Thursday, August 6, 2009

IT'S THE "INDEPENDENT KASHMIR" GUN TO INDIA'S HEAD NOW

"Give up Kashmir or face increasing terror". This is the sum of the blunt message that Pakistan has now delivered to Indian leaders who have been trying to cover up the Sharm-el- Sheikh surrender by telling Indians that they had scored a victory because there was no mention of Kashmir in the joint statement that was put out by Dr Manmohan Singh and Pakistan PM Yousaf Raza Gilani.

This time, however, there is a significant twist to what Pakistan has been saying till now. Musharraf's sophisticated and dangerous three-point Deal that visualised the LoC becoming irrelvant, maximum autonomy being given to the whole state, and a joint mechanism consisting of Kashmiris, Indians and Pakistanis being set up to oversee all aspects of the agreement, has been overtly jettisoned by the present leadership. It is a foregone conclusion that this could not have been done without being approved by Army Chief Pervez Kiyani.

The successful ambush at Sharm-el-Sheikh has clearly emboldened Pakistan to take a few additional steps in quick time to start calling for an "independent" Kashmir already.

It is widely known that the Pakistani side of Kashmir does not have the equivalent of Article 370 of India's constitution. As a result, over the last 62 years, the demography of that part of Kashmir has been completely altered by settlers from Pakistan. So, in effect, the independence that Pakistan is calling for is of the Kashmir, including Jammu and Ladakh, that is with India.

If you see this in conjunction with the loads of Pakistani statements over the years that Kashmir runs in the blood of Pakistanis, Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of India's partition on a communal basis, terrorist outfits like the LeT have sprung up to force India to give Kashmir to Pakistan etc, there cannot be even an iota of doubt that what this independence mantra is about. It is certainly not to make the whole of Kashmir, including the Northern Regions that Pakistan unilaterally severed from Kashmir and amalgamated into Pakistan in 1970 as a separate administrative unit, independent of Pakistan at all.

General Musharraf nearly trapped India into ceding some control of its Kashmir to Pakistan, in the back channel discussions that he had with the Vajpayee and Manmohan governments. He was intelligent enough to understand that India would never hand over Kashmir on a platter to Pakistan unless it was militarily defeated. Having realised after his costly misadventure in Kargil that it was Pakistan that would face defeat again, he completely overhauled his strategy. But, when a nation has brainwashed its citizens for six decades into believing that Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir and that India has to be thrown out of there completely, it is not easy to suddenly sell to them a sophisticated way of getting the job done gradually in a manner that will eventually leave India with no choice but to walk away. For that, suitable preparation and time are required, which Musharraf did not have.

That is probably why after the victory at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Pakistan is now upping the ante on Kashmir by calling for its independence, a call that is designed to resonate with Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley. It will, therefore, not be surprising if there is a fresh round of agitation for "azadi" by the marginalised Hurriyat Conference and other separatist elements, coupled with stepped up violence through terror attacks, to draw the attention of the world and, at the same time, create more pressure on a what appears to be a weak and confused Indian government that is so desperate for "peace" that it is blind to the cost that India is paying and will have to pay to get only an illusion of it.

Real peace, let us be honest enough to admit, will only reign when Pakistan knows without a doubt that the violence that it has used as a coercive tool till now for free, is going to cost it heavily in future. Let us not be under any illusion that peace and calm will prevail if a trusting India hands over Kashmir to Pakistan in a manner that satisfies the latter completely. There will then be peace in Kashmir, no doubt, helped by massive migration of Punjabis and others to the Valley. But the barrels of the AK47s that the terrorists are being trained to hold and use with intense hatred against a secular India will not get embellished with flowers; they will get pointed with even greater intensity towards the rest of India. And there will be many more Mumbai 26/11s, with more and more demands for and on behalf of Indian Muslims.

Talk India must, though, but without any expectation of a fruitful result. If a much smaller and weaker Pakistan can bully Indian leaders by saying that peace is not possible till Kashmir is given to Pakistan, what prevents India from saying that no meaningful talks are possible till Pakistan destroys its terror infrastructure totally and peace prevails? What prevents India from treating armed infiltration into Kashmir as a violation of the LoC and from reacting suitably across it so that Pakistan is compelled to put a stop to it? Who should be scared about an Indian reaction across the LoC turning into a full fledged war? Why should India be really worried about a nuke attack if, in the event of a war, it decides to limit its objective to the destruction of Pakistan's military machine rather than the capture of such vital territory or cities as will make Pakistan press the nuke button?

I am not suggesting that India should go to war. I am only trying to drive home the point that Pakistan must not be allowed to continue to hold the gun to India's head and fool India's leaders by faking friendship and/or sincerity indefinitely. A durable peace in the region is possible only when Pakistan puts away that gun. India's leaders should first work towards achieving that objective. Once the gun is removed and the bullets in it taken out, a lot will quickly fall into place on its own.

Till that happens, peace will remain a mirage and more Indian blood will flow needlessly.
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Readers may also like to read:
1. India to Pak: you keep shooting, we'll keep talking
2. Musharraf's shockers on terror, Kashmir and Indian Muslims
3. India, learn how to get Pakistan to walk