Friday, October 07, 2016

The Kashmir Conflict Needs a Solution Now

Nasir Khan, October 7, 2016

Despite Indian army’s blinding of hundreds of Kashmiri youth and terrorising millions of Kashmiris in the recent weeks, there is only one outcry that is reverberating throughout the Kashmir Valley: Azadi, Azadi (Freedom, Freedom) from the Indian occupation of Kashmir.

Instead of heeding to the demands of the people who have ipso facto rejected the Indian rule, the Indian government is resorting to the same old methods it has used since 1947 and expects the people will forget what they have been demanding for the last seven decades. This is a myopic political game. It has not worked in the past. It will not work in the future.

The ongoing military skirmishes along the Line of Control are meant to divert the world attention from the major issue that India is facing in Kashmir and refusing to accede to people’s demands. A wise leadership in Delhi will look at the issue from a different angle now with a view to find a solution to the old conflict we inherited because of the Partition of British India in 1947.

The fate of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was decided by military power, shabby deals and false promises of holding plebiscite that would allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their future. What is needed now is not military confrontation and warmongering. A new war is not going to solve the Kashmir issue. India and Pakistan have already fought two wars because of the Kashmir conflict. Did they solve the Kashmir issue? They did not. Any new military confrontation will prove to be even more destructive and totally futile. Hurling poor soldiers, both Indians and Pakistanis, in the kiln of war and killing innocent people will hardly have any positive consequences. The Kashmir conflict will not disappear even if they unleash a third war. The Kashmir conflict has to be addressed politically and with good will a negotiated settlement is possible.

The people of India and Pakistan were not born to be the enemies of each other. The toxic propaganda by the rulers of the two states has been instrumental in creating enmity between the people of the two countries. Religious and political extremists and hate-mongers in both countries have also poisoned the minds of millions of people.

However, it is a fact that the people of the two countries belong to the same broad culture of the Subcontinent. They look very much the same. For example, a Pakistani Punjabi, whether a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian is not different from an Indian Punjabi, whether a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian. They are very much the same people. If they were left to themselves they will get on well with each other as they did before the Partition of 1947.

As a secular person in matters of State and a humanist in relation to all Believers and others, I appeal to the political leaders of India and Pakistan to follow the path of peace, stop sabre rattling, and avoid provoking nationalist and religious passions of the people. Nothing good will ever come out of cheap emotionalism.

Every political realist knows that the Kashmir Conflict is not so easy either. The parties have to take into account many factors in finding a workable, equitable and acceptable solution. This can only be done when the rulers of India and Pakistan take concrete steps to seek a solution to the conflict by letting the people of Jammu and Kashmir decide their own future. This way of dealing with the issue has the potential to make India and Pakistan as close partners in trade, education, joint projects for the welfare of the people of the region instead of using enormous resources on military and military hardware.

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