Kashmir: the flash point
Kashmir issue has become Damocles sword hanging on the heads of nearly 1.35 thousand million people of the subcontinent. Any dangerous event like that of hijacking of an Indian airliner in December 1999 can bring the two countries to the brink of a destructive atomic war. And if that happens, the people of the entire subcontinent will go a century backward. Apart from that, the future generations will have to bear the brunt of this catastrophe for many centuries to come. The people of the entire subcontinent will be afflicted with poverty, ignorance, hunger and disease. The cause of all this destruction will be the Kashmir issue.
On both sides, precious resources are diverted to stockpiling of arms and preparations for war machine. An ugly turn that this issue is likely to take is that of wrecking the communal harmony and the sentiment of peaceful coexistence of different religious entities in the subcontinent. If religious sentiments of the people of the subcontinent in general and in India in particular, are aroused, and the people are set to cut one another’s throat, the results will be only horrible. The world will write us off as human beings. We will be called semi-brutes and beasts and nothing less.
We must know it clearly that if we fight a war on the basis of religion against Indians in or outside Kashmir, then evidently we are doing nothing short of issuing a death warrant against 200 million Muslims of India. We will be playing with the lives, honour, dignity and future of these Muslims. The Kashmir’s must make an assessment of the happenings of last ten years. Our achievement during this period is nothing but death and destruction, mutilated bodies and decimated habitats, increasing number of widows and orphans, razing of school buildings to the ground and wrecking of institutions of public utility. Bombs and guns have rent our social structure as under.
In order to restore the dignity of Kashmiri nation, honour and respect of our mothers and daughters, and to restart our lives with a futuristic vision, we need peace and order enabling us to move ahead on the path of progress. We need to enter the new millennium along with other communities and societies. We need to get rid of bomb blasts, gun culture, destructive philosophy and negative approach. Intellectuals in both the countries and also those in Kashmir shall have to ponder over this situation in all seriousness. The question is did the people of India and Pakistan gain anything by prolonged animosity for last half a century? Do human problems get resolved by blasting bombs, firing guns and shedding innocent blood? A destructive war has ravaged a beautiful country like Afghanistan, and turned it into a heap of rubble. Nuclear bombs, too, have not been able to resolve the differences between the two countries. All that they could achieve through nuclearisation was to keep the pot of dissension simmering. The Kashmir’s, too, shall have to come out of a syndrome of sentimentalism and realize that without ideological and intellectual guidance it will be impossible to arrive at the destination. How long are we going to let our generations grope in darkness? We must ask ourselves a simple question: whether by just raising pro-communal slogans and shedding the blood of some innocent people in the name of religion, has any religion been eradicated from the surface of the earth lock, stock and barrelo? In Europe, many wars were fought. But ultimately they realized that there was no escape from peaceful coexistence among people of various faiths.
We the Kashmir’s have to take a decision whether we have to remain silent spectators of the ongoing fighting and thus, in the eyes of our future generations, become responsible for their destruction? What happened in Afghanistan? In the name of religion and sect, the Afghans turned their homeland into ruins. Should we expect that those with no qualms of conscience for turning their homeland into ruins will bring us freedom or have the ability of resolving our human problems? Support to this type of thinking will result only in the kind of bomb blasts that happened in Batmaloo in the first week of January 2000. In this bomb blast, along with some security force personnel, no less than 17 Kashmir’s were also killed. Imagine the condition of those parents whose dear ones were torn into pieces by this bomb blast. What will be the condition of the parents when they come to collect the severed limbs of the victims of blast. Therefore if we choose to become silent spectators today, then we are criminals in the eyes of our future generations.
No option but peace
Restoration of peace is of utmost importance in the subcontinent. A solution is needed that would satisfy all the three parties and ensure their honorable and secure life. Staking my thirty-year political career, I would like to make some proposals for bringing immediate peace and relief to the human beings in this strife torn land. I for one is prepared to sacrifice my life for the protection and welfare of the people of the subcontinent and of Kashmir in particular, in order to liberate them from slavery and oppression. I opt for resolution of the issue through peaceful negotiations. I have already been struggling against innumerable odds and have been suffering many humiliations and accusations besides the privation of thirty years of life in exile but reiterating at every stage and every point of time the inevitability of resolving the dispute through peaceful negotiations.
I make a fervent appeal to the intellectuals of India and Pakistan that they should muster courage, as I do, and react on the suggestions stated below after giving them due thought. It is their moral duty to impress upon the people holding authority in both the countries to turn away from confrontational postures and address themselves to the Herculean problems of poverty, disease, ignorance, backwardness and economic deprivation afflicting the hundreds of millions of people in the subcontinent.
Proposal for Indo-Pak detente
1. Both India and Pakistan should formally declare their acceptance of freezing the Kashmir dispute for next 20 years beginning with the millennium.
2. Both the countries should send back their regulars and paramilitaries to the barracks in parts of Jammu and Kashmir under their respective control.
3. All armed and unarmed foreign nationals should leave Kashmir forthwith. In order to realize this objective, both the countries should evolve a joint mechanism.
4. Adequate and viable steps be taken to stop extremist religious groups on both sides from indulging in campaigns of communal hatred against one another.
5. People in both the countries should be provided with a very liberal and easy system of obtaining visa for visiting their relatives, friends and kith and kin on both sides.
6. Both India and Pakistan should re-start bilateral dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues. Once Kashmir dispute is frozen, it should not be difficult for them to come to some understanding on the resolution of other issues.
7. India and Pakistan should open bilateral trade as early as possible. It should be supported by exchange of cultural delegations. The two approaches will undoubtedly help overcome the climate of suspicion and hatred that has been prevailing for a long time.
