Can There Be a Kashmir Solution?
A Problem that Defy's solution
Kashmir was a quasi-independent state under the British Raj. The maharajah had limited powers, but the Raj did not interfere with his day to day administration. This state of affairs continued till 1947 when the Raj a euphemism for British rule lapsed on the midnight of 15 August 1947. The maharajah decided that he would like to be independent. This was a grandiose dream and ignored the reality that the state had to decide between India and Pakistan. Maharajah Hari Singh assumed he would succeed and so he signed a " standstill" agreement with both Pakistan and India. The Maharajah in this agreement requested more time to decide the issue.
However, things moved at a fast pace and the new leader of Pakistan ordered an invasion of the Kashmir state. The Pakistan army aided by tribal of the Frontier region invaded Kashmir. They had swift success and the maharajah and his army were defeated. the troops reached Srinagar the capital and that is when the Maharajah panicked and acceded to India. He signed the Instrument of accession and agreed to be a part of the Indian union,
Kashmir and India after the Accession
Once the Indian army intervened in Kashmir the raiders were pushed back and soon the valley was free of the tribal horde. At this critical juncture Nehru for reasons that now appear silly( he was influenced by the wife of Lord Mountbatten) approached the UNO and security council and this, in turn, led to a cease-fire and the unfortunate part is that Gilgi t and parts of Western Kashmir remained part of Pakistan. Pakistan thus gained over 40% of Kashmir for a song and the folly of Nehru. Besides, Nehru agreed for 2 further conditions that are difficult to explain. He agreed
for a 'Special Status' for Kashmir by amending the Indian constitution and incorporating Article 370. This gave Kashmir a special status and allowed the state to have its constitution and flag. Besides article 45 was adopted that forbade Indians to buy land and settle in Kashmir.
b. Nehru promised to hold a plebiscite in the valley to ascertain the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
The last promise was never effected as the chances of voting for integration with Pakistan were bright and the Indian leadership could not accept it.
Pakistan sponsored Terrorism in Kashmir
In 1987 after 3 wars and the resultant defeat of the Pakistan army and its failure to annex Kashmir by force, general Zia ul Haq formulated a plan to try and win Kashmir for Pak by terror activities. Zia died in 1989, assassinated by his opponents, but the policy of sending terrorists into the valley was adopted. The entire state now became a battleground as the so-called mujahideen went about their task in earnest. Their religious appeal also had an effect and many local youths joined this terror activity.
The Indian army has to date killed hundreds of these Mujahideen, but Pakistan is hell-bent on creating unrest in the state. Also, a small but vocal section of the political leadership has been calling for a movement to join Pakistan. The movement headed by Geelani has little grassroots support, but the AK 47 and the Mujahaddin do the trick and one can say the gun rules in the valley.
The state is now on a burner. The fact is that this movement of the pro-Pak parties can be crushed in no time. How many know that these separatists leaders are given protection by the Indian army. They are also looked after by the government of Kashmir with subsidy and money. One fails to understand this dichotomy and no one in the Indian government has been able to explain this.
This soft approach of the government is both misguided and presents a soft face to the enemy. The result is that the Indian case on Kashmir is greatly weakened. I am afraid until this soft approach is discarded and a bullet for bullet policy adopted Kashmir's problem will remain and have disastrous consequences for the Indian state in the years to come.
The wheel has turned full circle now after the victory of the BJP under Narendra Modi in 2019 with a big majority. The decks were cleared for implementing the policies outlined in the manifesto of the party on Kashmir.The government brought in a bill to abrogate Article 370.
The motion was passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament. This resolution took the Congress party by surprise and it began an agitation against the abrogation of article 370. They forgot that at the time of the incorporation of this Article in the constitution, it was clearly stated that this Article is a temporary phenomenon and would be removed soon. Unfortunately, Congress thought of the Muslims as a vote bank and this article lingers on for 72 years resulting in complete alienation of the Kashmiri population from the motherland.
Now that Kashmir has been integrated with the country, a "fait accompli" has been presented to the Congress party and its supporters. Internationally Pakistan has been nonplussed and the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate union territories further weakened the Pakistan case.
Narendra Modi has done the unthinkable and after 72 years a problem created by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has been solved. One will now have to wait and see how the Indian government under Modi faces up to the diplomatic challenge launched by Pakistan and its fair-weather ally China against India.