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Will Kashmir Issue Hamper India's Progress?

By  M.M. Munshi

 

The relations between India and Pakistan have been bogged down over the Kashmir issue  since the  division of British India   in 1947.Neither diplomatic negotiations  nor  three wars i.e 1947-48 , 1965 and 1999 have brought the  two countries closer to any agreement. After the defeat of Pakistan  in 1971 war  which was not triggered  by Kashmir but reluctance of West Pakistanis to accept a  government  lead  by East Pakistanis  (Bengalis).The war resulted in  disembarkation of Pakistan , emergence of independent Bangla Desh and surrender of about 95,000 Pakistani  army and paramilitary personal  to Indian Army  in a 12 days war. For about two decades after the humiliating defeat  Pakistanis licked their wounds and  offered only lip service to Kashmir issue . After realizing the superiority of Indian   Armed Forces in conventional warfare   the Pakistanis secretly  initiated   by fair and fowl means work on manufacture of nuclear weapons with substantial help from the Republic of China . In order to forestall any opposition from democratic forces within the country to his autocratic rule  General Zia Ul Haq  the 2 nd Military Dictator of Pakistan transformed the moderate  Islamic state  of Pakistan  into a fundamentalist one which encouraged  the Mullas to rule the roost and dominate itís politics. To show progress on Kashmir issue the so called unfinished  agenda of the partition of British India , General Zia planned the proxy war  in the  Indian administrated state of Jammu & Kashmir which started immediately after his death.

Pakistan is mainly  interested   in  complete control of  three rivers namely Indus ,Jhelum and Chenab flowing through the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistanis have a fear that at  some  latter stage India may not scrap the Indus Water treaty  and divert the waters of these rivers in full are part for its own use .Another factor that worries Pakistan about is that  its  North Western part  including Islamabad is well within striking distance from western  and south western borders of  Jammu and Kashmir .Whenever there was a war Pakistan  fought with courage of despair  in Chamb sector to forestall any major offensive by an Indian strike force  into central Pakistan , Annexing the Muslim majority state of Jammu & Kashmir , in reality is of  lesser importance  than fears of  diversion of  river waters and a possible Indian attack.

Pakistan transformed the local uprising by Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front[ which was also initially  sponsored by Pakistan ) as its  larges by involving Islamist terrorist organizations  like Lashkar-e- Toiba  and Jaish-e-Mohamad   replacing the former(JKLF) completely.. The terrorist organizations lost popular support  because of  their harassing and terrorizing  the locals   by extortions, killings and at times rapping of  the women folk. In due course of time the Indian  police and security forces  substantially   contained the insurgency  and Govt. of India also  responded by holding three elections in the state in 1996,2002 and 2008 which independent observers and journalists reported as free and fair.

Immediately after the bus journey by then prime minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee  from Amritsar to Wagah  border and Lahore declaration  In 1999 Pakistan sent regular troops in the garb of  locals into Kargil area across the line of actual control  and occupied  remote but strategically important  positions with the intention of disrupting moment of traffic on  vital Srinagar  Leh Highway and insulating Ladakh from the rest of the country.  At first the BJP led Indian Govt. down played the incident. but soon afterwards  to everybodyís surprise  Indian Army  vigorously counter attacked uphill across the  sub vertical hill slopes and dislodged the Pakistani intruders . Moreover the International community including  United States condemned the Pakistani aggression  and strongly supported India. The  Pakistanis were forced to withdraw by  the  vigorous Indian counter attack  and political pressure from US President Bill Clinton.

In the recent past Indiaís economic growth ,diplomatic influence and overall prestige have considerably increased The new international profile of the country has added a different dimension to its on going confrontation with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. It is unlikely that the two countries despite the repeated renewal of talks and peace process will reach a settlement in near future..Twice  (1999 and 2001-2) the two countries were about to resort to  use of nuclear  weapons. India approximately administers about two thirds of the original State of Jammu & Kashmir while Pakistan holds most of the remainder. China grabbed the Aksai Chin  plateau while India stuck to  the  out dated theory of British imperialists that no country would be interested in a bleak area like Aksai Chin. To appease China and for getting their support for Kashmir  and other issues, Pakistan ceded the area of Raksam valley to the former in1963.

After the Pakistani  sponsored  blasts in  on Diwali festival at Delhi and subsequent attacks on Indian Parliament in December 2001 both countries resumed talks  but no tangible results were achieved except the cease fire along the Line of actual control  , bus services between Srinagar and Muzafrabad and Punch (J&K) and Rawlakot(POK) and trade also across the LOC. Relations between the two countries  were hardly normal when Pakistani sponsored militants of Jais-e-Mohamad  struck Mumbai in 2008 taking the sea route and killed about 164 people including foreign nationals  and wounding about 300 in Taj  Palace Hotel, Oberai Trident Hotel, Nariman Bhawan  and Chatarpati  Shivaji terminus, Cama hospital and other places . When questioned about it Pakistan at first flatly refused to take the responsibility   terrorist attack had originated from tits soil, latter due to international pressure however admitted that it was carried out by non state actors though India gave them enough evidence  which proves otherwise. .Pakistanis with one pretext or other has avoided / refused to stop aiding the terrorist organizations and consider them as their allies against India.

More ever Pakistan Government is under pressure from the fundamentalist clergy , their allies in Parliament  and its army to annex Kashmir by fair and fowl means , accordingly Pakistani Government continues to aid the terrorist organizations. But what the Pakistani authorities whosoever they are fail to understand that  Indiaís  patience with Pakistani Sponsored terrorism  in Kashmir or elsewhere in India  is nearly at an end . It is now clear that that forbearance of the past on the part of Indian Government may not survive another Pakistani sponsored  state or non state terrorist attack. To day the Indian army is well prepared to under take swift surgical and decisive action by retaliating against targets of its own choosing in Pakistan.

