KASHMIR PROBLEM: A BIG FUSS IN SOUTH ASIA
GENESIS OF KASHMIR PROBLEM
Pakistan has repeatedly tried to wrest Kashmir by force once, by aiding tribesmen force in 1947 and once by infiltrating regular troops in to Kashmir in 1965 to trigger a popular revolt. In the 1960’s and 1970’s it tried to subvert the Kashmir’s loyalty by creating subversive cells in Kashmir. After the 1971 India Pak war, Indira Gandhi tried to solve the Kashmir problem, where for the first time Pakistan accepted Kashmir as a bilateral issue to be solved by discussion between the two countries.
However Pakistanis territorial ambition of annexing Kashmir remains undiminished. Meanwhile it tried to gain geopolitical advantage by intruding in Kargil in 2000, which it had to leave due to Indian military offensive and pressure from US. India considers itself in legal possession of J & K by virtue of Instrument of Accession Act. Indian military presence in the state was right because the Instrument had given her control over its Defence. The military assistance given by Pakistan to the raiders was therefore a hostile act and involvement of Pakistani regulars was an invasion of Indian Territory. Pakistan’s stand is that India’s presence in J & K is illegal, as Maharaja Hari Singh had made a standstill agreement with Pakistan in 1947, which barred the state from entering into any negotiation and agreement with any other country. However people had overthrown Maharaja who fled Kashmir before signing Instrument of Accession Act. The Pakistani Army intervened to foil an Indian invasion of its soil and to prevent India from presenting the world with a faith accomplished by forcible possession of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore Pakistan is equally responsible for the dispute. Pakistan insists on India vacating Kashmir and holding plebiscite there in accordance with U.N. resolution to ascertain the will of the people.
India’s stand is that UN role is over, as Pakistan has not complied with its direction to vacate the ill occupied part of Kashmir, and has unilaterally attended the geopolitical position by ceding part of Kashmir to China. It says that people of Jammu Kashmir have exercised their free will by voting in assembly elections. India regards J & K an internal matter and is willing to discuss it bilaterally under Shimla Agreement India does not permit third party intervention whereas Pakistan’s efforts is to internationalize the issue.
- FACTORS FACILITATING TERRORISM IN KASHMIR
In 1947 the Kashmir overwhelmingly sided with India against Pakistan as they were perturbed over Pakistanis attack on their land and butchery of tribesmen, and thought their interest would be safe with secular India. They remained loyal to India during 1947, 1965 and 1971 during India Pakistan wars. Tribal’s willingly provided intelligence and logistical support to Indian army in these wars. However when India itself referred the Kashmir Issue to UNO, accepted the UN managed cease-fire and a plebiscite for Kashmir in future for ascertaining the wishes of the people about their future status and allowed a military group to be based in Sri Nagar (which still exists) Kashmir’s could not be blamed for believing that Kashmir’s accession with India was not permanent, the principle of the right of self- determination for Kashmir was inherent in terms and conditions of the accession and ceasefire. The public demand for autonomy for J & K was reinforced by inclusion of Art 370 in the constitution.
The demand for self -determination grew into secessionist movement; which was at first political and later turned pro-terrorist, because of the people’s sense of frustration, anger and alienation due to neglect of their welfare, denial of free exercise of their democratic rights and the people’s perception that India’s continual intervention in J & K political affairs and administration was eroding. J & K was promised autonomy. Removal of Shekh Abdullah in 1953, installation of subsequent chief ministers, reinstallation of Shekh in power, Congress backed defection of ML AS forcing them to resign in 1984, installing G M Shah and removing him followed by Rajiv Gandhi’s deal with Farooq Abdullah making him chief minister without holding election were in public mind political manipulations to deny them normal democratic rights and processes. Nor were serious efforts made by Delhi to integrate the masses of this restless region into the national mainstream. The problem of the educated unemployed youth was a major factor contributing of alienation and inclination of the youth towards militancy. We should accept with a great deal of regret and dismay that our achievements were marginal, we were unable to make any dent on unemployment.” Despite enormous financial aid given by India to Kashmir, the people have always lacked basic amenities such as hygiene, clean, drinking water supply and primary health. The cities and towns of Kashmir present a picture of utter filth and neglect.
