Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Farooq fears Gaza fate may engulf Kashmir

K N Pandita

Not only Farooq Abdullah but PDP Chairperson Mahbooba Mufti also has been harping on India talking to Pakistan to resolve Kashmir issue.
Kashmir issue surfaced with Pakistan’s incursion into J&K in October 1947. Frooq’s father Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and his two generations altogether enjoyed power for nearly 35 years. During that long period none of the three felt Kashmir would face dire consequence if India did not talk to Pakistan. Had they any fear of the sort, they would have taken necessary steps to resolve the dispute. They did not because they believed there was not a dispute. If they had believed there was a dispute that needed to be resolved, the simple inference would have been that talks with Pakistan would be held and Abdullahs would be part of the Indian team. This was not acceptable to them for obvious reasons.

They would have certainly joined the talks but with the clear agenda of demanding an independent Kashmir. Were any of the dynasty members certain that Pakistan would be prepared to talk on the theme of independence of Kashmir when it said Kashmir was the jugular vein of Pakistan? Abdullahs thought it good not to stir the issue and not to harp on bilateral talks.

Days before the death of Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah paid a visit to Pakistan and met with President Ayub Khan. The Sheikh tried to sell the formula of Federation of three states, India, Pakistan and J&K. Gen Ayub forthwith rejected the idea and the Sheikh went to Muzaffarabad to sell his story. Before any tangible result emerged, Nehru passed away and the Sheikh forthwith returned to Delhi to mourn the death of his dear friend and benefactor.
He must have told his son Farooq about the sequel of his Pak visit. The Abdullahs remained silent but went on with their schematic grabbing of political power. When Farooq was the chief minister, he is reported to have deputed the NC MP, Shaheen the assignment to initiate secret negotiations with Pakistani authorities about finding solution to Kashmir issue. Perhaps Rashid Shahin’s Pakistan visits procrastinated for a long time. What was the ultimate outcome of those talks, nobody knows and Farooq is loath to divulge because it may contradict his demand for talks with Pakistan.

During their regimes neither Farooq nor Mahbooba showed any seriousness of pressurising India to enter into a dialogue with Pakistan. They cared for their interests and not the interests of the people.
But the demand of talking to Pakistan began only when in 1990, Pakistan sponsored and locally supported anti-India armed insurgency gripped Kashmir. Farooq played his game and with the support of Congress under Manmohan Singh premiership kept the Union government in good humour but at the same time straightened his relations with the militant leadership. When Mufti Saeed came to power through the machinations of the Congress, he also pursued the same agenda of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. His daughter won because of the support of Jamaati Islami and the influential remnants of Plebiscite Front. During their regimes, Pakistani agencies were in constant contact with their Kashmiri chapters like the Hurriyat, Ali Shah Geelani and others, all stoking anti-India fire.

Abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A helped the separatists and jihadists forge strong unity in the shape of Gupkar Alliance of which the lone CPI(M) MLA became the official spokesperson.

In the meantime, Pakistan’s powerful anti-India propaganda did make an impact on Islamic countries of non-Semitic ethnicity like Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Malaysia, who came out in open support of Pakistan on Kashmir. At the UN level also, Pakistan succeeded in influencing some of the Western powers to bring charges of so-called violation of human rights by India in Kashmir so much so that the US Secretary of State, Blinken publicly said that he was concerned about the human rights violations.

The US was unhappy that India did not sign the condemnation resolution against Russia for war against Ukraine. The Muslim countries were angered by India condemning terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October.
The Israel-Hamas clashes disclosed the role of Pakistan in providing training in terrorism to Hamas activists. On finding that Israel was not prepared to sign a ceasefire in Gaza, Pakistan called a meeting of the top leaders of all terrorist organizations to discuss the situation. Reliable reports say that the Hamas leader Haniyah also participated. He is reported to have suggested that Pakistan hand over nuclear threat to Israel so as to cow it down and bring it to the talking table.

Farooq feels that the Middle East war has raised the profile of Pakistan as the ultimate redeemer of the woes of ummah. He feels that in the process, talks between India and Pakistan would alter the present situation and tilt the entire narrative in favour of Pakistan which he considers a solution of Kashmir problem.

India has strong reasons not to go for bilateral talks. Infiltration into Kashmir by Pakistani jihadists continues unabated. Anti-India propaganda and maligning of India is the unending game of Pakistan. The OIC invariably talks of Kashmir whenever the organizations meets but they (including Kashmir separatist leadership) do not want to know what is happening on ground in KP, Baluchistan, Sind and lately in PoJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Why does not Farooq advise Pakistani leadership to engage the dissenting elements within Pakistan to resolve their domestic issues failing which there would be not one but many Gazas in Pakistan. In fact the Gazas are already afoot in those provinces.

India has also many times that New Delhi does not know to whom it should talk in Pakistan. When Atal ji took a bus and travelled to Pakistan and extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, the Pakistani army commander was busy planning Kargil. When Narendra Modi paid an unscheduled visit to Nawaz Sharif, the Pathankot attack happened within days. Pakistan has to tell us who holds power in Islamabad so that bilateral talks could be initiated.

Dr Farooq lament that if the two countries do not talk, Kashmir would turn into another Gaza. It is a very horrendous picture he is contemplating. And if he is a true patriot and upholder of Kashmiriyat, we would suggest him to take the earliest flight to Islamabad and talk to Pakistani authorities to stop sending armed jihadis to Kashmir for creating mayhem and disorder. He should demonstrate the same level of courage and statesmanship as his illustrious father had shown in 1964. But not demonstrating courage of that type, Farooq’s exhortations would be interpreted the outpouring of a senile person.

(KN Pandita is the former Director of the Center of Central Asian Studies at Kashmir University.)

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