Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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Talk to Pakistan but what?

K.N. Pandita

The simple reason for Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to dismiss Finance Minister Drabu was that Drabu thought Kashmir was not only a political issue while for Mehbooba Kashmir is only a political issue to which Pakistan is a party. Hence, her insistence that India talks to Pakistan. What Drabu said trivializes CM’s stance.

In the beginning Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s discourse was India should talk to Pakistan to resolve ‘Kashmir issue’. It has gradually shifted to a new narrative viz. India and Pakistan should reconcile and not confront. More recently, her assertion graduated to India and Pakistan talk the Vajpayee way. New Delhi does not respond.

She does not elucidate what the two countries should talk. The issues in our opinion are (a) Pakistan is an aggressor and India refuses to talk unless aggression is vacated. (b) Pakistan sends fidayeen and jihadis to derail democratic government in J&K. India fights back to maintain her territorial integrity and democratic arrangement in J&K. She will not talk unless Pakistan stops sending jihadis (c) Entire Hindu religious minority of Kashmir has been forced out of the valley after its ethnic cleansing in 1990. Kashmir radicalization has severely jeopardized secular arrangement in the State and the country. It does not need any dialogue with anybody. Chief Minister must decide whether she wants and works for return and resettlement of the exiled community and restore secular status of the State. To address all the three issues the right narrative would be (a) ask Pakistan vacate aggression and come to the table for talks. (b) decide item (c) above at the level of the State government as Pakistan has nothing to do with it. But the CM is talking of parity not equity because it suits her political double speak.

The world knows, and so do the two neighbors that not an inch of land in Kashmir will be given or taken. No power on earth can change the existing line of defence. Democratic political arrangement, planned development, requisite financial investment, constitutional freedoms and guarantees, freedom of press and platform everything that may be considered as fundamentals of a secular democracy are provided to J&K. The people in the valley enjoy the highest income per capita on national and regional levels. Administrative malfunctioning, if any, is the concern of the State government.

Pakistan has created local proxies in Kashmir to wage their war. War means casualties, military and civilian. The life of a civilian in Kashmir is as valuable as that of a soldier for the nation. Making sacrifices of precious lives is the despised and hated option thrust by Pakistan on us. Therefore, any paralleling of the situation is iniquitous. Does Pakistanis need to be told that killing human beings is a barbaric act?

Pakistan is not desisting from the perfidy, nor will she. What was the outcome of Atal Bihari’s unconventional adventure? Kargil! Atal Bihari was a day-dreamer as unrealistic as Nehru. What was the sense in his move that makes Mehbooba harps on re-enactment of that move? With deference to Vajpayee, the move of befriending Pakistan reminds us of the fast unto death undertaken by Gandhi in 1948 for giving 50 crore rupees to Pakistan. Pakistan got the money, purchased arms om London and strengthened her military position in Kashmir, and finally forced India to accept ceasefire while retaining nearly one half of the State of Jammu and Kashmir including the strategic northern areas. What did Vajpayee’s statement of “insaniyat ke nate” actually mean? Was not India handling Kashmir issue since 1947 along “insaniyat ken ate”? If not, why did Vajpayee order resistance to Kargil adventure of Pakistan and instead why did he not “insaniyat ke nate” let Pakistan have her way and capture Karagil and cut off Ladakh all in the name of “insaniyat”. How come his “insaniyat” slogan evaporated in thin air with Kargil event? Extirpation of entire Pandit religious minority was outside the ambit of Atal’s “insaniyat ka nata”.

Chief Ministers preceding Mehbooba, too, tried Pak dialogue antics. With pro-Pak orientation, such antics carry strong element of political endearment. Kashmiris themselves bade good bye to peace in 1990. Conscientiously they hailed ushering in of an epoch of violence and bloodsheds with covert and overt consensus of Kashmirian civil society knowing well that the Congress government in New Delhi was already on board via the Left. Now they are grappling with the Frankenstein. Instead of standing by the side of the people who had voted them to power, Kashmir leadership betrayed the masses.

By contriving the fall of the government in early 1990, Kashmir leadership made space for the insurgents to fill the vacuum. Targeting the minority community was the easiest, non-reactive and most effective strategy of taking Theo-fascist ideology to its logical conclusion meaning the ethnic cleansing in Kashmir. However, to justify this heinous crime, the perpetrators and their cohorts among vast Kashmiri civil society including their leadership, culled out the then Governor Jagmohan as the villain of the piece for the exodus of discriminated minority. Falsehood prospers under Theo-fascist orientation. The ministers having demitted office assembled in Jammu wherefrom they secretly conducted interaction with the emissaries of insurgent groups, while their stalwart, betraying rank cowardice, absconded to London to give full leverage to his conspiratorial clique back home. Therefore, simple logic says that in response to an appeal by the CM, New Delhi – and for that matter even Islamabad – will tell her “Madam! Please set your house in order before you come to us”.

CM’s intentions are debatable if not unmerited. Her late father didn’t make any appeal or effort towards bilateral talks when he was holding the charge of Indian Home Ministry. CM’s sister Rubiya was kidnapped and released a few days later consequent upon a deal struck through the mediation of a late Congressite (now sidelined) with the then Pakistani Premier for freeing jailed JKLF terrorists. Late Mufti Sahib or Mehbooba could have used the same channel for “liberating” Kashmiris. If New Delhi tells her, “Madam, fire your gun from your shoulder not ours” what answer will she give? In 1964 Sheikh Abdullah travelled to Pakistan with triangular confederation formula. President Gen, Ayub Khan told him he had given him (the Sheikh) time for meeting thinking he had come from Kashmir with Pak accession offer in his pocket.

Mehbooba could, as well, make another attempt and proceed to Islamabad via Wagah – the “peace route” which Vajpayee had also adopted – at the head of a strong delegation of Kashmiris including top leadership of both factions of Hurriyat and opposition in the Assembly to talk first to Pakistani civilian leadership to be followed by another with Pakistani military leadership. I am sure PM will support the proposition.

The antics of talks is actually proliferation of her largesse to Kashmir militants thousands of whom she has provided with government jobs. The right thing would have been to make forceful exhortations to the militants to give up arms and make a volte face from Theo-fascism. Instead of singing a dirge for militarized Kashmiris, she should, like a brave and visionary leader-stateswoman, undertake a campaign of going from house to house in South Kashmir, beginning with her own constituency, to tell people to stop sending their sons to militancy, stop hurling stones on security and police personnel and stop crowding at the encounter scene. She should tell them to hoist atop their house roofs the tricolor to convey the message to Pakistan that Kashmiris are for democracy, secularism, egalitarianism and peace. She should understand the long range good coming out of this bold narrative and desist from moving in the other direction, which she very well knows will take Kashmir to the abyss of disaster.

(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies of Kashmir University, Srinagar. Feedback- [email protected])

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