The impetus towards military was provided by Farooq’s political machinations for the state assembly election of 1987, which the public regarded as totally fraudulent. The participation of MUF in the state politics would have been a healthy trend, diverting their separatist tendencies into democratic channels, and generating a more pluralistic polity. Denied this opportunity they became the nucleus of violent militancy in Kashmir. Given the consistent failure of democracy and limited employment opportunities, military gained momentum in the valley. Several of the Muslim political parties, who had been components of the MUF formed wings. Hence the slide towards secessionism and violence was rapid while disorder prevailed and militancy simmered. Farooq allowed matters to drift. There was no serious effort to stem the growing violence and lawlessness except occasional brutal repression by police force. Violent protest grew there in 1988 and 1989; while the state administration was paralyzed disgruntled youth went to Pakistan in large numbers for framing. The surrender of the Indian government following the kidnapping of Rubiya daughter of the Home Minister triggered the upsurge of popular revolt and terrorism, as Kashmiris seething with frustration, anger, alienation rejoiced at India’s humiliation, thinking that Azadi was at hand, and terrorists became heroes for defying the might of India. As grave lawlessness and disorder prevailed, the Governor’s rule was enforced in J & K on January 19, 1990. Terrorism kept on rising on J & K till 1995 but in 1996, the people’s movement mostly stopped due to fatigue and disillusionment. Meanwhile various initiatives including assembly election, cessation of offensive operations, against terrorists (called cease fire) by the government talks with Pakistan at Lahore and Agra, and talks with militant and separatist groups failed as the people’s alienation and neglect were not addressed by the state and central government.
Terrorist strike evokes counter action from police and security forces. An estimated 30000 persons including militants, serving personnel and civilians have died in this strife. About 3000 terrorists including about 1000in the Jammu region are estimated to be killed in J & K. Nearly 50% of them are foreigners. Occasionally they carry out ferocious and deadly fidayeen attacks on high profile targets to attract world attention e.g. attacks on the J & K assembly and Indian Parliament (December 13, 2001). To disrupt the J & K assembly elections in September-October 2002 they hit numerous targets, which resulted in 800 deaths in Kashmir. There are no indications that the terrorism in J&K is on the retreat.
No solution is possible without a genuine understanding with; Pakistan. As Pakistan is determined to create trouble in J&K. Terrorism and secessionist movement would not be defeated in near future. However it is within India’s capability to win the hearts and minds of people and blunt the terrorist movement considerably. The 46% voter turnout in recent assembly elections in rural areas, defeat of Farooq’s NCs and its ally BJP, emergence of alternative political forces such as Congress, PDP and independents show that the majority of people have rejected terrorism as well as the party which rules Delhi and the inefficient Farooq government and have voted for change. But the extremely poor voter turnout in major towns of Sri Nagar, Baramulla which have been the hub of terrorism and secessionist movement in the 1996 indicates that these movements are alive and continue to be alienated after having suffered the most from neglect by the administration, unemployment and the impact of counter terrorist operations on their lives. Effective initiatives for rebuilding J&K, enhancing the welfare of the people generating employment and allowing the state politics to grow democratically are immediate requirements. These economic and political grievances should be addressed by the state and central government.
Kashmir problem is more than five decades old. On20,1947, Pakistani tribes men invaded the independent state of J & K in violation of the standstill agreement signed by Pakistan and Maharaja Hari Singh Six days later, the Maharaja acceded to India in return for military assistance. On Dec. 30,1947even while war was going on India took the issue to the UN. Since then a solution to the problem has not been worked out.
THE CHENAB FORMULA
The Chenab plan calls for a portion of the state along its communal ethnic fault lines. It was to cut apart Jammu and Kashmir along the Chenab River, with the predominantly Muslim areas to its north going to Pakistan, and predominantly Hindu and Buddhist areas remaining in India.
One of the most important things that could be done to build a better J&K would be rebuilding Kashmir’s economy and providing employment and career building opportunities to the Kashmiri youth. India must also commit itself to give adequate autonomy to Kashmiri ensuring that the profit of autonomy reach the grass root level. It is also necessary to get the confidence of the Kashmiri people by patiently listening to their problems and making efforts to solve them.