The world has stood aghast at the nuclear flashpoint but has not interceded for the Kashmiris because of India’s clout and superior exterior maneuver. President Obama had promised to help resolve the Kashmir issue in his election campaign but after occupying the office of Presidency, suffered a memory lapse over the sensitive subject owing to US overtures to India.
By S. M. Hali
The Kashmir conundrum continues to haunt the people of the region as well as the world since it is a flashpoint between nuclear weapons equipped Pakistan and India. The predicament is a legacy of the British rule in India and an unfinished agenda of the partition of the Indian Sub-continent in 1947. India illegally occupied the valley of Kashmir, negating the Independence Act of 1947. Pakistan and India went to war in 1947-48, which allowed Pakistan to liberate some territory but India approached the UN and secured a ceasefire. After deliberations the UN passed Resolutions 37, 39, 47 and 51, which dictated that a UN sponsored plebiscite would be held in Kashmir permitting the people to decide their own fate. India agreed to abide by the UN Resolutions but later reneged, resulting in the 1965 and 1971 Pak-India wars and a number of skirmishes but the Kashmiris’ fate did not change. In 1989, the Kashmiris decided to take matters in their own hands and arose in an armed revolt, which was crushed by India militarily. Over 700,000 soldiers were deployed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), who over the past 23 years have martyred over 100,000 Kashmiris, raped their women and torched their homes, shops and orchards while thousands of Kashmiri youth are still suffering incarceration. What is worse is that India has tried to misrepresent the just freedom struggle as insurgency.
The world has stood aghast at the nuclear flashpoint but has not interceded for the Kashmiris because of India’s clout and superior exterior maneuver. President Obama had promised to help resolve the Kashmir issue in his election campaign but after occupying the office of Presidency, suffered a memory lapse over the sensitive subject owing to US overtures to India. So much so that during his visit to India in 2010, he was presented with a request signed by 4500 prominent Kashmiri leaders, US and British Parliamentarians urging India to resolve the Kashmir issue; however their appeal fell on deaf ears. To add salt to the wound, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a staunch and ardent supporter of the Kashmiri cause, and an American citizen of Kashmiri origin, from IOK, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the behest of India on July 19, 2011. He has been charged with accepting funds from Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, which is a pathetic lie and attempt to silence an innocent promoter of the Kashmiri cause in the US.
Pakistan has been providing diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris, which is not based on emotional ties alone but also derives strength from cold logic. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with prescience, had called Kashmir the “jugular vein of Pakistan”. Since most of the rivers of Pakistan, especially those running through the breadbasket of Punjab originate from Kashmir, it was imperative that Pakistan acquire control of the strife-torn Valley. Soon India started dictating terms on Pakistan’s waters till Pakistan managed to sign the Indus Water Treaty with India in 1960 under the aegis of the World Bank. Resultantly, Pakistan retained the use of waters in Jhelum, Chenab and Indus but relinquished Sutlej, Beas and Ravi to India. Being a lower riparian, Pakistan is at a disadvantage, with India building illegal dams and reservoirs on the western rivers. It is a point of caution that while Pakistan is pressing for a solution of the Kashmir conundrum, it must be mindful of the geographical and demographic realities. In case the Kashmir issue is resolved on a division of the territory on the basis of the majority of the population, as was the case for the creation of Pakistan, the origins of the three western rivers, currently in Pakistani control must be taken into consideration. Indus originates in Tibet, passing through Ladakh, which has a Buddhist majority and will not vote for accession to Pakistan. Chenab originates from the Himachal Pradesh and flows through Jammu, where Hindus constitute 65% of the population; hence accession to Pakistan is not viable. That leaves only Jhelum, which rises from a spring at Verinag situated at the foot of the Pir Panjal in the south-eastern part of the valley of Kashmir, which does have a Muslim majority. Pakistan cannot afford to lose control of its western rivers too as the Indus water treaty will have to be revised and India may get decisions in its favour. Thus the solution of the Kashmir imbroglio has numerous pitfalls which must be avoided and prudent steps need to be taken to safeguard Pakistan’s interests.