Kashmir issue and the Quaid | By Khalid Saleem

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Kashmir issue and the Quaid


IN considering the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah vis-à-vis Kashmir, one needs only to allude to his assertion in which he called Kashmir the jugular vein of Pakistan.

It is important to be clear: by this assertion the Quaid was not making a rhetorical statement.

The Quaid was not given to making rhetorical pronouncements. He was a realist; not an idealist.

As a pragmatist and a jurist, he chose his words with care before uttering them; and he was a man of his word.

Let us then apply our minds to what his assertion about Kashmir implied. The jugular vein and the body are mutually inter-dependant. Pakistan’s life-blood – water – passes through Kashmir.

Kashmir’s life force – its commerce, its people’s very livelihood, its cultural heritage – all lay through its contacts with what is now Pakistan. Both Kashmir and Pakistan have suffered all these years because of artificial man-made barriers between the two.

Regrettably, the Quaid-i-Azam did not live long enough to influence the events that followed.

The question that presents itself begging for an answer is: if he had lived for a few more years would he have allowed this issue to linger on for so long? We may do well to give this aspect some thought. Regrettably, the leadership that followed the Quaid singularly failed to live up to his ideals.

Several issues – the Kashmir issue among them – that should have been tackled betimes and were not – are a testimony to this.

This is neither the time nor the occasion to go into the history of this issue. Suffice it to state that after the Quaid, successive leaderships appear to have missed the bus. The struggle of the people of the State predates the partition of what was then British India.

Even before the British left, the people of the State had already asserted, through a valiant struggle, their inalienable right to decide their own future.

When the matter landed in the Security Council of the United Nations, the World Body went on to put its stamp of approval on this fundamental right of the people of the Jammu and Kashmir.

The right of self-determination of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was guaranteed by the United Nations.

As a result of the resolutions of the world body, four parties to the dispute were explicitly recognized: 1) The government of India; 2) The government of Pakistan; 3) The people of the State; and, by implication, 4) The international community, through the United Nations.

Any movement towards a final settlement of the issue should, therefore, need to be endorsed by all the four parties

No one party has the right to unilaterally impose a settlement nor, in deed, to move the goal posts.

This remains the internationally recognized position. Certain misconceptions and cobwebs that have clouded the issue need to be clarified and swept away. Firstly, this is by no means a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan.

While there is no bar on bilateral discussions or negotiations between the two countries, any decisions taken by them are not legally binding unless they are formally endorsed by the remaining two parties. Secondly, this is not a religious issue.

The decisions of the United Nations are based on the universal fundamental human right of self-determination of all people of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their religious denomination.

The universal right of self-determination is a secular concept and it must be accepted and recognized as such.

India has tried to present to the world that the Kashmiri resistance is being waged by so-called ‘Islamic fundamentalists’.

This is not correct. If the lid of Indian state military occupation were to be lifted, it would become evident that the Kashmiri resistance has a much wider base in the disputed state than what India’s establishment would have the world believe.

Thirdly, the Indian claim that the resistance inside the state is a result of so-called ‘cross-border terrorism’ stands exposed by the emergence of the ‘intifada’ of the young people of the state.

Generation after generation of the people of the state has continued to render untold sacrifices against fearful odds.

Had the struggle not been indigenous it would long have collapsed under its own weight. The fact that it hasn’t should be seen and recognized by the international community.

The Indian establishment has tried off and on to confuse the international community by comparing the Kashmir issue with the India-China border dispute.

The two are not open to comparison. The India-China border dispute is about territory, while the Kashmir issue is about the fundamental human rights of over ten million people.

You can freeze disputed territory but how can you freeze the genuine aspirations of millions of people? Here it must be admitted that part of the responsibility for the apathy of the international community vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue lies with the rather uninspiring diplomatic efforts of Pakistan.

It is necessary to break out of the cocoon of defensive diplomacy and to be proactive in a world that is fast shrinking.

Pakistan, as the smaller country, has more to lose, but India too cannot escape the consequences.

The two countries must resolve to equitably settle the contentious issues between them, among them the Kashmir issue.

The longer these issues remain unsettled, the more the chances of their emerging as festering sores, eating into the very vitals of the region. The world is moving very fast.

Options are shrinking by the day. There is no time like the present. The leaderships of the two countries should do well to grasp the moment. In so far as Pakistan is concerned, an equitable settlement of the Kashmir issue would repay part of the debt we owe to the father of the nation.

— The writer is a former Ambassador and former Assistant Secretary General of OIC.

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