Strategic Considerations: Realizing Peace in Kashmir

One wonders what our ever-mercurial chief minister is up to when he says: ‘One day the man-made line of partition would vanish, as has happened in Europe”. This startling statement of Dr. Farooq Abdullah has appeared in the local English daily Greater Kashmir, dated April 23, 2001.

He has suffixed his assertion with the optimistic note that “people of both the countries would live like friends”. On this hope, there can be no two opinions, but one would like to ask him a question. Does he mean that the borders at Wagah or elsewhere would cease to exist or the two distinct nations of India and Pakistan (now there is a third nation or country called Bangladesh) that came into being as a result of partition of British India shall get united? Even if the idea of confederation is mooted, the boundaries that already exist shall not be obliterated. And how can such a proposal come through unless two or three independent nations, who are members of the United Nations Organization or their accredited constituent assemblies, freely choose in favor of such as confederation? Last but not the least: if New Delhi and Islamabad shall have no dividing lines or boundaries between them, why does he propose that the cease-fire line in Jammu and Kashmir (now renamed as the Line of Actual Control after Simla Agreement of 1972 between the two nations) be treated as an international border? Is he talking so with prior approval of New Delhi? We are afraid, resolution of Kashmir dispute is not as simple as that.

Assuming that ‘Asian Age’ (New Delhi) is correct in its editorial comment: “In fact, APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) has gone on record to insist that they are seeking a political and not a religious solution to the issue and Pakistan’s claim to the valley can only be justified on religious grounds” (quoted in “Absurd Utterance” Kashmir Observer April 24, 2001), it would be unfair to brush aside other factors like geography, terrain, culture, ethnic affiliations and other geo-political considerations. Here powerful nations like USA and China appear to be waiting in the wings, readying themselves to come to center-stage. This will be dealt with.

New Delhi newspaper is sore on Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, for showing his affiliations by kissing the soil of Pakistan, as soon as he alighted from the airliner that carried him to Lahore from New Delhi. The paper likes to insist “The Kashmiri leaders are keen on autonomy, and a certain distance from Delhi, and also Islamabad”. “Certain distance” can mean continuation of alienation. To this our response should be: “Why maintain unfriendly distance? Why not encourage friendly Srinagar-New Delhi and also Srinagar-Islamabad equi-distance. This is the crux of my 926-page Volume `KASHMIR DEADLOCK-KEYS TO UNLOCK’, copy where of is already with Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

And now a few comments on the strategic aspects of Kashmir imbroglio:
The excerpt given below is reproduced from a book entitled “ENGAGING INDIA” published in 1999 by Routledge, New York and the article by Miland Thakar captioned “Coping with Insecurity _ The Pakistani Variable in Indo-US Relations” (page-233):-

With the radical changes in the strategic equation that Indo-US cooperation would imply for South Asia, Pakistan would be faced with the following options:-

1. Accept Indian dominance and try to develop better relations. Adopt a conciliatory attitude, as Ayub Khan did in 1960, and aim for accommodation with India.

2. Follow the current strategy of domestic military expansion, encouraging insurgency in India to keep it occupied within and acquiring missiles and nuclear weapons to provide a deterrent.

3. Follow an external policy of pressuring India through China while attempting to retain ties with the United States.

4. Attempt to recover Kashmir through a short, quick war before India maximizes its power.

The peace process in Kashmir has a direct link with India’s concern about Chinese nuclear threat. Following 1998 nuclear tests, Indian Prime Minister wrote to US President as follows: “We have an overt nuclear weapon state on our borders – a state that committed armed aggression against India in 1962”. (ibid page-12).

In view of the strategic ramifications referred to above, it appears childish on the part of Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari of Jamia Masjid, Delhi, to demand that Indian Muslims be involved in the peace process in Kashmir. However Azam Inquilabi appears to be nearer the realistic and pragmatic approach when he says “a united and an organized approach should be adopted on this `national’ issue”. It calls for a clarification from Inquilabi Sahib as to if he considers Kashmir to be a new and fourth `nation’.

Meanwhile, a revealing article, titled Zhou en Li and Nehru by K. R. N. Swamy has appeared in Kashmir Times, Jammu (April 22) which states that “In 1956 Zhou seems to have had an idea that he could tell Nehru that China will accept the MacMahan line as the border in North East India in return for the Aksaichin plateau”.

My friend late Mir Abdul Aziz, Editor Weekly Insaf (Rawalpindi) was responsible for another revelation that Zhou en Li had suggested to late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in Algiers that China would support an émigré Kashmiri government in Chinese Eastern Turkistan (Sinkiang) if Abdullah would agree to it. But Sheikh Sahib had conveyed the Chinese plea to New Delhi!

Kashmir continues to be a vexed, problematic issue and the return of peace in the state, particularly in the valley, is dependent on various factors which have to be taken into account by Hurriyat if Professor Abdul Ghani is serious in his claim that there are only three parties: India, Pakistan and Hurriyat.

Post Script:

We here in Kashmir would be well advised to take a lesson from the events of December 19, 1971, when proverbial thanedarie. USA, under President Richard Nixon, ordered Task Group to the Bay of Bengal to threaten the Indians. But eventually withdrew the Navy, keeping its complicated triangular diplomacy with the Soviet Union and China. The same drama can be replicated in Kashmir peace process, keeping in view the commercial interests of USA in the Indo-Pak sub-continent, notwithstanding Pakistan voluntarily or otherwise signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Quotation from the Book “The Presidency of Richard Nixon” by Melvin Small -1999 published by the University Press of Kansas, USA.

Mr. Muhammad Amin Pandit is a well-known political analyst at the Kashmir Observer.

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