Kashmir, which has been in the vortex of world news and international politics ever since India’s partition in 1947, has again fallen on bad days with large scale violence and unrest gripping the valley since the killing of Pak-led dreaded terrorist Burhan Wani by the security forces on 8 July.
The situation today is reminiscent of the chaos of the 1990’s that had led to an en mass exodus of the Kashmiri Hindus from their native home. However this time around, with hardly any Hindus left in the valley, the repercussion could be far worse. The inveterate Pakistan backed by rapacious China can fan the fires of secession and separatism far and wide within the country. The recent Assam explosion is a case in point.
Hence, going by the treatment meted out to home minister Rajnath Singh during his recent Islamabad visit, it would be both foolish and futile to expect peace and friendship from Pakistan whose very genesis and continued existence is based on hostility towards India. Guided by its Jihadi agenda, the Pakistani establishment would continue to train its guns against “infidel” India. Please remember that Pakistan is a declaredly Islamic state and therefore under no obligation to observe any agreement entered into or commitment made with a non-Muslim/secular state for it does not believe in “sovereign equality of all nations”. (Source: Brigdier S.K. Malik: The Quanic Concept of War; Preface; Lahore, 1986.)
It is also time to explode the myth of “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat” that has become an oft repeated empty rhetoric. Here, it is worthwhile to recall the RAW report on Gen. Zia’s address to the meeting of select military commanders and top bosses of the ISI in April 1988 outlining Pakistani plan for Kashmir code named “Op Topac” in which he said: “Let there be no mistake, however, that our aim remains quite clear and firm and that is the liberation of the Kashmir valley—our Muslim brothers can not be allowed to stay with India for any length of time. In the past, we had opted for ham-handed military options and therefore, failed. So, we will now keep our military option for the last moment as a coup de grace, if and when necessary. Our Kashmiri brethren in the valley though with us in their hearts and minds, are simple-minded folks and do not easily take to the type of warfare to which, say, a Punjabi or an Afghan takes so naturally, against foreign dominion.
“The Kashmiris, however, have a few qualities which we can exploit. First, his shrewdness and intelligence; second, his power to persevere under pressure; and the third, if I may say so, he is a master of political intrigue. If we provide him means through which he can best utilize these qualities, he will deliver the goods.
“Here we must adopt those methods of combat which the Kashmiri mind can grasp and cope with. In other words, a coordinated use of moral and physical means, other than military operations, which will destroy the will of the enemy, damage his political capacity and expose him to the world as an oppressor. This aim, gentleman, shall be achieved thus:
(a) We must ensure that certain ‘favoured politicians’ from the ruling elite be selected to subvert all effective organs of the state. (b). It should be followed by a low level insurgency against the regime, so that it is under siege, but does not collapse as we would not yet want central rule imposed by Delhi. (c). We whip up anti-India feelings amongst the students and peasants, preferably on some religious issues, so that we can enlist their active support for rioting and anti-government demonstrations.”
Commenting on this report, Prof. Bal Raj Madhok had written way back in 1992 that the developing national and international situation demands that Indian leaders and policy makers adopt a nationalistic and realistic approach to their problems instead of looking for alibis or posing as idealists. “They must understand that the problem of Kashmir is basically religio-political and not socio-economic. A wrong diagnosis leads to the application of wrong remedies, resulting in further worsening of the situation”.
Discussing the Kashmir problem, Prof, Madhok wrote: “Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was a conscious decision by its ruler who placed wider human interests of his people above his personal interests in a moment of crisis. The Indian leadership accepted the accession but felt shy of basing its claim on the fact of accession. Although, in practice, it treated Kashmir as part of India but committed many blunders with regard to it in the early formative period. The most dangerous of them was succumbing to the pressure of Sheikh Abdullah for a special status for Kashmir and incorporation of Article 370 in the Indian Constitution.
