Kashmir Dispute: Need For A New Approach

Kashmir Dispute: Need For A New Approach

11 August 2011
Greater Kashmir
Hashim Qureshi

Srinagar: One more round of Indo-Pak foreign ministerial meet took place in July last. Indian media was swayed by the youthful and charming Hina Rabbani Khar. No immediate and positive results emerged from the meeting but the two countries agreed to widen the scope of CBMs as well as expand cross-LoC trade besides extending the date of visa. The only positive outcome of this round of talks was that both the countries agreed in a joint announcement to continue the process of dialogue. India did try to create bitterness in the Indian media on Hina Khar agreeing to meet with such Kashmir leaders as uphold the manifesto of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. Nevertheless, India did not carry the complaint further. Evidently had not India liked it, these Kashmiri leaders would not have been able to meet with Hina. House arrest orders are something too frequent for Gilani Sahib and Shabbir Shah. People are making a joke of it now by saying that even for ablution Gilani Sahib will have to put up an application to lift the order of his house arrest. Therefore India’s acceptance of a meeting between Hina Khar and Kashmir separatists was a foregone conclusion. Knowledgeable circles believe that Hina Khar implored both the factions of Hurriyat not to disrupt Indo-Pak dialogue and no violence allowed in the State. She added that Kashmiri leadership could not be included in the talks for the time being. Pakistan’s internal situation is uncertain. Pakistan-US relations are on the downslide. Subsequent to Osama bin Laden’s killing, US leadership exerted pressure on Pakistan. The US did not accept Pakistan’s stand that her Army and intelligence establishment were uninformed about Osama. The US has withheld about 800 million dollars of aid to Pakistan Army. Further to it, pressure is being brought on Pakistan in regard to her nuclear arsenal. Under this pressure, Pakistanis arrested a Brigadier for allegedly supporting the militants. Pakistan’s internal situation is chaotic. Broad day murders and loot and arson have become order of the day in Karachi that has taken a toll of over 2000 people so far. In a telephonic message, Altaf Husssain of MQM asked Indians “if they can show the large heartedness of accepting five crore Mohajirs?” Fierce armed struggle is raging in Baluchistan against Pakistan; Balch nationalist leaders are not prepared to settle for anything less than the separation of Baluchistan from Pakistan. Baluchistan is a very sensitive province of Pakistan where Chinese engineering companies are working at the seaport of Gawadar. American forces have obtained Air Force bases in Baluchistan; they are also using Gawadar seaport. According to reliable sources arms and ammunition is also imported into Baluchistan from Afghanistan. Pakistan’s economic condition is in shambles. Her relations with China are under strain as Pakistani religious extremist groups and militant organizations are not only strengthening militancy in China’s Eastern Turkistan but are also sending their cadres physically into that region, and Beijing has sent clear warnings to Pakistan. No investment is being made in Pakistan by the US, European and other countries. This puts a big question mark on the survival of Pakistan. In these circumstances South Asian countries and especially India could become a huge market for Pakistan. This is the reason why Pakistani rulers are more than willing to improve relations with India. One visible change is that Pakistan continues to issue its usual statements regarding Kashmir and India also gives statements of talking to Pakistan with regard to Kashmir. In this background the Hurriyat people are not only obliged to listen to what Pakistan says, but also their existence is rendered fragile without support from Pakistan. On the ground, we find that the NC-Congress coalition government has left no stone unturned to vitiate the atmosphere as they did in 2010. A girl student Quratu’l-Ain of Sopore was arrested on the allegation of supporting the militants. People came out in large numbers to protest against the arrest. Two army personnel were alleged to have raped a girl in Kulgam and that led to mob demonstrations. Custodial killing of Nazim Rashid took place in Sopore police station. These were the repeat of 2010 episodes. Involving the youth in stone throwing, picking them up and arresting political prisoners under PSA, failing to release prisoners despite court orders, all have contributed to the worsening of law and order situation. In the context of Kulgam rape and Sopore custodial death the Chief Minister issued a statement that enquiry into the two cases would be carried out not in months or weeks but in days. It did not happen. The government has a set policy in certain issues. Wherever it wants to gain time, the incident is handed over to a commission of enquiry. It is to befool the public. Rule of law, democratic dispensation and justice remain buried in the State. Every issue is linked up with separatism, be it illegal arrest or defiance of court order, issuance of passport or protest against land grabbing. People protesting against failure of electricity or water supply or any other issue of day to day life, the government deals them with one measuring rod, the rod is of “anti-nationalism and separatism”. Those in power forget that there is a limit to people’s tolerance of oppression. Any incident can disrupt law and