“We can choose our friends, but not our neighbors”
News:- Recent developments in bilateral talks , visit of External Affairs Minister to Heart of Asia conference, meeting between the National Security Adviser of both countries.
Indo-Pak relation is of the extremes – there is no middle ground. This is a love-hate relationship.Especially hatred has grown more than the love in the recent decades.In this context , it becomes imperative to understand this volatile neighbor and what it holds for the future.
Pakistani elite have a bitter memory of the opposition to the partition from the Indian National Congress which the Muslim League had to face.Consequently, the Muslim League did not get Pakistan of the geographical parameters which it expected.
It is one of ironies of history that many of those who now live in Pakistan did not approve of the two-nation theory.
The pro-Pakistan movement drew its main strength from Bengali Muslims and Muslims of North-Central India, even this support did not come from the Muslim masses but from the Muslim elite.
Jinnah was eclipsed as a leader of the Indian National Congress by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru, he was lionized as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.The Pakistani view is that the machinations of Lord Mountbatten and the Indian National Congress prevented the emergence of a Pakistan encompassing the entire Muslim population of India.This bitterness still permeates the psyche of the Pakistani power structure.
India’s strong action in Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagadh heightened this bitterness and more importantly, generated a genuine apprehension that India would try to nullify the partition by subverting the state of Pakistan, either by breaking it up or by reabsorbing its territory to what the Pakistanis called Hindu plans of ‘Akhand Bharat’
India’s role is the liberation of Bangladesh only reinforced this Pakistani fear psychosis.
The conflict of 1971 tempered Pakistan’s inclination towards military adventurism for getting even with India, but short of that its power structure continues to have the same mindset.
2)Kashmir Dispute :-
Before getting into serious note lets see what happened once at UN.
A representative from India began:
“Before beginning my speech I want to tell you a very very old story about Rishi Kashyap of Kashmir, after whom Kashmir is named.
When he found a beautiful lake, he thought- ”What a good opportunity to have a bath”,
He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.
When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished.
A Pakistani had stolen them”!!
The Pakistani representative in Assembly jumped up furiously and shouted: “what are you talking about? The Pakistanis weren’t there then”.
Indian representative smiled and said,
“And now that we have made that clear, I’ll begin my speech”-
“And they say Kashmir belongs to them”.
On a different note. as history stands , Srinagar is a city established by Asoka and 4th Buddhist Council carried out here by Kanishka.
The Maharaja Hari Singh was planning to declare his state as an independent country after Independence of India.
But this vacillation on the part of Maharaja prompted Pakistan to invade with the help of tribesmen from North-Western Frontier Province. They launched the attack on October 22, 1947 and within a short period of 5 days reached Baramula just 25 miles away from Srinagar.
Overawed by this attack Hari Sing decided to seek India’s help and pleaded with the Government of India that he is willing to sign the Instrument of Accession in return for saving the state.
While accepting the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. India had said that after the aggression is vacated the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir would be ascertained.
Pakistan in the meanwhile installed a so-called Azad Kashmir government in the territory occupied by the invaders. In the meantime, India had moved to the Security Council under article 35 of the Charter, In fact the decision of the Nehru government to offer plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir seemed to be a serious mistake as it is this clause the support of which Pakistan has taken to prolong its case with regard to Kashmir.
United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was constituted and submitted its report in 1948, the recommendations are :-
First,Pakistan should withdraw its troops from Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible after the cease-fire and that Pakistan should also try for withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistan nationals who are not ordinary residents of Kashmir.
Second,the territory thus vacated by Pakistani troops should be administered by local officials under the supervision of the Commission.
Third, after these two conditions are fulfilled and India is informed about their compliance by the UNCIP, India should also withdraw substantial strength of its troops.
Finally; pending a final agreement India should maintain only such limited troops as should be essential for law and order.
As history stand today, the UNCIP recommendations were violated by Pakistan at every occasion , and unless and until the first two conditions were met , the action expected from India will not follow. Over time, this declaration lost its value in terms of geopolitics.
The cease-fire line (now called the Line of Control) was drawn where the fighting ended. An agreement on ceasefire line was reached in Karachi on 27″ July, 1949. It left 32,000 sq. miles of J & K territory in possession of Pakistan which is called Azad Kashmir by Pakistan.
