Kashmir conundrum

Views from Srinagar

Anti-India movement is a result of denial of Freedom of Expression to Kashmiris. Had democracy been allowed in Kashmir situation would have been different

Aajaz Dar

KASHMIR is situated on the north western corner of Indian subcontinent. Half of total area lies with India, one-third with Pakistan and one-fifth with china. It shares its borders with China in the East, Pakistan in the west and Afghanistan and Russia in the north.
A long and persistent struggle by Indians against the British rule forced British to transfer power to Indians by passing the Indian independence Act in 1947. Before transferring power, they decided to divide India in two dominions namely India and Pakistan.
Princely states were given three options either to join India and Pakistan or to remain independent. The then Maharaja Hari Singh was in favour of independent Kashmir but his hopes of remaining independent were dashed in October 1947, as Pakistan sent tribesman who attacked Kashmir. Hari Singh appealed to the Indian government for military assistance and ultimately signed instrument of accession in favour of India on October 26, 1947. Kashmir was given a special status under Article 370 in which defense, foreign affairs and communication were under the control of government of India; maharaja was independent in all other affairs.
Unfortunately and immediately, after J&K was acceded to Indian dominion, India started eroding its autonomy slowly but steadily in order to change the nature of autonomy into a complete integration. The thinking of India succeeded to a very large extent in fulfilling the desire under a well planned program of action.
After the accession, India didn’t allow democracy to flourish in Kashmir. Subsequent Indian government attempted to install puppet government in J&K; manipulating the very democratic process that deeply angered the Kashmiris. Indian government never thought that it will prove counterproductive for them.
In 1986, the dominance of National Conference was seriously challenged by a newly formed coalition called Muslim United Front (MUF). But the National Conference with the support of New Delhi didn’t allow MUF to win in elections and therefore the infamous rigging of 1987 took place. The elections of 1987 marked a watershed in the history of Kashmir. It was the culmination of fraud results in the beginning of new phase in J&K arms struggle. The large scale deception turned Yousuf Shah into Salahuddin and he was one of the pioneers of armed struggle in Kashmir. Pakistan openly came in support of Kashmirs liberation movement and supplied money and ammunition.
Anti-India movement is an expression of the denial of Freedom of Expression to Kashmiri people. Repercussions of 1987 elections forced India to rethink and recheck its policy vis-a-vis Kashmir and finally India realized that suppressing peoples Freedom of Expression is no more in the interest of India and in 2002, first time in history of Jammu and Kashmir somehow a free and fair election took place.
Situation in others parts of Kashmir are not cozy either that are under the control of Pakistan. Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan have also not enjoyed the real taste of democracy. Pakistan has always installed puppet government there in order to control its political system and economic resources. Pakistan also has a history of rigging elections. Pakistan is treating these regions as their colonies to suppress Freedom of Expression of its people and fulfill their imperialist agenda. The recently held elections in Gilgit Baltistan in which PML-N won majority of the seats makes it clear how they are dominating the political system of these areas.
Kashmir is not merely a political issue for India and Pakistan. Both the countries look at it from economic perspective also. Kashmir in spite of being the upstream and rich in water resources has been affected badly due to Indus Water Treaty. The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayoub Khan. As India and Pakistan take credit for concluding the historic Indus Water Treaty, the fact remains that it was concluded at the cost of the economic rights of Kashmir without taking into account our interests. Kashmir remained economically backward and couldn’t build its industrial infrastructure because the water resources which are backbone of the J&K economy have been snatched by this treaty. It provides benefits to both the countries but it is the Kashmir which is at the receiving end and has suffered a lot over the years.
New Delhi remains non-committal on the genuine demands made by Kashmiri from time to time. India is treating Kashmir as its colony. It can be realized from this fact that New Delhi is not interested in making Kashmir a self sufficient and always want to see Kashmir with a begging bowl before New Delhi. Recently, union power minister during his visit to Kashmir had ruled out royalty of agreements between state and NHPC on corporation owned projects in JK. He also made no assurance of transfer of two power projects—Dul Hasti and Uri-1 to JK. It shows their rigid attitude vis-a-vis Kashmir and how they are exploiting the water resources while taking Kashmir for granted which is strongly pitching for the transfer of at least two power projects and increase in its power share from 12 percent to 25 percent.
Economy of Pakistan is mainly dependent on agriculture. The only reason Pakistan wants to get hold of Kashmir is because of the water resources that Kashmir has. The western rivers which flow on their part, they want to gain the control of the land which is presently under Indian Territory so that their future remains secure.
Dialogue between India and Pakistan has still remained confined to mere rhetoric as both the countries are not serious in resolving Kashmir issue. Instead of showing any positive approach, both the countries are involved in blame game politics. They are exploiting Kashmiris for their vested interests. Kashmiris are getting exploited from both the sides which is very unfortunate.
Kashmir is a humanitarian issue that needs a permanent but pragmatic solution which should be acceptable to all the sections of society. India and Pakistan must shun their differences and start constructive dialogue process for the betterment of their countries. Both the countries must adopt realistic approach vis-a-vis peaceful settlement of Kashmir is concerned, which would not bring only bring peace in Kashmir but also usher a new era of development in whole sub-continent region. The cordial relation between both the countries is imperative for the development of South Asia which is badly affected, directly or indirectly, by their rivalry.

—Courtesy: Rising Kashmir
[Author can be mailed at [email protected]]

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