By Dr. M.K. Teng
Now that the Government of India has repeated its Sharam-ul-Sheikh performance at Thimpu and offered to resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan, virtually jumping over the stand it had taken in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Mumbai, there is much more that the Indian Government has to explain about what it intends to do in Jammuand Kashmir. Evidently the climb-dam by the Government of India on crucial issues involved in its policy in respect of Jammu and Kashmir, reflects a willful surrender. This perhaps eminates from its inability to face political blackmail and pressure brought to bear on the Indian leaders in the name of economic development and under the cover of peace and security of the region.
The Indian policy reflects a strange sense of helplessness, which pervades the outlook of the Indian political class and which acts as an impelling force to drive those in power to invite Pakistan to the conference table again and again, after every small and major misdemeanor Pakistan has committed. Every time, Pakistan has returned to the conference table, grumbling and growling at the inability of the Indian Government to make the composite dialogue purposeful and result oriented. The cause of concern is not the abrasive attitude of Pakistan, but the uneasiness with which the Indian political class reacts to it.
The Indian Government has rather, with deliberate intent, tried to play down the way Pakistan has expressed its dissatisfaction with the purpose and the pace of the peace-process. It is mainly because the Indian leadership has shown reluctance to face the prospect of laying down a baseline of its policy on the Kashmir issued In fact, the Indian political class has so far evaded the crucial decision of fixing the “irreducible minimum”, beyond which it would not go to reach a settlement with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir. Its exhortations to urge upon the Indian Government” to walk an extra-mile” from its “stated positions” in order to be able to reach an “out of the box” solution of the Kashmir problem and its extravagant eagerness to nudge the Indian Government “to go far enough in its engagement with Pakistan, to reach, a settlement on Kashmir”, are idle expressions used to camouflage the subterfuge it has indulged in so far. The truth is that the Indian political class has never mustered courage to stand upto its neighbors. In fact, the Indian political class has never shared with the Indian people the import of defending their borders.
The Government of Pakistan, its military establishment as well as the civil society in Pakistan, are, all agreed upon the baseline of their stand on Jammu and Kashmir. The civil society in Pakistan has, on no occasion, found it necessary to urge upon the Government of Pakistan, “to walk an extra-mile” in order to reach an “out of the box settlement” on Kashmir. Pakistan has stuck to its stated position that : (a) the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir are apart of the Muslim nation of Pakistan (b) the Muslims of the state of Jammu and Kashmir acquired the right to unite the State with the Muslim homeland of Pakistan from the partition of India, (c) the Muslims of the State were denied their right to unite the state with Pakistan in 1947, when the ruler of State Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India, against their wishes and (d) India, which pledged itself to implement the United Nations resolutions, envisaging a plebiscites to enable the Muslims of the State exercise their choice to determine the final disposition of the State in respect of accession, has not redeemed its promise.
From the very inception of the peace-process, which was primarily an Indian initiative, Pakistan has unflinchingly stuck to its self-righteous commitment that its claim to Jammu and Kashmir, based upon the Muslim majority composition of the population, is non-negotiable. Pakistan has stressed time and again that its claim to Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the Muslim majority composition its population underlines the principle on the basis of which India was divided in 1947 and the Muslim homeland of Pakistan was created. Pakistan has repeatedly stated that the partition of India marked the culmination of a historical process which underlined the Muslim struggle for a separate Muslim homeland in India, comprising the provinces and the regions of the British India populated by the majority of Muslims and Muslim princely states. Pakistan has consistently held that the partition of Indian recognized the Muslim majority composition of the population of the British India and the princely States as the basis on which the territorial jurisdiction of the Muslim homeland was determined. The Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has claimed in unequivocal terms, is a manifestation of the unfinished agenda of the partition of India.
The Muslim League laid claim to the Muslim ruled princely states as well, on the basis of prescription and conquest because it could nor bring itself round to accept the exclusion of the Muslim ruled states from the Muslim homeland of Pakistan. The Muslim League leaders considered the Muslim ruled princely states to be the citadels of the Muslim power in India, which had survived the establishment of the British rule inIndia. The insistence of the Muslim League on the lapse of the Paramountcy was used by it to isolate the Muslim ruled states. Except that the lapse of the Paramountcy caused the Muslim League some tactical disadvantage in the Jammuand Kashmir, its acceptance by the Congress brought India to the verge of disintegration. Were it not for the people of the Muslim ruled States, who defeated the designs of the Muslim League and the Muslim rulers, India would have been divided further. The ideological commitment of the Muslim struggle for a separate Muslim homeland in India to secure the Muslims in India, a separate freedom which ensured them the realization of their Islamic destiny was fundamentally Muslim in outlook. The territorial claim to a Muslim India, comprising the Muslim majority provinces of the British India and the Muslim ruled States the Pakistan Resolution envisaged, was also Muslim in outlook. The claim that the unification of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan is the unfinished agenda of the partition of India is also Muslim in outlook.
