|Kashmir baney ga Pakistan
Daily: The Nation
In a statement of the President General Musharraf, on October 25 at an iftar dinner in
Islamabad, “identify the (seven) regions (on ethno-geographical contiguity), demilitarize
them, and (then) change their status”, division of Kashmir is embedded.
It is the third proposal in a historical row to change the status of Kashmir. The first scheme
was, as per the Indian Independence Act 1947, to give a right to the people of the princely
state of Kashmir to vote for joining either India or Pakistan or remain independent. The
second format was that Kashmir would join Pakistan against Kashmir should join India
(Shah Rag vis-à-vis Atoot Ang). Now, the third design albeit implicit one is to divide
Kashmir. That is how changing time dictates its changing terms.
The implied division of the total identified seven regions of Kashmir is into three portions.
One portions each to India and Pakistan while one (the Kashmir valley) as independent or
under joint control or under the UN mandate. Out of the total seven regions, Pakistan may
get another two regions (Muslim majority) contiguous to AJK and the Northern areas, which
are the other two already possessed regions. India will get two regions. One is Jammu
(Hindu majority) while the second one is of Buddhist majority area. The seventh is a region
of Srinagar and the surrounding area (Muslim majority); it will be made independent.
Now, looking back at the recent history, the presidential “food for thought” is not new. Mr.
Nawaz Sharif was also working on it in the wake of Lahore Declaration. It seems that an
army General takes almost five years to learn how to tackle the lingering political issues,
after having stepped in a political office. The important point is: not the ‘elected’ Prime
Minister but the President (who is also a Chief of Army Staff simultaneously) issued the
statement based on the formula of give and take — a result of the track II initiative. Nawaz
Sharif was the first casualty of that initiative.
One of the differences between Nawaz Sharif — the former and deposed Prime Minister —
and the President Musharraf to handle Kashmir issue is what the former was doing behind
the door the latter is doing publically. However, in spite of difference in approach,
conclusion is the same: divide Kashmir. At that time, the Kargil expediency foiled Nawaz
Sharif’s efforts and resulted in surfacing a rift between him and Pervaiz Musharraf. At the
end, the gun ruled while the pen succumbed. That remains the truth behind the rhetoric
‘who pushed me into water’.
The Kargil operation, in its essence, was to internationalize the Kashmir issue to let involve
the big powers and also the UN, as a third party. The ultimate objective was the
implementation of the UNSC resolutions calling for a plebiscite: to join either India or
Pakistan. The issue undoubtedly got an international dimension but has lost its plebiscite
element as well as possibilities of Mujahideen’s infiltration, as evident now.
The US has several times reiterated — implicitly in public — that its plan A about Kashmir
issue is an independent Kashmir, which may not be acceptable to both Pakistan and India.
Moreover, its plan B is that both Pakistan and India should work out a peaceful and
acceptable solution through a dialogue. The plan B revolves around division of Kashmir to
the satisfaction of both the countries. By awarding independence to the valley (Srinagar
and surrounding area) the disgruntled Kashmiris will also be satisfied.
Where Mr. Bill Clinton pushed Nawaz Sharif, Mr. Bush has shoved General Musharraf in the
same direction indicating consistency in the US policy towards Kashmir issue. Recently, Mr.
Collin Powell, the Secretary of State, has said that he arranged the first words of
reconciliation between India and Pakistan in the wake of eyeball-to-eyeball standoff of
2002. Resultantly, the India-Pakistan peace dialogue commenced. It means that the US
policy will remain consistent towards Kashmir irrespective of the entry of any face (Bush or
Kerry) in the White House.
It should not be difficult for India to agree on division of Kashmir, as she was on the same
path with Nawaz Sharif’s government. Moreover, the division on other than communal lines
will help her to subside various separatist movements on its soil. In solution of the Kashmir
entangle, India finds its international status higher especially as an aspirant to join G8 and
the UNSC as permanent members. India may object on demilitarization of Kashmir regions,
which are already in her possession. However, this condition can be waived off once the
Kashmir regions’ distribution is amicably settled.
For the Pakistanis, deep in the proposed ethno-geographical planes, religion is present as
a reality. Hence, for them, the division is implicitly on communal lines fulfilling their desire of
preservation of the two-nation theory. Secondly, the “food for thought” also rules out any
future military conflict in the South-Asia. Thirdly, the LoC is poised to extend further inside
the presently Indian held Kashmir before its final acceptance as a permanent border.
A dilemma to the whole scenario may unfold where the Kashmiris are declaring themselves
a third and original party to the dispute. A main challenge to them has been posed in the
October 25 statement that they are not one identity rather divided on different religious,
ethnic, and geographical facets. Hence, they need to be divided according to their
respective non-religious affiliations. However, by awarding independence to the valley, the
religious identity of the Muslims of the valley will be recognized as a reward for their
sacrifices. Further, the Kashmiris who want to reside in the independent valley may be
allowed to do so.
It is still to be seen whether Kashmiris of either portion of the ‘new found land’ get ready to
abandon the slogan of Kashmir Baney Ga Pakistan and get contended with a ‘truncated
and moth eaten Kashmir’ like the ‘truncated and moth eaten Pakistan’ or not?
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