Views from Srinagar
A finality of Kashmir dispute can be approached by taking a credible opinion from all people in their own regions.
Dr A Majid Siraj
I stood guard as a ten year-old soldier with a fake gun on my shoulder close to the podium in Lal Chowk way back on a summer’s day in 1948. Some words Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said echoed in the air and never left me.
“People will decide”, he said and that melody carried the trail of my research in later years when influence (emphasis mine) made its appearance. That word was added to Nehru’s vocabulary in statements he made over the years that followed.
What is unambiguous and not a derivative was his incisive mind that focused on Kashmir as a place where like a home he and his people could come and go, hike on mountains, breathe in the aroma from country flourishing landscape and environment. That perception subsumed pervasive politics.
Occupation strategy to enter Kashmir and its annexation seemed deviant course to take and in my opinion was not intended.
India was the world leader of pro-people socialist anti-imperialist movement. Colonisation was a tabooed option.
Early fifties witnessed universal abhorrence against colonisation, in 1960 Resolution 1514 (XV) culminated into covenants! CCPR and ICESR (1966) based on restoration of inherent dignity of mankind, where acquisition of adjacent territory by any means like accretion or force was made illegal.
Turbulent waters flowed under the bridge of India-Kashmir association and characteristics of influence changed. Peace and harmony slogans were washed down the tide.
Influence did not take away Right to Self Determination (RSD) rooted in deep inside the fabric of this relationship. Never was a claim tenable for default from people to deny them promised rights. This right crucial life support for existence in Kashmir was a direct corollary of why turmoil entered their life when it was denied to them.
It was the geo-strategic importance of Kashmir that put both India and Pakistan in battlefield. Other princely states did not have such a unique geostrategic importance and proximity both to India and Pakistan as Kashmir did.
Moreover, the visions of zero-sum gain (of Kashmir) both by India and Pakistan made the situation complex. Solutions emerged with RSD dominating the rest including division of whole state on the basis of ethnic majority like Kashmir Valley, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan part of Pakistan, and Jammu and Ladakh integral to India.
“Condominium” or “Confederation” in which it was proposed to have a joint control on Kashmir by both India and Pakistan was mooted at some point. Resolutions of the United Nations proposed plebiscite to be held throughout the State of Jammu and Kashmir. This translated the ethos of RSD and had a universal appeal.
Influence in real terms would be like family ties between India and Kashmir in total exclusion of the slightest violations of human rights. This norm was transgressed beyond limits.
Anthropologist Dr Anjana Chatterjee said, “7000 Kashmiri women have been gang-raped by Indian troops, 75 thousands deaths in Kashmir and over eight thousand cases of disappearances a continuous genocide of Kashmiris.”
Following the 2010 street killings of over 110 minors and thousands incarcerated, 110 day of current turmoil has crossed 110 deaths with thousands injured and blinded by pellet guns, and there are no signs of a let up. When shall we say enough is enough? We talk about ripening of a conflict before a resolution as envisaged by use of Zartman’s postulate of mutually hurting stalemate.
It is a fact that Kashmir conflict has generated Mutually Hurting Stalemate (MHS) in many ways. A resolution of Kashmir politics becomes exigent. Creating an atmosphere of influence and freed of the nemesis of war mania a new window of peace will show. No one will refute that India after a Chapter 7 type intervention to save Kashmir in 1947 from an invasion without a United Nation resolution or real mandate did not achieve finality on relations with Kashmir.
The marriage was initiated, but not consummated. The interface was rife with mistrust and ambiguity. Conflict was born that assumed a linear dimension when violence was used to force verdict on people.
Treaties, accords, constitutional compulsions and laws were peremptory with no agreement or people participation. Even local governments were hatched from central authority.
Fundamental to the issue of political association between India and Kashmir is to spell a clear decree on validity of either occupation or statehood. Which one is it, because it cannot be both? What are the arguments for and against?
A comparison is drawn with British rule over India. British encouraged local parties to make government and share power but the sovereignty remained with them. The army command and foreign policy was British domain and the queen appeared in currency denominations. Statehood was apparent when people power became reality.
Influence can surface in new relationships like European states. Gulab Singh days of fusion of Jammu with Kashmir and subsequent Poonch, Chilas and Baltistan and incongruous relationship with Chenab Valley, Pirpanjal range populations have discrepant view on politics to the Valley of Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir. Like all roads lead to Rome likewise a finality of Jammu Kashmir Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan dispute can be approached by taking a credible opinion from all people in their own regions.
How could Nehru’s influence still be maintained if Kashmir opted for independence? How could the borders be re-drawn? How could five pillars of statehood be maintained? The, economy and currency, communications, foreign Affairs and political associations, defence and security, interim sovereignty as constituents of governance be allocated.
It may be there are political analysts who argue for reconstitution of Jammu Kashmir State as it existed in October fall of 1947, on this page I have laid a sketch of a possible alternative mainly to bring stability of future relations between all adjacent parts to be inclusive of unshaken allegiance to Pakistan of India and to be wary of consequences of tyranny of Majoritarianism and cultural divides.
This may work out to division in five parts, Gilgit-Baltistan adjacent inclusive of Gurez, Chenab valley to include Rajouri and Mirpur, Jammu will all adjacent municipalities, Muzafarabad Uri sector and Pirpanjal range.
The referendums held would have three options to merge with India or Pakistan or independence. When a glimpse of its roots comes to light, many critics argue there is nothing new in this narrative, right to self-determination is well known but they soon forget to make the link in their arguments for a lasting secure future with the baseline of the conflict.
Kashmir reverberates with unrests shaking Jammu with it, while political fluidities stir the cities and towns of the whole beleaguered state.
The précis is unquestionable informed consent from the people of Jammu Kashmir transcends from influence of India in Kashmir including all territories in Pakistan and that remedy may change its contours and present as a plebiscite, a referendum, segmental balloting or regional votes taken under supervision.
There is no scope for deviating by any forum, bilateralism, trilateralism or multiple track interlocution or even mediation.
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