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Kashmir issue

My thoughts on Kashmir issue, prompted by Musharraf's proclamation that raids in Kashmir are over.

The Washington Post: "Musharraf says raids in Kashmir have ended".

I can’t believe this. The Post must be awfully popular among the terrorists in the Kashmir valley. One fine morning, the grand General wakes up and declares all is perfect and peaceful there in an interview with an American daily.

So far, I didn’t want to write about this conflict, but I feel compelled to pen my random thoughts on this now, especially since my cousin brother is among the one million soldiers India has sent to the border.

Pakistan wants Kashmir to be part of their country, India wants it to be part of India and Kashmiris want to have an independent country on their own.

Pakistan believes Kashmir is their land because Pakistan, the nation, was born out of a desire to have a contiguous Muslim region. And Kashmir was (and is) predominantly Muslim. Can India have that? No. Kashmiri pandits, though Hindu, are as much Kashmiris as are Muslims. When the terrorism started, they were driven out of the valley by the majority Muslims - probably backed by Pakistani Intelligence Service. I don’t think India should agree to any solution where a part of Kashmir is not reserved for the rehabitation of these pandits. For their benefit, it might be better if that region is integrated to India. Another issue is India’s border security. If Pakistan occupies all of Kashmir, with their track record of democracy and penchant to give reason a back seat to religion, the whole of North India will feel permanently under the gun.

The overbearing factor in this scenario is that the defining cause of Pakistan as a nation is the affinity towards Islam, implemented as hatred towards India and Hinduism. It took 50 years after Pakistani independence, and a military despot to even proclaim that economic progress is in the national agenda. With such a national definition and mind set, it is very hard to have peace - because the essence of peace is formed by negotiations, concessions and agreements.

India believes Kashmir is their land because according to the British mandate, the local ruler could choose to go with Pakistan or India. And Kashmir’s Hindu ruler at the time chose to go with India when he feared a take over by Pakistani army. This is such a loose argument to go with, especially since no one considered the Hindu Rajah to be popular among Muslims. Can his decision be treated as a popular mandate? I don’t think so. Unlike Pakistan, India has no unifying cause. Hinduism itself has no unifying cause. Silly and stupid economic policies and unyielding devotion to family rule by the Congress party that ruled India for most of the time succeeded in masking the true issues. Why won’t any of their members ask:

The alternatives are no better either. Personally, I think the right-wing government is in power now mainly because they have consistency in their goals - never mind whether their goals are good or not. The BJP has been successful in converting this national sense of lost direction into championing Hinduism. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the voters think about:

With such a lack of national cause, every damn politician considers fighting for Kashmir or encouraging hatred towards Pakistan as the national cause. With that backdrop, there is no way any Indian government can accept Kashmir under Pak control, with Pakistani guns literally miles away from New Delhi.

How about independent Kashmir? Even if India is agreeable, Pakistan will never agree to that. Independent Kashmir, if it is democratic, can very well survive as a viable economic entity. If Pakistan can’t tolerate progress in Islamic neighbourhood of Afghanistan, how can they tolerate a mint size Kashmir progressing? If Pakistan were to be truly democratic, where criticizing the clergy is not a crime, where intelligence service is not all powerful, this will work.

Though I don’t see any end to the plight of Kashmiris any time soon, what I consider to be a solution contains:

Is this possible? Not in the near future. As long as India and Pakistan does not change their national causes to that of economic progress and peace, this solution can’t even be contemplated.

But, one can hope, right? It doesn’t become all right, if Musharraf or Vajpayee or Bush suddenly decrees it is all right.

  1. this is to inform you about my photographic book on daily life in Kashmir.

    /* Ed: This is a long message with reviews and quotes about the book; which I believe is not the purpose of a comment box on a personal site. Further information about this book can be had from the site below */

    Posted by: Gabriele Torsello on June 10, 2003 10:36 AM
  2. hard headed but fair enough - hence definitely unacceptable to the herd mentality people on both sides of the great divide...
    Nevertheless bash on lonely's wishing you lots of strength and fortitude !

    Posted by: rattanbir singh on June 16, 2003 10:19 PM
  3. I liked your post on the Kashmir issue. However, I don't think that dividing Kashmir in 4 regions will work as the main area of contention is the Kashmir valley. Also, it will be very difficult for Kashmir to sustain as an independent entity as its main revenue generator is tourism. With India and Pak on opp sides, there will always be an issue of security. Its good that you mentioned the Kashmiri Pandit community as they have always been relegated to the background. More should be done to shed light on their plight.

    Posted by: Chinar on October 19, 2004 07:03 AM