Ali Ashraf Khan
The Kashmir conflict has been a festering wound in Indo-Pakistani relations since partition had taken pace and the fate of Indian princely states had been left hanging by the British. For India incorporating J&K as occupied territory was a matter of proving the need for and the existence of Pakistan wrong; that was why the Indian government and the then Interior Minister Vallabhai Patel played all tricks to manipulate and coerce Maharaja Singh into joining India. Pakistani Pashtuns considering that the principle of partition had been that adjacent Muslim majority territories would come to Pakistan went to hurry up events and create a fait accompli by overrunning Srinagar.
It was at this point in time when Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru went knocking the doors at UN Security Council, which passed half a dozen resolutions to decide the fate of Kashmir through free and fair plebiscite. Since then the former princely state is divided between India and Pakistan. But while Kashmiris in Pakistan are reasonably settled, people in Indian Occupied Kashmir turned out to be much less content. For the last almost seventy years India has been unable to integrate Kashmir into India. Kashmiri expectations to decide their future through plebiscite have been betrayed by consecutive Indian governments.
Since 1989 Indian Kashmir has been rocked by successive waves of armed anti-Indian resistance. Yes, there has been Pakistani involvement at that time when Pakistan in coalition with the US was organising jihadi struggle against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. There was no persuasion needed to make Pakistani Kashmiris come to the help of their brothers behind the LoC. But that could only succeed if and when Indian Kashmiris were desperate enough to take to arms. Without that Pakistan would not have had a chance as it was sown vividly in 1964 when operation Gibraltar went wrong and was ineffective because Kashmiris on the Indian side were not desperate enough for insurgency. Since then Pakistan and its army has been complacent and neutral on the issue.
The backlash of Afghanistan, when US abandoned its support for Jihadist this region after winning against Soviet Union, that has brought terrorism and militancy to Pakistani cities and towns and has brought state and society to the brink of collapse has resulted in a change of mind when General Musharraf in November 2001 declared to join the war against terror. Of course such a political, ideological and military-strategic U-turn cannot be implemented in one day especially not when the decision was taken by Musharraf after consulting only himself without taking anybody else on board. But since then things do have changed in Pakistan step by step even if hesitantly. But India refuses to recognise this and insists that nothing has changed and Pakistan is such a convenient villain.
The timing of the Uri attack suggests that it might have been a false-flag operation aimed at countering the exposure of Indian atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir that was highlighted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his speech at the UNGA. Uri may be an attempt of the BJP government to lay the blame for Kashmiri unrest and struggle at the door step of Pakistan. But that is not the truth. Since the killing of Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani by the Indian army Kashmir is up in arms again. And neither Wani’s killing nor the Kashmiri responses are of Pakistani making. For the last many decades India and Pakistan have been dancing in circles blaming each other for creating unrest respectively.
While it is Kashmir for India it is Balochistan for Pakistan where Indian agents have been caught red-handed. Both countries are wasting their time and resources on this blame game to the detriment of the socio-economic development of their societies. It is high time to stop this and start acting rationally. The international community is hardly going to be of any real help in that. Kashmir has no oil and that is why it is of no interest to the West or the rest of the world. When the US is supporting one or the other side in the conflict they do it exclusively to serve their own national interest and that is usually detrimental not only to India and Pakistan but to the region. So better not to rely on somebody else but start relying on ourselves.
The first step would have to be taken by India – the ‘big brother’ who can afford magnanimity rather than tit-for-tat nit-picking. Pakistan has changed in the course of time; it needs some trust to rely on this. The contact between the Indian and Pakistani DGMOs in the aftermath of the attack is a good beginning. But the hawkish Indian media and other quarters have to be contained to resolve Kashmir issue in the light of UN resolutions. God bless Pakistan & Humanity.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.