S Qamar Afzal Rizvi
A state of déjà vu surrounds over India‘s Kashmir policy—the embodiment of trickery, delusion, euphoria, ruthlessness and intransigence—which has plagued relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad. Veritably, India’s Kashmir policy suffers from a multiple policy syndromes: denormalisation syndrome, cynical occupation syndrome, the peace deficient-cum-Israel policy replication syndrome, confederation model syndrome, and the Indus water treaty syndrome. The realism advocates that for its peaceful coexistence in South Asia, India would have to prevent from this ill engineered policy on Kashmir.
If we examine the course of 69 years of India-Pakistan relations, we note that it is denormalisation not normalization which remains core feature of this relationship. The prime reason behind this ill development is the Kashmir issue: Pakistan seeks to have completion of an unfinished agenda of partition of subcontinent; whereas India seems adamant about yielding territorial concessions vis-à-vis Kashmir. And principally Pakistan shows its prompt resistance against hegemonic ambitions of India in region.
The Indian thinking has been that since it has occupied the state of Kashmir for the last six decades , India could claim the right over Kashmir. But this devious and unwarranted Indian thinking is no longer acceptable to Kashmiris, the international community and nor to the international peace and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Red Cross. Narendra Modi’s Kashmir policy does not reflect political spectrum of Kashmir on board. New Delhi views the recurrent and recurring patterns of violence as a management problem and thinks that the current phase of violence that has kept Kashmir on the freedom fire will fade and fizzle out.
These meek assumptions— of euphoric Delhi— betray a short-term policy horizon and total lack of understanding of the conflict and the violence it tracts. And what wrongly supports these assumptions appears to be that containing the conflict through might and power and managing it through other means would be more useful. But these advocated approaches are highly flawed and deceptive, as shown by the modern history of Kashmir. India’s peace deficient-cum-Israel policy syndrome is well evident from the ongoing discourse that speaks about no peace measures or respect for human rights values in Kashmir. The Indian quest for normalcy or peace discourse via coercion and brinkmanship is a great delusion.
While addressing in United Nations Security Council, Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN said that Pakistan wanted the solution to Kashmir issue according to the will of Kashmiris and the UN resolutions. She condemned discriminatory behaviour on ethnic and religious grounds in Occupied Kashmir by Indian government. We reject the ethnic and religious discrimination in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK), she added.” The deprivation of the right to self-determination of millions of people in Kashmir is a tragedy of the 21st century,” Lodhi lamented. For many decades, India has adopted a policy on Kashmir that has not only poisoned the scope of relationship between the two neighbour states, but it has completely undermined the normal life of the hapless Kashmiris.
Many conflict studies expert view that the Kashmir issue is a supremely political one, but political peers sitting in New Delhi— judging from both its past and contemporary practice— do not believe so. If viewed Kashmir from a political prism—New Delhi would have not assumed the default option as a recourse to containment and management of the conflict. What is an irony for the Indian policy makers that they have been replicating an Israeli a policy in Kashmir. While having had learned from the reflections on modern history, we find that East Timor, Kosovo and the Quebec independence in Canada are the glaring examples of sponsoring, endorsing and espousing the right of self-determination.
Notably, the confederation model searched via track-2 diplomacy— and once jointly envisaged by the Musharraf-Vajpayee administrations— could not work out owing to the fact that it entailed multiple complexities. And yet this estimate cannot be refuted that a thinking on the same pattern cannot see the light of the day since it fundamentally lacks in essence the very principle of self-determination endorsed by the UNSC’s resolutions.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, a columnist and independent socio-political activist has argued in his recently launched book on India and Pakistan relations: “The failure of both Pakistan and India in resolving the Kashmir issue is one of the major reasons contributing to the adversarial stance between the two. We must make Kashmir a bridge between our two countries and not consider it as a barrier”. Apparently this advocacy is chartered through the stream of liberal thinking. Yet eying it from the core realities, it is rightly argued that the model does sow the seeds of disintegration forces as same being reflected and apprehended in the Ukraine confederation model, and therefore rejects its implementation.
There appears a new evil policy about the Indus Water Treaty. The Indian policy makers are trying to use the IWT as an instrument to pressurize Pakistan to contain its Kashmir policy. The Indian policy engineers are forgetting the important factors: firstly, the UN’s resolutions passed on Kashmir; secondly the two states, India and Pakistan are nuclear; and most significantly that legally and morally the occupation of Kashmir by dint of force cannot grant the status of ownership to India. India’s military build-up led by its nuclear melancholy is much reflected through its building of a nuclear basement city. Despite all these negative Indian policy postures, the truth— seen by the changing regional geopolitics and that of global dynamics, argues that a 21st century South Asia can no longer bear or tolerate the continuation of India’s erstwhile Kashmir policy of legal transgression, of moral turpitude, and of social faux pas.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.