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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Blunders on Kashmir: How India Lost the Plot in Kashmir


Legally Kashmir acceded to India when the ruler of Kashmir Maharajah Hari Singh signed the option to accede to India in 1947. Unfortunately misplaced zeal by the then Indian prime minister Jwaharlal Nehru saw India refer the case to the UNO. The matter came up before the security council which passed a resolution calling for a cease fire in the valley and another resolution for a plebiscite in the Kashmir state to ascertain the wishes of the people.  In one stroke India lost 1/3rd of Kashmir to Pakistan after the cease fire. This was at a time when the Pak army and tribal soldiers were retreating.
Matters were further clouded by the Indian leader and Congress party when Nehru in 2 significant public speeches ,one of which was in Srinagar accepted that he would hold a plebiscite in Kashmir to ascertain the wishes of the people. He also promised Kashmir a " Special Status". For this he got the Indian parliament to amend the constitution and incorporate Article 370 in the constitution. This article had some significant provisions
a) Kashmir would have its own constitution and any law passed by Indian parliament would not apply to Kashmir until it was passed by the Kashmir assembly.
b) Kashmir would be insulated from the rest of the country and no Indian  citizen could buy land or settle in Kashmir.
c) The state would have its own flag.
This was passed in the teeth of opposition of the Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who unfortunately at the critical moment suffered a heart attack.
The situation was stabilised to a great extent by the Russians who sided with India. On almost two dozen cases when the Security Council wanted to enforce a plebiscite, the Russian as permanent members of the Security Council used their power of Veto to bail out India.
From 1989 onwards the situation has changed. The Kashmir state is witness to ethnic cleansing and the Hindus were attacked and forced to flee the Valley which soon became  100% Muslim. the Indian government sat and watched teh exodus of hIndus from the valley and did precious little to stop the carnage. In addition an armed insurrection commenced , headed by organizations based in Pakistan like the Jaish-e- Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen and the Kashmir liberation front.
The Indian government in its misplaced zeal also gave legitimacy to a group of politicians who favored joining Pakistan called the Hurriet. This group of pro Pak politicians was also given security cover and looked after by the Indian government. This is cited by by many nations as acceptance by India that Kashmir issue is not solved..
The geopolitical situation has also changed and all the 65 Muslim countries have sided with Pakistan  Russia that used its veto so many times earlier, may not use it again and now  we also have the factor of China which has recognised POK as part of Pakistan and is busy proposing a $46 billion corridor through the POK and stretching to Karachi.
The Indian government is thus hemmed in and I am told that the USA also will not forsake Pakistan and is pressing India to discuss kashmir. The Indian PM Indira Gandhi committed a monumental blunder by incorporating a clause in the Simla agreement( (1972) that India would discuss the Kashmir issue with Pakistan. If Kashmir is a part of India , then what are we discussing?
The situation is fraught with great risk. India has also not built up its military might to be able to act alone.  A Professor from Nehru University has asked a pertinent question, what happens if the Security Council passes a resolution to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir ? what will India do without military muscle?  These are dangerous thoughts and India must once again befriend Russia in this geopolitical game. The USA will never forsake Pakistan and an example is that India is completely cut off from the  peace initiative in Afghanistan . The future requires a great statesman and one wonders whether Modi has that mettle. There is also a need to immediately integrate Kashmir with India and get ready to face the world with a fait accompli. But I don't think it will happen.