8. Both countries should immediately stop carrying out all antagonistic propaganda against each other.
9. Both the countries should stop supporting terrorist activities on their soil. Additionally, they should take stringent measures to curb the activities of such organizations as are known to be promoting terrorism and violence.
10. Both sides should constitute high power committees comprising political and economic experts and renowned intellectuals who will work towards changing the 53-years long mindset of hatred and animosity on both sides and create an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence.
Towards resolution of Kashmir dispute
1. Both India and Pakistan should agree to give maximum quantum of autonomy for twenty years in the first instance to the people in Jammu and Kashmir under their respective control. Only defence, currency, foreign and communication should remain with the two states and all the remaining powers should be delegated to the people in Kashmir. Gilgat and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir should be brought under the ambit of one constituting assembly.
2. All political prisoners in Indian jails should be set free. Both the governments should provide information to the relatives of the people whose whereabouts are not known. People implicated in acts of terrorism and murder, should be brought to the book.
3. A system of liberal and easy issuance of permits be evolved by both India and Pakistan enabling the people on either side of the line of control to cross over and meet their relatives and friends.
4. People who have been driven out of their homes on either side of the control line in the wake of the events and partition of 1947 should be resettled at their places of origin in the State. In particular, people of various faiths like Pandits, Sikhs and Muslims, forced out of their homes during past ten years of turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir, should be brought back to their respective places, rehabilitated and illegal occupation of their lands and properties be immediately vacated. The Muslims of the valley, particularly those in the towns, should form local committees who will visit their Pandit neighbors in Jammu camps and entreat them to return to their places of origin promising them the safety of their life and honour. This is a religious and moral duty.
5. Kashmir’s should be given the right of expressing their wishes freely under the guiding principle of non-violence.
6. Kashmir’s on both sides should be provided with full support to reconstruct their shattered economy and developmental programs. They should also be supported to rebuild modern educational institutions.
7. A high power commission comprising intellectuals, politicians, economists, technocrats and social experts from India, Pakistan and Kashmir be constituted. Its term of reference would be to prepare the people of all the three regions, psychologically and practically for a permanent solution of Kashmir tangle by inviting viable proposals. The Commission would be entrusted with the mandate of finding a peaceful and lasting solution to Kashmir problem. Endorsement of any permanent solution by the Indian and Pakistani parliaments and the Legislative Assemblies of the two parts of the State of Jammu and Kashmir would be an important condition.
1. In the wake of freezing Kashmir issue, a situation of armed confrontation between India and Pakistan would come to an end. The apprehension of accidental war will recede. All armed activities linked to Kashmir dispute will come to an end, which, in turn, would eschew the accusation and counter accusation syndrome between India and Pakistan.
2. In the absence of looming cloud of Kashmir issue, India and Pakistan will be facilitated to resolve their other pending bilateral issues. Easy visa system will help people travel across the line of control without fear and with all freedom. This would gradually minimize and fully remove the atmosphere of mutual suspicion and hatred prevailing for a long time.
3. Entering into trade relations for a period of twenty years would develop a climate of commercial brotherhood. This leads to developing of common interests in each other’s welfare and stability. At no cost should such carefully constructed relations be allowed to break.
4. People in the entire region will be relieved of the hanging sword of a destructive war. By diverting huge funds from building military machine to developmental plans, hundreds of millions of people will be delivered from hunger, disease, ignorance and unemployment.
5. Pakistan will get an opportunity of reconstructing her economy and repaying foreign debts to the tune of 52 billion dollars. India stands to gain by saving the huge military expenditures of Kashmir operation.
6. Kashmir does also stand to gain by agreeing a twenty-year freeze on Kashmir issue. The present state of undeclared war and its disastrous consequences in all walks of life must come to an end. Otherwise it is going to fragment the Kashmiri society and rent its social fabric asunder.
7. In the event of a disastrous war between India and Pakistan, the onus of total destruction of the subcontinent will be brought to the doorsteps of Kashmir’s only. It is bound to inflict severe damage to her profile and everything else. We have been impatiently waiting for freedom of Kashmir not for only 53 years but actually for nearly four centuries in the past. Another twenty-year wait would not be asking too much particularly when such a wait is expected to bring convincing results in train. Allowing the situation to drift the way it is going, undoubtedly means that Kashmir is heading towards fragmentation and ultimate destruction.
8. Those who will be most seriously affected by the ongoing state of things in Kashmir will be none but the Kashmir’s. If after giving sacrifices of 40 to 50 thousand precious lives over a period of ten years no Islamic country came to the rescue of Kashmir’s nor did it hurt the rest of the world, what then is the purpose of continuing a disastrous struggle?
Kashmir’s have to ponder over this question and decide.
I hope all elements seriously and sincerely interested in calling a halt to the catastrophic situation in Kashmir, will consider these proposals seriously and without sentiment, and make their input in their implementation. This will be a historic service to the cause of promotion of human rights and of preserving and protecting peace in the region. Let us join hands in this noble task. I would like to tell the people of Kashmir once again that I was the first Kashmiri active nationalist who hijacked an Indian airliner way back in 1971. As a youthful Kashmiri, I was also infused with the burning spirit of freedom of my motherland. But that incident opened my eyes and taught me a lesson, which I would have never otherwise learnt. It made me shun violence once for all, and take the path of non-violence for realizing any goal. It made me a humanist and a human rights activist. We shall not achieve anything by taking up arms for a fratricidal war and engineering the destruction of our motherland. Let us turn away from the path of violence and seek peace, security and prosperity of our oppressed people.
JK DEMOCRATIC LIBRATION PARTY