Neither the Kashmir dispute  nor the insurgency had  any significant effect on Indiaís rise to international prominence  During 19 60s and 70s theorists of repute predicted  that  uncontrollable increase in  population ,slow economic progress  ,  Naxalite/ Moist    movements,  tensions along religious, caste and ethnic lines  will result in  Indiaís doom. But on the contrary India has exhibited a remarkable recovery except for a brief period of from June 1975 to March 1977 it has managed the crises without abandoning the  path of democracy. India has achieved tremendous economic growth  bid farewell to its policy of non alignment  and improved its relations with western powers including United States. All these achievements have materialize in spite of the naxal problems in  Central  and Eastern India, occasional flares in North East and continued Pakistani sponsored  terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of the country. There is   least chance of India  not being able to maintain  its domestic stability and improve its economic growth even if Kashmir issue remains unresolved. Kashmir issue may not be immaterial to the peace  and may remain a flash point  for another Indo Pakistani conflict but it is not going to block Indiaís progress and its diplomatic relations with most nations of the world including a number of Islamic  countries. It  has become fashionable  for world leaders  to advise India  that it should settle the Kashmir and other issues   with Pakistan as early as possible which is well said than done. Scores of solutions have been  suggested  but hardly any one of these is  politically feasible. An accord should balance needs of Justice and power for all residents of J&K state Muslims  [both Sunniís and Shias], Kashmiri Pandits, Dogras,Sikhs and Buddhists .Even a plebiscite would fail to address the needs of the states minorities Hardly any Shia, Dogra,Kashmiri Pandit , Buddhist or Sikh would like to join a Sunni dominated Independent State of Jammu and Kashmir. The sad and dismal plight of minorities in Pakistan ,Iraq , Bahrin , Afghanistan  etc need not be repeated here. The ideal solution for Kashmirís minorities would be to continue as part of multi ethnic multi religious multi lingual secular State of India where  Muslim population  exceeds that of Pakistan.. But that may not satisfy Pakistanis who  want to integrate the state as a whole with Pakistan failing which they would prefer to see Kashmir as an independent Muslim dominated Kashmir  friendly/sympathetic  to itself. But that will not be acceptable not only to India  but also China , the latter has made it clear that it wonít tolerate  an Independent Kashmir. India has repeatedly made it clear  that it will not agree to any territorial adjustments in Kashmir .India is facing a number of secessionists movements and is fully aware  as to what  effect  an independent Kashmir  will have .China has also opposed Independent Kashmir  for the same reason as they are facing problems in Xinjiang and Tibet. Most of the ruling regimes of Pakistan have been in the past as well as today  unrepresentative  rather autocratic and dictatorial   East Pakistan now Bangla Desh seceded  from Pakistan as its Bengali population was ill treated  The  Baluchistan  was and is being discriminated so are the Shias even in its Punjab province. Pakistan  the most loud mouthed champions of Muslims of Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir state has exercised  utter disregard  for democratic  practices and institutions  under its own control in Jammu  and Kashmir especially in the so called  Northern areas comprising Gilgit agency and Baltistan area  since 1947.It is a million dollar question how an independent Kashmir  could function or survive.

Pakistan has very frequently relied on the assistance of foreign  powers especially United States China  and Islamic countries to boost its claim for Kashmir and despite its persistent efforts , it is not closer to dislodging India from Kashmir than it was in 1947-48 More specifically  since the end of cold war  most of the nations have lost interest in Pakistanís drum beating about Kashmir As Indiaís trade expands  its military might grows  the world will care even less.  Clinton categorically  stated in 1999  that ďborders cannot be redrawn in blood .Pakistan cannot continue its policy of limited cooperation  with US against  al Qaeda while sponsoring terrorism against India. The principal  terrorist organizations operating in Kashmir neither command loyalty nor believe in democracy. No government in Delhi will grant any concession  without an end to terrorist  violence in Kashmir. Memories of Pakistanís misdeeds against India  in Kashmir and elsewhere being overlooked by US are fresh in the minds of Indian policy makers and still cast doubts  on US friendship. The main cause of persistent  authoritarian rule in Pakistan   is mainly due to constant support financial or otherwise   to autocratic  regimes by the US in the name of expediency  which practically destroyed the democratic fabric in the country and enabled the armed forces mainly the army to  have an effective veto even when civilian regimes were at the helm of affairs. The economic defense and political   disparities between India and Pakistan are significant, the size of Indian middle class has been estimated to be  about 300 million and despite rising oil prices  India has registered its heigh GDP growth . Pakistanís economy despite by substantial expatriate remittances and US aid is much below that of Indiaís growth rate. Indiaís robust democratic institutions  despite some drawbacks stand in marked contrast to that of Pakistanís autocratic  military rule even with its  civilian faÁade. Pakistanís policy makers  mainly  its military establishment   have been keeping the pursuit of ďa thousand cuts against India ď. But their strategy has failed as Indiaís economic, military and political rise will sap its resolve or resources. The countryís growing prosperity will enable it to withstand the cost of sustaining and improving its defense equipment and training.

Finally Pakistan would have to move towards making the Line of control a permanent   international border while allowing contact between communities across the divide failing which the  confrontation  between the two countries  is otherwise also likely to  end up not by war or negotiations  but by Pakistanís exhaustion.

 

 
 

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