Mainstream, VOL LIV No 43 New Delhi October 15, 2016
What is the Permanent Solution of Kashmir?
Sunday 16 October 2016
by p.c. jain
Kashmir has been a thorn in the flesh of India since 1947. Just after independence soldiers in the garb of infiltrators attacked Kashmir in order to bring pressure for the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. On the request of the then ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, to India to help to fight the infiltrators, India after the accession of Kashmir to India sent its troops to fight the infiltrators. The Indian forces saved Srinagar from falling into the hands of the infiltrators and marched further to push the infiltrators out of Kashmir’s border. However, the Government of India stopped the Indian Army to move further from Punch on the apprehension of a full-scale war with Pakistan and complained to the Security Counsil on January 1, 1948.
Instead of taking a clear stand on aggression by Pakistan on the complaint of India, the UN muddled and messed the issue and Kashmir became a subject of Cold War between the USA and USSR.
Western countries have since the beginning taken a pro-Pakistan policy. The USA was keen to set up its military base in Gilgit and that could be possible only if Kashmir became a part of Pakistan.
Several committies, arbitrators and mediators were appointed from time to time but they failed to bring about reconcilation between India and Pakistan.
It is a matter of fact now Kashmir is a double-faced problem. On the one hand, it is the most important subject of difference and dispute between India and Pakistan; and on the other hand, it is a problem of fighting out and elimi-nating separatist and terrorists. The two are, however, intertwined. From time to time Kashmir’s problem flared up and the situation reached the brink of war such as in 2008 and 2010. However, full-scale war was averted due to the intervention of the UNO and great powers.
The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani by the security forces has again exacerbated the situation and led to mass agitation and protests. Even a popular government is failing to cope with it.
The Central Government is deeply involved in this imbogrilo and is trying to control the situation. PM Modi is talking about a permanent and peaceful solution. Modi has also declared that they are prepared to find a permanent solution within the ambit of the Constitution. He has also talked of unity and love.
Chief Minister of Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti has also talked about finding a solution through dialogue with the separatists and also Pakistan.
Pakistan, instead of any reconciliatory attitude, is bent upon exploiting the situation. The PM of Pakistan nominated 22 MPs to go to different countries of the world to explain Kashmir’s problem and seek support for Pakistan’s views. India has categorically opposed third-party intervention.
During the past 70 years no permanent and peaceful solution to this problem could be found. The United Nations and its various mediators and arbitrators could not find a solution agreeable to both the parties. During this period most of the people have been alienated from India. The security forces are regarded as the forces of occupation. Thus the people of Kashmir feel disenchanted.
Several proposals, such as the partition of Kashmir, independence of Kashmir, autonomy of Kashmir, accession of Kashmir to Pakistan or to India have been made by different people at different times but none was acceptable to all concerned. Neither India nor Pakistan is ready or will ever be ready for a permanent solution under which Kashmir as a whole goes to Pakistan or goes to India. Kashmir is already a part of India and is equal, with certain exceptions, to other constituent States.
Pakistan and some Western countries are insisting on a plebiscite which was also promised by India in the beginning but due to both national and international situations this was impossible.
Pakistan has been armed to its teeth. It is a member of the so-called defence pacts. There have been several elections and the people of Kashmir participated in them. This proves that the people in general are with India. Under these circumstances plebiscite is not necessary. It is a big question to find a permanent solution agreeable to all concerned.
Then what is the solution which may be acceptable to all concerned? This is much more than talked about. Some years back a solution was suggested by some scholars. However, their suggestion remained a quiet one and neither of the governments talked about it. This solution is to accept the Line of Control as the inter-national border which means that Jammu and Kashmir which is with India as on date remains with India and Pakistan occupied Kashmir goes to Pakistan. This may be accepted by separatists as the ground reality of the present situation and may satisfy the people on both sides. The special status which has been given to Kashmir in the Constitution (Article 370) should continue without any question and not only that, some more autonomy in internal affairs may be given to Jammu and Kashmir. For this purpose the Constitution may have to be amended. This will also ensure the security, interests of both India and Pakistan. This may appear preposterousbut what can be the other permanent solutions? Plebiscite in no case is acceptable. Similarly independence of Kashmir cannot be accepted by India. A larger autonomy under India’s Consti-tution will not be acceptable to Pakistan and the separatists. Partition between Jammu and Kashmir, that is, on communial terms, cannot be acceptable. That will irreparably damage the whole basis of secularism which is the foun-dation of India and thus it cannot be accepted by this country.
Under these circumstances partition on the basis of the Line of Control is the only solution. It is like taking a bitter pill to swallow.
The preliminary step towards discussion on the solution creating appropriate atmosphere should be withdrawal of the security forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 and shifting them only to the borders. This will indicate our desire to have a peaceful and permanent solution. Security forces in Kashmir have become a subject of anger and hatred for the Kashmiri people. Their atrocities have made so many enemies than friends.
The author is an Associated Professor (Retd.), Department of Political Science, Bundelkhand College, Jhansi.