Kashmir—A blood soaked stalemate


M Ziauddin,

India has no case in Kashmir. That is why it has been avoiding all these 70 years any substantive negotiation on Kashmir with Pakistan. It has its own interpretation of the relevant UN Resolution on Kashmir. India’s version of the Resolution claims that the very first step that the Resolution demands is the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Azad Kashmir while the Indian troops would remain stationed in the Indian Occupied Kashmir as plebiscite is conducted under the supervision of UN Peace-keeping troops.
During all through the Cold War and even up to the May-July 1999 Kargil misadventure of President General Musharraf the world at large including the US tended to disagree with the Indian version of the pertinent UN Resolution on Kashmir.
But all this changed radically when at the end of Kargil skirmish our regular troops were seen withdrawing, under US pressure, from across the LoC in full international glare. Our claim that the freedom struggle going on inside the IOK was indigenous finally lost credence in the world capitals. Since then India is finding it increasingly convenient to pass the blame on Pakistan for the violence in IOK.
More than the relevant UN resolutions, the fact that the people of IOK never accepted New Delhi’s writ at any point in time in its history and also the fact that no Indian government could so far succeed in removing Article 370 from its Constitution that recognised IOK’s separate national identity had turned the people inhabiting the IOK into a nation of freedom fighters forcing India to subjugate the protestingunarmed multitude with 700,000 armed to teeth troops with orders to shoot to kill and maim the protestors calling them Pakistani infiltrators.
However, while India can avoid talking to Pakistan for decades without being held accountable by world opinion, New Delhi surely cannot dodge the Hurriyat for too long. Sooner or later India will have to negotiate a peace accord with them.
The Indian Congress leadership realised the futility of holding on to IOK without the consent of its population rather very late in the day as by the time the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heading a Congress-led Coalition government came up with a proposal for ridding his country of this politically, socially and economically debilitating national problem Congress was routed out of power by a resurgent BJP-RSS conglomerate led by the Muslim hater Hindutva champion Narendra Modi.
Premier Manmohan Singh’s proposal had the ingredients needed to take the two countries to a peaceful and mutually agreed resolution of the bilateral dispute between Pakistan and India and at the same time rid India of a problem posing it an existential threat.
Premier Singh had convinced both Hurriyat and Musharraf that his four-step scheme was a win-win formula for all three parties. The formula: 1) Demilitarisation, 2) People of Jammu and Kashmir moving freely across the LoC rendered irrelevant, 3) Self-governance without independence and 4) A joint supervision mechanism in J&K involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
However, India is back to square one since the advent of PM Modi. Soon after coming to power in New Delhi he tried to win enough seats in IOK assembly to get a resolution passed requesting withdrawal of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution. He failed to achieve his objective by inches. Since then he is trying to change the demography of IOK. This has provoked renewed mass protests which were again met with brute force by the Indian troops resulting in scores of deaths and injuring hundreds specially causing blindness among protesting youth because of the use of pallet guns by Indian security agencies.
On the face of it, it seems it would take another 70 years for the new Indian rulers to realise the futility of keeping the people of IOK under its control using brute force.
But going by the way the UN Human Rights Commission reacted to Indian troops brutalities in IOK earlier this year it seems the realisation would dawn on India sooner and in due course of time New Delhi would find it advisable to revisit Manmohan’s four-step formula or come up with one of its own to make a peaceful settlement with Hurriyat in consultation with Pakistan.

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