breaking the stalemate. Bi-lateralism should not be allowed to become a dogma closing all doors to a rapprochement
As President Musharraf has demanded, India should be compelled by the international community to agree to international mediated tripartite negotiations and a plebiscite to resolve this issue for once and all.
Without a solution of the Kashmir problem, India-Pakistan and the whole South Asian region will not enjoy peace and attain prosperity.