Kashmir and Tibet
A PRAGMATIC, PEOPLE ORIENTED, SOLUTION
A strategy paper proposing autonomy to Kashmir and Tibet,
under the joint suzerainty of neighbouring nations
The problems in South Asia started with the rejection of Gandhi. Gandhi was totally opposed to partition on the ground that the Hindu and Muslim communities are deeply interwoven in the social fabric of the sub-continent. Today, India has more Muslims than there are in Pakistan. Further, the oppression of the Muslims of Sindh, Baluchistan and North East Pakistan, and the breaking away of East Pakistan to form Bangladesh, clearly show the internal contradictions of partition on grounds of religion.
Gandhi wanted a true democracy in which power flows upward from the people. Ignoring Gandhi, a centralised polity, based on exploitative colonial Institutions, was installed. The desire to centralise power led to the partition of India. Kashmir became a victim of indecisiveness of, and mishandling by, the Indian leadership.
1 Facts about the Discord
In keeping with the terms of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the ruler of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir ceded it to India. Pakistan tried to illegally occupy Kashmir by infiltrating irregular armed raiders. Indian forces pushed them out from the Srinagar valley. The Indian leadership unilaterally ordered cease-fire, and offered plebiscite, provided Pakistan vacated the portion left in its illegal occupation. Pakistan never did so. According to India, the plebiscite has become inoperative.
China came under communist rule in 1949. Thereafter, it started infiltrating Tibet, then an independent nation of people of ethnic origin different from that of the Chinese, and having cultural links with India. China fully occupied it by 1959. Indian leadership refrained from interfering, and to appease socialist China, recognised its sovereignty over Tibet. Tibetan leaders and over one lakh people took refuge in India. They feel let down by India.
In 1962, China attacked India and grabbed substantial part of its territory bordering Tibet. Pakistan, in lieu of support, handed over portions of Kashmir in its illegal occupation, to China. The issues of Kashmir and Tibet are thus intertwined and need to be resolved together.
Controlled by the military and the clergy, Pakistan is a democracy only in name. Dominated by the feudal interests of Punjab, it abused East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and is still abusing its own Muslims of Sind, Baluchistan and the Northwest region. Some Muslim sects of Pakistan such as Shias and Ahmedias, and Muslims who migrated from India, called Muhajirs, are being badly treated. Before Pakistan stakes claim over Kashmir on grounds of religion, it should learn to take care of its own Muslims.
With a single-party rule, rightist economic model and a powerful war machine, China has now acquired characteristics of fascism. It is also the biggest violator of human rights. The US government has been asking China to democratise. There is a big people’s movement in USA on autonomy for Tibet. The civil society in India however appears insensitive to the subjugation of the people of Tibet and China.
2 Resolution of the Discord
Pakistan wants India to honour plebiscite in Kashmir as offered by it in 1948. Plebiscite is not acceptable to India since Pakistan never vacated the territory in its illegal occupation. Recognising the line of control as the international border is sometimes suggested. Any solution that divides Kashmir is anti-people, unstable. It destroys the integrity and culture of the people of Kashmir.
The present stalemate cannot be allowed to linger unresolved. Pakistan will continue indulging in terrorism in Kashmir in which innocent families get uprooted, killed or maimed.
The ego of India and Pakistan cannot be allowed to decide the fate of the innocent Kashmiri families targeted by terrorists, and languishing in refugee camps in India. A stable solution must be evolved at all cost.
Autonomy under Joint Suzerainty
There can be no lasting peace so long as Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. The ideal solution is that the entire Kashmir should be with secular India. Had the Indian leadership not withheld its forces, it could have achieved this in 1948. Today, India is unable to regain its territory under Pakistan’s illegal occupation because of international commitments. A legitimate solution, sympathetic to the people, for uniting the two Kashmirs needs to be evolved.
A pragmatic solution is that autonomy may be offered, to (1) Unified Kashmir under the joint suzerainty of India and Pakistan, provided its minority communities vote in its favour; and, (2) Tibet under the joint suzerainty of India and China. Ladakh and Jammu, that are predominantly non-Muslim, can through referendum choose to remain in India. The civil society of India, Pakistan and China should take the initiative for creating pressure on their respective governments for accepting such a solution. India, Pakistan and China need to treat Kashmir and Tibet, not as real estate, but as people.
Kashmir will then have autonomy over social and economic issues. It shall however not be allowed to maintain any military. India and Pakistan will post military attaches in Kashmir to oversee that neither of them violate the integrity of Kashmir. A similar arrangement can be created for Tibet.
India and Pakistan are abusing their own people under faulty constitutions. Neither has the moral authority to stake claim over Kashmir, unless they can assure the people true democratic rights.
If Kashmir is granted autonomy, its people should approve its constitution through an institutional mechanism for referendums, ratified by both India and Pakistan. The global community should pressurise China also to democratise through a similar mechanism.