order just because in regard to politics and economy Kashmir is like a volcano. Instead of providing facilities to people, the local bureaucracy and ruling circles are busy in looting our natural resources. A state rich in water resource fails to provide drinking water to its people. Only the other day, people in Kupwara blocked the roads and demanded supply of drinking water. This is true of entire Kashmir. We would exhort the rulers of Kashmir to give people their democratic rights. They should have the right to demonstrate and give vent to their feelings otherwise they may again take up the gun. As for Kashmir issue, for the time being this issue is not on Indo-Pak dialogue agenda. But that would not stop either of the two from expressing intermittently on their respective stands on the issue. At present cross-LoC trade will receive boost, people coming and going across the LoC will be allowed to stay back longer and passport-visa facilities will be extended. The two countries have not been able to forge an atmosphere to be considered conducive for resolution of Kashmir issue. The pre-requisite is to demolish the walls of hatred between the peoples. As such a process of improving relations between the two countries in a limited way and along Track II diplomacy will continue for some time. Centre for Policy Analysis is an organization comprising some neutral members of the Parliament and civil society. It organized a public meeting on 30 July 2011 in the auditorium of S.P. Higher Secondary School, Srinagar. A group of Hurriyat members raised slogans in the meeting and obstructed the speakers to put forth their views. The members of the organization had called the meeting to discuss the problems of Kashmir. It is discouraging that neither political parties nor the Hurriyat factions have any concrete and positive programme for attaining the freedom of Kashmir and resolving its problems. They are doing the politics of slogan-mongering, and of showing each other down. Disunity and egoism are the hallmark of their behaviour. And the entire nation is forced to reap its dire consequences. Sources relate that when both the factions were on the same flight to Delhi they did not even exchange minimum greetings or salaam. They met with the Pakistani foreign minister separately. The descendents of the martyrs and the people of Kashmir are forced to think that if various organizations and groups of people claiming to bring freedom to Kashmir and espousing the cause of accession to Pakistan are not able to come together, how can they ever reach their destination? In the context of arrest of Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, and the allegations brought against him, it should not be forgotten that for last twenty years, he has been running an office under the name of Kashmir American Council in the heart of Washington. American government had even the minutest information about the activities of this organization. Fai did not only meet with American Congressmen and Senators but also invited the American think-tanks to his seminars. Additionally, a delegation of Kashmir American Council under the leadership of Dr. Fair paid a visit to previous First Lady and present US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and “gifted to her a Kashmiri pashmina shawl”. Accepting the gift, she had said that a “similar shawl had been gifted to her by the President of India”. “Now I will give this shawl to my daughter Chelsea,” she remarked. Another American Congressman, Dan Burton, a rabid India basher and a beneficiary of Dr. Fai, was also “gifted a Kashmir Silken carpet. He had desired that the image of Congress House be woven into the carpet which the KAC fulfilled”. That carpet was valued at more than 25 thousand US dollars. As Pakistan differed with matters pertaining to CIA’s operations in Pakistan in the aftermath of Reymond Davis episode, therefore, in a tit for tat reaction, CIA arrested Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai and brought allegations against him that he had been working for ISI. It is important to note that Dr. Fai never hid his ideology and views. He has been supporting Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir issue and he worked in the US for the same purpose. I do have ideological differences with Dr. Fai. But despite that we have been keeping our friendly relations intact for last thirty years. He is a perfect gentleman and had been visiting me in Pakistan and in Netherlands. The point I want to draw home to our politicians is that be it the US, Europe or any one among the Muslim countries, their policy is always and invariably oriented to national interests. American friendship or hostility is based on the policy of national interests. At the same time, I must make the observation that phenomenons of sustained strikes, stone throwing scenario and violent confrontation that have become the current history of Kashmir have exhausted the people. The apprehension is that if this situation goes on the people are likely to lose interest in the freedom struggle and all the labour and sacrifices made by the nation come to naught. The movement at present is like a rudderless ship tossing on tumultuous waters. Dialogue, the effective means of finding a solution is possible only in an atmosphere of peace and neutrality. And dialogue has to be given a chance. (Hashim Qureshi is Chairman of JK Democratic Liberation Party. Visit him on his blog hashimqureshi-jkdlp.blogspot.com)


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