The Kashmir

March 15, 2007

Don’t play blind to Mush’s K-game


Edited version of earlier post . Source :MeriNews Musharraf is playing smart on Kashmir chessboard. India needs to be wary of his four-point formula, which couches Kashmir Study Group’s proposals. Indian government is shockingly falling into the trap. What shall be the fate of Kashmiri pundits?

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INDIANS, IN PARTICULAR, must read Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf’s memoir In The Line Of Fire. Not because it is well written. Also, not because it was given a wide publicity. But for the reason that it offers an insight into the foxy nature of General Musharraf.  

In the memoir, General Musarraf does not mince words; he criticizes his superiors and accepts that he is not one of those who has been disciplined in his life. Besides rebuking his military and political colleagues, he packs punches against India too. The crafty person he comes out from the book contradicts his recently acquired peacenik image after he proposed own formula for the resolution of the vexed Kashmir crisis. His calculated statements have led to world leaders mounting pressure on India to prioritize the settlement of Kashmir issue.

India needs to be wary of the General’s move and should not give in to his tricks. If it acts in haste, India would compromise a lot and Kashmiri Pandits would lose almost everything.   Last year, General Musharraf suggested division of Kashmir into different zones and withdrawal of Army from two regions — Baramulla and Kupwara. These two regions are the most affected by infiltration of terrorists. You can very well imagine what will happen if India chooses to scale down its military presence in these areas.   

 Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh shockingly welcomed Musharraf’s devious four-point formula. The point missed was that this thought through four-point formula was an outcome of a long Pak-suited study. The formula, which talks of joint supervision of the seven regions, was presented long back by Kashmir Study Group (KSG) in the US. It was on December 1, 1998, that the formula was presented by the Kashmir Study Group headed by Farooq Kathwari. The group members are various House representatives and academics. The group proposed “that a portion of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir be reconstituted as a sovereign entity — but without an international personality — enjoying access to and from both India and Pakistan.” You may very well understand why the suggestions came first from the US and why the US government hails the four-point formula. In 1999, Farooq Kathwari met Dr Farooq Abdullah in Jammu and immediately after that the National Conference demanded more autonomy and proposed the creation of the Pir Panjal region — comprising the Muslim-majority Rajouri-Poonch, the Chenab valley region, Doda and Udhampur districts. This was obviously to divide Jammu province on religious lines. Similar proposals were made for bifurcating the Ladakh region into the Muslim-majority Kargil region and the Buddhist-majority Leh. The controversial report of the Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC) — tabled in the J&K Assembly by National Conference and now in the process of being implemented — bears striking similarities with the KSG proposals. And, it’s no matter of accident that hush-hush trips are supposedly being made by Kathwari to Islamabad and New Delhi. Kathwari notably is a successful Kashmiri businessperson who supports independence of Kashmir.  Kathwari owns Ethan Allen, an upmarket furniture company, which among other high-profiles has White House as its customer. Farooq Kathwari’s two sons had died in Afghanistan when they had joined the jihad.  

Pakistani spokesperson’s stand Pakistani spokesperson Tasleem Aslam is on record for having said, “Pakistan never claimed Kashmir to be an integral part of Pakistan. What we said is Kashmiris should be able to decide their future. We hope they would opt for Pakistan. This is what they have been saying.”   In September 2006, General  Musharraf, while speaking in Governor’s House in Central London, spelt out his vision of Pakistan and how Pakistan has progressed in the last few years. He was greeted with emotionally charged slogans of Pakistan zindabad. But, suddenly some of the Kashmiri invitees started shouting Kashmir banega Pakistan to which first General Musharraf said “zaroor (certainly)” in a slow voice which was heard only by those in the front rows. But as the the slogans grew thicker and louder, he smiled and said, “Naaro say bhi banega aur aqal say bhi banega (Kashmir will become Pakistan through slogans and wisdom)”. He suggested subtly that his government’s Kashmir policy is based on wisdom. 

Indian reaction Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he welcomed “all new ideas with an open mind” and that it was time both the countries worked together for a new future. “In the last few days, many suggestions have come and I welcome all of them with an open mind. We can create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility through mutual consultations and co-exist peacefully,” he told a public meeting. External Affairs minister Pranab Mukerjee later said on December 14, 2006, “The fact that the Lok Sabha had passed resolutions declaring the two states as an integral part of India did not make them non-negotiable.” Chief Minster J&K, Ghulam Nabi Azad, also seconded Musharraf’s formula, saying there was no problem with his idea of “joint management” of the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir. More recently Azad has been talking of limited joint management.   Where does all this leave Kashmiri pundits? The picture on the wall is becoming clearer. One should be ready for more of such proposals from Musharraf during Mukhejee’s visit to Pakistan and then a blueprint of India’s compromise on Kashmir when Manmohan Singh visits Pakistan. The pressure is visible and what surprises me is that the media underplays all these events. Is the media being gagged or is it being manoeuvered to do so?

 In such a situation the only possibility left for Kashmiri pundits is to assert to be a party to the dispute. They should come out strongly with their demands, which must include a separate homeland for them. If the Kashmiri pundits still wait for the day when Kashmir will be signed off, they would have only the history to look at. Time has come when the battle lines need to be drawn. With rest of Kashmiris, with the Indian government and with the different negotiating parties. A solution cannot be reached without fulfilling the Kashmiri pundits’ demand for a separate homeland as a Union Territory. Else we would have “visitors” with free passage whom we once termed as “Qabaalis”.  

Join hands, Indians. If not now, you will be villains in history books of the nation.

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