Pakistan has not allowed its stand on Jammu and Kashmir to be wrapped in any ambiguity. In fact it has spelt out the baseline of its stand on Jammu and Kashmir in unmistakable terms. It has refused to deviate from its stated position that the Muslim majority composition of the population of the State is basic to any settlement on Jammu and Kashmir. It has refused to delink the Muslim majority composition of the state from the right of self-determination, which it has consistently maintained, flowed from the partition of India. Exactly, as the Muslim League agreed to divide the Muslim majority provinces of the Punjab and Bengal and the Hindu majority provinces of Assam, on the basis of population, Pakistan has offered to accept the division of the State on the basis of population, as a basis for a settlement on Jammu and Kashmir. It has proposed the separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State, comprising the Muslim provinces of Kashmir, the Muslim majority districts of the Jammu province and the Muslim majority district of Kargil in the frontier division of Ladakh and their unification with the Muslim homeland of Pakistan, as the irreducible minimum which it is ready to accept as the basis of a solution of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. The participation of Pakistan in the peace-process, in the ultimate analysis, is aimed to persuade the Indian people to accept the application of the principle which underlined the partition of India, as a basis of a settlement on Kashmir.
Interestingly the peace-process carried on between the Vajpai Government and the Government headed by NawazSherrif; followed by negotiations between the Bajpai Government and themilitary regime headed by General Musharraf; the long and atrocious talk held at the Track Two level, largely a framework of conflict resolution, fabricated by the American diplomacy and the Manmohan Singh-Musharraf parleys leading to the so-called “non-territorial settlement” on Kashmir; reveal a continuity in the stand taken by Pakistan. The stand taken by Pakistan has underlined; the separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State, on the Indian side of the Line of Control with their eventual disengagement from the Indian Union and their re-integration within a framework of political imperatives evolved by the two countries India and Pakistan, with the consent of the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Musharraf plan lay bare theperfidy. It recognized the separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State and their reorganization into a new political entity on the territories of India which was governed by Pakistan. The Musharraf plan envisaged the division of the State into six geographical zones of which five were Muslim majority zones, the transfer of power in the state to the Muslim separatist regimes under the garb of self-rule; withdrawal of the Indian armed forces from the State in the name of demilitarization; the unification of the Muslim majority zones situated on the Indian side of the Line of Control with theoccupation territories of Azad Kashmir under the cover of “irrelevant borders” and the placement of the State under the joint-control of India and Pakistan. Manmohan Singh cried aloud, undoubtedly to attract the attention of the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and perhaps, the Muslims in India, to the historical task, he had accomplished by putting Jammu and Kashmir on a ten year long journey tojoin Pakistan. The Musharraf plan provided for the revaluation of the arrangements made in accordance with its provisions after ten years a stipulation which the Indian Government tried to underplay.
Pakistan appears to have convinced itself that India has finally accepted the principle of the partition of India as the basis of a settlement of Jammu and Kashmir. Evidently the impatience and the urgency, the Foreign office of Pakistan has exhibited about the progress of the peace-process, arises out of its eagerness to evolve a procedure for the separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State, their disengagement from the Union of India and the eventual integration with the Islamic power-structure of Pakistan.
The territorial boundaries of Pakistan, laid down by the partition of India in 1947, were confined to the territories of the British India. The Indian princely states were not brought within the scope of the partition of India. The claim Pakistan has laid to Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the Muslim majority composition of its population did not from a part of the process of the partition and the transfer of power in India. The right of the self-determination of the colonial peoples was an expression of the historic process of decolonization, the Second World War set into motion. The right of self-determination was never conceived as an instrument of any religious war. India was not divided to ensure the Indian people their right of self-determination.
Jammu and Kashmir forms the most crucial part of the northern frontier of India. It continues to be central to the security of the Indian borders in the north. Any prescription for a second partition of India, to disengage the State from the Indian Union will not usher in a State of peace between India and Pakistan. Peace between the two countries will always depend upon the mutual respect they have for each other’s strike capabilities. The Indian political class, whatever, the nature of its commitment to the Indian unity, cannot ignore the hard fact that Pakistan has a stock pile of nearly two hundred nuclear weapons in its basement. Pakistan is an ideological state-a fact, which the Indian people can overlook at their own peril.
*(The writer heads Panun Kashmir advisory).
Source: Kashmir Sentinel, April 2011 issue