Kashmir May Never Become A Part Of Pakistan…

Kashmir May Never Become A Part Of Pakistan…

5 February 2014
Express Tribune
Salman Zafar

Karachi: Kashmir has always been a hotbed of political discussions as far as our foreign policy goes. Even though the issue has lost a lot of its steam off late, it is something that remains etched in the mind of every Pakistani, every time India is mentioned. We celebrate Kashmir Day today, as the cold hard truth stares at us – it has been over 60 years and the Kashmir issue shows no signs of being settled. The area is claimed by both Pakistan and India because of its obvious strategic importance. There is no point in going into details of what caused the Kashmir conflict. It is a story built into our curriculum via the pro-Pakistan narrative fed to us by our historians, the same way a pro-India narrative on the issue has been built in India. If the Pakistani narrative is to be believed, Kashmir wants nothing more than becoming a part of Pakistan. Every Kashmiri is filled with perpetual love for Pakistan and hatred for India that knows no bounds. The Indian narrative will be the exact opposite of this. But while we are busy clamouring over how Kashmir wants to be a part of our country, we have lost all sight of how, at least from a Pakistani perspective, making Kashmir a part of our country is becoming a distant dream with every passing decade. This is down to a lot of reasons but a lot of them are down to the repeated intrusion of our military into the disputed area of Kashmir. The first of this was in 1947, our year of independence from colonial rule, when fearing that the Maharaja of Kashmir might accede to India, we sent in our forces to deal with the matter only to witness what we had feared – the maharaja had chosen India, under apparently dubious circumstances. Then in 1965,where our history books have fed us stories of how our chivalrous military ‘won’ the war of 1965, what they conveniently ignored was how the war was triggered by the now infamous Operation Gibraltar, a strategy devised by the Pakistan Army to infiltrate Jammu and Kashmir. Move on to 1999 and our military infiltrated into Kashmir again in the shape of the Kargil War, this time as a retaliation of when India seized Siachin in 1984. Our troops had moved 10 kilometres inside the line of control, occupying a staggering 140 posts. Three wars fought over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Three instances where Pakistan was the aggressor and the international community sided with India. What we need to contemplate is the humiliation that our regular military intrusions in Kashmir have caused us. Not only has the international community repeatedly sided with India, her much more effective diplomatic influence has more or less ensured that the Kashmir issue remains docked increasingly in favour of India for the foreseeable future. No one is looking away from Kashmir’s strategic importance. But having said that, one must also not be blind to the cold truth. All powerful slogans incorporating Kashmir’s importance to Pakistan need to be put aside and the issue needs to be dealt with rationally. We need to accept that our footing on the Kashmir issue is weak, which is why after every few years we come up with military solutions to the matter, making the ice beneath our feet thinner than before. Taking a hard line on matters where you are in a weaker position doesn’t make matters better for you, but only display your weakness and lack of options. The fallout of the Kashmir issue also needs to be evaluated. The whole matter ensures that India is treated as a permanent enemy and the largest chunk of our budget is allocated to the military, significantly robbing other sectors of the country from much needed attention. Any attempt made towards developing peaceful relations with India is thwarted by military adventurism in the region which brings the shocking civil-military imbalance of our country to the limelight. The solution to Kashmir lies in the simple mode of establishing peaceful relations with India and becoming diplomatically strong, something that will take a very long time. All the pro-Kashmir chest pounding in Pakistan needs to be stopped for the foreseeable future. We are in no position to assert our claim on the area because of our weak diplomatic position on the global arena. Even when we call Kashmir our long lost brother, what never crosses our minds is the simple equation – would the average Kashmiri want to be a part of an economically vibrant, diverse and secular India or Pakistan as it is now? Better yet, would the average Kashmiri even want to be a part of any of these two countries or become independent?