“Article 370 was in fact the pound of flesh that Sheikh Abdullah extracted from obliging Pt. Nehru as a price for his support to Kashmir’s inclusion in India in the case of a plebiscite which was looming large in the air at the time. Pt. Nehru directed him to meet Law Minister and Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, for incorporating a suitable article in the Constitution of India which may enable Kashmir to have a separate constitution, separate law of citizenship and enjoy a special autonomous status. Dr. Ambedkar himself told the authour (Prof. Madhok) that he flatly refused to accept Abdullah’s plea. Dr. Ambedkar told Abdullah that as Law Minister of India he could not give a status to Jammu and Kashmir which would make it a ‘republic within a republic’ in which India and Indians will have only responsibilities and no rights”.
However, this proposal was accepted by the Constituent Assembly only after Pt. Nehru gave a specific assurance on behalf of the government that it was “purely a temporary provision” to tide over the exigency created by the UN resolution. That is why it is put in the chapter which includes Temporary and Transitional provisions of the Indian Constitution, he added.
Over the years, this temporary article has become the biggest obstacle in the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir State with the rest of India as the failure to revoke it has made the Kashmiri Muslims to believe that Kashmir does not belong to India and that its future is yet to be settled. This feeling is being exploited to the full by Pakistan that does not want India to focus on the demand to liberate the Pakistan occupied Kashmir which is an entirely non-Kashmiri speaking region under its illegal occupation. In Gilgit, a dialect different from Kashmiri is spoken and Baltistan is Balti speaking while Mirpur-Muzzafarabad is an entirely Punjabi speaking area. This area has an historical legacy as it falls on the ancient silk road.
What is worse, the separatists and secessionists have somehow succeeded in equating the Kashmir valley with the entire Jammu and Kashmir state. Surrounded by high mountains from all sides, the Kashmir valley where only Kashmiri is spoken, nowhere touches Pakistan. Rather, it is sandwiched between Punjabi-speaking Uri-Titwal area and the so called Azad Kashmir, the Pak occupied territory of the state. Hence, the on-going Hafiz Saeed and Asiya Andraabi inspired unrest in the Kashmir valley, must be seen in its correct perspective, and must be dealt firmly and deftly.
Prof. Madhok wrote in 1987 some Kashmiris are openly for Pakistan, some want an independent Islamic state of Kashmir and some want to toy with the idea of using Kashmir valley with its special status as a springboard for Islamisation for the rest of India as was articulated by Maulana Suharawardy of the National Conference in a speech on the floor of the Legislative Council sometime in 1985-86. Total Islamisation of the valley first by driving out the small Hindu minority fits with this plan. (Source: Jammu, Kashmir and Laddakh; Delhi, 1987).
The solution of the Kashmir problem rests not with Srinagar but New Delhi. “The first step towards the solution of the protracted Kashmir problem is the abrogation of Article 370”, wrote Prof. Madhok. “To treat this article as a permanent feature of the Constitution and oppose its abrogation has no justification whatsoever. In fact, there is no need to amend the Constitution because the procedure to make this Article inoperative has been laid down in sub-clause (3) of this Article itself. It reads, “notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Article the President can, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify.
“Along with the abrogation of Article 370, steps should be taken to reorganize the state so as to give separate statehood to Kashmir and Jammu region and Union Territory status to Ladakh. Punjabi speaking Uri-Titwal area lying between Kashmir valley and Pak occupied territory of the state should be separated from Kashmir and made a centrally administered security belt. This area lies outside the Kashmir valley. There is little in common between the people of Kashmir and the people of this belt. The simple folks of this belt resent Kashmiri domination over them. This area can be a kind of a buffer between Kashmir and the POK.
“These steps would go a long way in satisfying political aspirations of the people of all the three distinct regions of the state namely, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh besides safeguarding the distinct identity of the Kashmir valley and checkmating Pak designs on it”, Prof. Madhok wrote. (Source: Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World; Houston, 1992).
Thus, what is required is a strong political will to resolve the Kashmir problem once and for all. With a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the present government can definitely convince the President of India for abrogating the temporary Article 370. All Indians, irrespective of their party affiliations, consider Kashmir to be part of India and would rise up to the occasion.