Don’t be apologetic about Kashmir

Don’t be apologetic about Kashmir

February 12th, 2009 By Nitish Sengupta

 It is strange that a section of the Indian public, small though it is, has nowadays become apologetic about India’s role in Jammu and Kashmir. True, there have been cases of human rights violations in recent years on the part of the security forces, but that has to be viewed in the context of the overall growth of militancy and fundamentalism in the Valley, with direct support from across the border. In any case, the issue to ponder is: should these recent cases of human rights violations alter the role played by India in the last 60 years in J&K — in upholding secularism and the right of the people to choose their future? In 1948, when Pakistani raiders attacked J&K, the Maharaja acceded to India by a valid instrument of accession. Under the Indian Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament, it was the ruler’s right to decide accession either to India or Pakistan, and he exercised his bonafide right. Let us also remember that in keeping with the Indian freedom movement’s tradition of democratic self-assertion, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru insisted on the Maharaja releasing Sheikh Abdullah, the undisputed leader of the Kashmiris, from prison and making him the prime minister. He also announced that when troubled times were over, the people of J&K would be given a formal right to decide their own future. Nehru’s mistake was to go to the United Nations which resulted in the Security Council passing a resolution that, after troops withdrew from J&K, there would be a plebiscite. The Pakistani raiders never withdrew from the places occupied by them and thus the question of a plebiscite remained an empty promise. In any case, the resolutions passed by the Security Council in 1948-49 lapsed and lost their validity, as declared by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, two-three years ago. Since 1948, there has been a sea change in the political configuration of the subcontinent. Pakistan is no longer the self-proclaimed homeland of Muslims in the subcontinent. Bangladesh, which emerged in 1971, has a much larger Muslim population and, to that extent, Pakistan’s claim over Kashmir is no longer valid. As a matter of fact, India’s Muslim population is twice the size of Pakistan’s population. And, Pakistan has a poor record of democracy. Indian Muslims should, therefore, be more articulate in proclaiming that Kashmir is a part of India. Kashmir is the only state in India where they have a majority and where they wield power. It may be advisable to send select Indian Muslim leaders and Bollywood stars, such as Shah Rukh Khan and Shabana Azmi, to international forums to proclaim that the majority of Indian Muslims support J&K’s accession to India, which should have been final long ago. On what ground can Pakistan claim to be a party in the J&K dispute? Since 1947, several elections have been held in J&K and the people of the state have participated in electoral process to choose their own government. The recent elections registered record polling. It should be emphasised that India’s elections, on the basis of universal adult suffrage, are as good as the so-called plebiscite. Incidentally, the people of Pakistan did not enjoy this right for long years when they were under military rule. Thus Pakistan has no moral claim to be a party in J&K. It is unfortunate that in about one-third of the state, still under Pakistan’s illegal occupation, people have neither got a taste of democracy nor development. India too has not done anything significant for the people of so-called Azad Kashmir, under Pakistan’s occupation, except providing substantial relief to the victims of a deadly earthquake. From time to time, there have been talks for rationalising the present division of the state. Indeed, we lost a golden opportunity at Shimla to solve the J&K problem once and for all when Indira Gandhi returned occupied territory and 93,000 prisoners of war without extracting any concession from Pakistan, such as the recognition of the ceasefire line and the boundary between the two countries. There is no other example of such generosity in all history. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto went back on whatever formal assurances he might have given and the Kashmir problem returned to its old form. India has made enormous sacrifices in J&K. Four wars have been fought with Pakistan, including the Kargil conflict of 1998. Pakistan has been fighting a proxy war through jihadi groups which have now become a problem for Pakistan itself. In this context, it becomes amply clear that India has no reason to be apologetic about J&K, but should dismiss Pakistan’s claim to be a party in this dispute with the contempt that it deserves. Kashmir’s accession to India was and is as valid as the accession of more than 600 other princely states to India. Some Western countries, perhaps to pursue their “enlightened self-interest”, have been giving tacit moral support to Pakistan and kept stoking the fire. Liberal military and economic aid has been provided to Pakistan to “fight terrorists”, some of which has been diverted to fund separatists in Kashmir. Our external affairs minister has often stated, in clear terms, that Kashmir is a bilateral issue to be solved through mutual negotiations by India and Pakistan, and that other countries need not meddle in this. We should also dismiss glib utterances by other players, such as the recent statement on Kashmir by British foreign secretary David Miliband, with the contempt they deserve But it is necessary to sit with the elected leaders of Kashmir to devise how best and to what extent we can return to the political set-up envisaged in the 1975 accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah. There should also be discussions on the J&K Chief Minister, Mr Omar Abdullah’s proposal to facilitate return of the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community to the Valley and to replace the CRPF with the state police and, finally, to resume the developmental process, and through that to enlist people’s active support against cross-border terrorism. More importantly, Kashmiris have to be convinced that their long-term interests lie in remaining with the galloping economic power that India is, rather than the failed state and economic liability that Pakistan has become. Nitish Sengupta, an academic and author, is a former Member of Parliament and a former secretary to the Government of India source:Deccan chronicle

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4 Responses to Don’t be apologetic about Kashmir

  1. Pingback: Digest for 02/14/09 | Buddhism Info

  2. neel123 says:

    It should be clearly understood that, only after the Tibetians get Tibet, and the Balochs get Balochistan, can there be some change in India’s position on Kashmir.
    The human rights abuse of the kashmiri hindus needs to be addressed first, for any solution of the Kashmir issue.
    The apologetics in India are actually the enemies within. India first needs to fight the enemy within, in order to be able to defend itself from the external threats.

  3. Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri says:

    You are living in fool’s paradise…..can you compare the killing of kashmiri hindus with the mass murder of more than 90 thousand innocent unarmed Kashmiri Muslims. India is and will pay a heavy price for the occpation and genocide of Muslims in Kashmir.

  4. Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri says:

    Only 250 hindus were killed compared to more than 90 thousand Muslims…..India has created 90 thousand terrorist(one from each family) due to its own evils

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