In the meanwhile, the Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult franchise, ratified the State’s accession to India on February 6, 1954. A Constitution of the State was adopted on November 19, 1956 which declared Jammu and Kashmir to be an integral part of India. India’s stand now is that with the ratification of accession by directly elected Constituent Assembly of Kashmir, the promised ‘ascertaining of pishes’ of the people had been accomplished.India finalized accession on January 26, 1957
3)Should India do a Plebiscite in Kashmir ? :-
This was a debate raised over time and again and was in News through out last year. Many editorials, politicians promoted the cause to do a plebiscite. However , what they ignored is that promoting plebiscite is equivalent to challenging India’s sovereignty .
The reason is simple on why plebiscite is not required :-
Kashmir was attacked when it was Independent and could not safeguard itself . Given the geopolitics now, the chances are that it will be subdued if it becomes independent and will have to go through the diktats either from Pakistan or from China (Given China’s recent interest in this region). Hence Independent Kashmir , neither ascertains safety of Kashmiris nor can it become economically viable .A failed country as a neighbor is the last thing that India wants.Thus Independence of Kashmir may be good for political agenda in the region , but not a viable options from a geopolitical perspective.
India , has never been the aggressor,it was Pakistan who invaded Kashmir and butchered hindus and muslims alike until Indian army’s intervention.Terror has no religion, although , Pakistan is known to give religious sanction to terror activities. Terrorism has only one objective – Political, it serves no religion , spares no humanity.Religion is used for recruitment propaganda so as to find fodder for the canons.Find the young and destitute, give them some biased and subverted literature, show him there is a great cause in dying for religion and how the religion is threatened , train them , give them a fairy tale of heaven and put them as fodder in the canon and fire them at humanity – killing hundreds and terrorizing crores – this is the modus operandi of terror.
Even though Kashmir signed Instrument of Accession , yet India allowed it to have it’s own autonomy, own flag and own constitution . Moreover the legislative assembly passed a resolution as being part of India. Hence any claim on plebiscite thus stands null and void.
Even if , hypothetically, a plebiscite is held in Kashmir – a majority of the opinion will swing in favor of India , the reason being – Independent Kashmir will fail , Kashmir joining a failed state such as Pakistan will fail too. Kashmiris will be left with no access to better education , no prospect of development or finding a good job and leading a good life.
Instead the language of Kashmiri and Kashmir culture will be subverted (History is proof to it – The single reason of creation of Bangladesh is – forcing Urdu upon them by West Pakistan; Pakistan also thrusting Urdu upon Baloch, Punjabi , Pakhtun people in its own region and is the major reason for discontent)
Hence, the only way forward is to safeguard Kashmir and it’s culture , promote development in the region and mainstream the youth of Kashmir with rest of India.Any other alternative to status quo, is neither in India’s interest nor in Kashmiri’s interest.
Of Course, Pakistan will keep chanting Kashmir time and again as it serves it’s political purpose.It is a state where the basic set up of power structure is still feudal.The elites are fooling its youth , the question is how long can it keep it’s youth under the shadow of darkness , given that the world is increasingly becoming a giant “Internet of things” where access to information is seamless and real-time.
Strategists predict that it will implode from with in. Though it might sound good to Indian ears, yet it is not a desirable one. A stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India’s interest. The last thing any one wants is a failed nuclear state as a neighbor which run by trigger happy generals.
4)Way Forward :-
It is often said that , we look-alike, we talk alike, we eat alike , yet why do we keep fighting.
Given the historical and cultural ties , India and Pakistan should move towards amity and peace (“Aman ki Aasha”)
Bollywood transcends boundaries and Pakistani singers are very much liked in India. So Film, Music, Song and Literature can create a healthy bridge of trust , thus should be promoted.
Pakistan education system itself needs revamp which propagates anti-India literature and its civil power should be strengthened. It is often said – ” Every country has an Army, but Pakistan Army has a Country” – this has to change if there has to be better relation.
India is known for its “dove” approach to geopolitics , but Pakistan in every occasion betrayed the trust , hence the deficit of trust has to be built not by India but by Pakistan through confidence building measures .
Pakistan became a sanctuary for terrorists which is not only a concern for India but a global concern.
India, Pakistan and Uncle Sam :-
Uncle Sam(America), acts a pivot to Ind-Pak relationships.For decades America has ignored Pakistan’s misdeeds, but the attitude of Uncle Sam is changing and it is acknowledging the facts that it’s ignorance and pumping billions of dollar only created a monster for the globe. One wonders, what will happen , if at all the nuclear installation comes under extremist organization one day.
Hence , in this context USA can play a constructive role and do the necessary arm-twisting to get Pakistan out of the clutches of Military and strengthen the Civil Government so that it does not act as a proxy to wishes of its Army.
As said earlier , a stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India’s interest and confidence building measures should be promoted. However this does not mean any action to weaken country’s security apparatus.