Remembering war potentials of Kashmir


Dr Rajkumar Singh

SOLUTION of the Kashmir problem is important not because it is a Muslim majority area but because it
has the key to normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. The initial war of 1947-48 could not get it done and the matter was put before the UN. In response to India’s complaint and Pakistan’s explanations the world body had passed two resolutions in April and August 1948, respectively. The resolution contained three parts of which first one was related to the ceasefire that had come into effect from January 1, 1949. Ceasefire between the two had left with India its major and best part while Pakistanis had control over smaller and less important part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan-controlled part of the territory is called ‘Azad Kashmir’ but India had retained its traditional nomenclature. After some years the issue of Kashmir had become a part of the cold war. While the Anglo-American Bloc was inclined towards Pakistan the (former) Soviet Union sided with India.
War of 1965: The war of 1965 convinced Islamabad that Kashmir could be gained only through internal rebellion and not through external aggression. Following the war India signed Tashkent Agreement which was a more disappointing for Pakistan than for India. Z A Bhutto, the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan, defended the agreement by saying that only when the people of Jammu and Kashmir have exercised their inherent right of self-determination and that the Declaration was only the dialogue between India and Pakistan for a permanent solution of the ‘tragic dispute’. In due course the idea for self-determination was converted in the dream of a Azad, Independent Kashmir. For the purpose an organisation named Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was formed. In the recent past several other organisations have also been set up to look after the idea of Kashmir’s independence and demanded integration of the portion of territory occupied by Pakistan and controlled by India. The demand of the right of self-determination and independence for the State of Jammu and Kashmir had led the problem in the direction, beyond the control of New Delhi and Islamabad.
War of 1971 and Shimla Agreement: From the viewpoint of security and integrity of Pakistan its war with India in December 1971 was the worst. The 13-day direct fight had disintegrated Pakistan and a new sovereign, independent nation–Bangladesh emerged on world’s map. The agreement at Shimla was the result of this war in which Pakistan accepted the problem of Kashmir a bilateral affair that should be settled between the two countries. The promises made at Shimla were short lived and the two had at straight fighting in Kargil in 1999. Till now four wars had been fought between India and Pakistan keeping this problem at the centre.
Despite a humiliating defeat at the battlefield Pakistan handled the aftermath well in diplomatic terms. The direct results of the war and the agreement that followed were return of PoWs, withdrawal of troops and resumption of diplomatic relations. Apart from this the Shimla Pact also contained a Kashmir settlement comprising four parts. The last paragraph of the pact not only grouped together a Kashmir settlement but also bound the parties to another summit to resolve them all. ‘Both governments agree that their respective heads will meet again at a mutually convenient time in the future and that, in the meanwhile, the representatives of the two sides will meet to discuss further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of durable peace and normalisation of relations’. On the issue they were also afraid of the United Nations and both the leaders – Mrs. Gandhi and Bhutto expressed willingness in the Rajya Sabha and National Assembly respectively to resolve the problem bilaterally. Unfortunately, the proposed summit was never held and promises could not be translated into action.
Developments after 1971: In the post-Shimla period several rounds of unsuccessful discussions were held between India and Pakistan and for a number of years it had set the course of relations between the two. In between 1972 and 1989 Pakistan never raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir or described it as a “Core Issue” in any of the discussions. On the other hand alienation of the people of Kashmir continued as earlier. It was made considerable headway due to the sequence of events and the general mood of the public became from anti-government to anti-India. There has been a persistent policy of denying Kashmir a right to democracy: One-party rule has been imposed on the state through manipulation of elections, opposition parties have been prevented from growing and elementary civil liberties and human rights have been denied to the people. This refusal to integrate Kashmir within the framework of Indian democracy has proved to be the single greatest block to the process of Kashmir’s emotional and political integration with the rest of India. The basic premises of this policy are that the Kashmiris are unfit for democracy. This is not only an insult to the people of Kashmir but to all democratic sensibility.
In 1998, the Kashmir dispute attained an extra dimension when India and Pakistan became overt nuclear powers. By the time Pakistan embarked on the Kargil operation in 1999, the low-intensity conflict in Kashmir was yielding mostly negative results for Pakistan in terms of international support. The operation clearly meant to highlight the Kashmir cause, failed to make Pakistan realise that it had become too isolated internationally for the policy of highlighting to work. In afterwards offers and counter offers were made for the settlement of Kashmir by both countries but they rejected for reason best known to all.
— The writer is Professor and Head, P G Department of Political Science, Bihar, India.

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