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Kashmir – where are you heading?

January 28, 2009

Do Kashmiris want to be part of Pakistan? Do Kashmiris hate the idea of India? Do Kashmiris want an independent state of Kashmir, to be free of both Pakistan and India? All of us have asked ourselves these questions, particularly so after the recent state election in Kashmir.

At one time Kashmir was certainly another country, but that was hundreds of years ago, until the Mughals (1586), followed by the Afghans, the Sikhs and then the British took control. In fact at one time Kashmir was a Buddhist learning centre, but Islam took root in the 14th century, starting with the conversion in 1323 of Rincana, the first king of a new dynasty from Ladakh. There were ups and downs but mostly the Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists lived peacefully together.

By the time the British left in 1947, Kashmir and India had been one for hundreds of years. However, the burning question in 1947, at the time of partition of India was: Who does Kashmir belong to? India or Pakistan?

Wars were fought between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, but what was worse was the tragedy of Kashmiri people…the rise of insurgency, the destruction of their  economy, the invasion by foreign terrorists who escalated violence and drove the Kashmiri Hindus out (mass killings of Kashmiri Hindus), the suppression of the voice of the Kashmiri people by the central government and crimes the Army committed in its zeal to fight terrorism. So the recent elections in Kashmir where for the first time 61% of ordinary Kashmiris participated was  something to exult about. This was a bigger turnout that even what the rest of India usually sees!

But analysts have warned people not to read too much into this as they feel that the desire for freedom is still intact in Kashmiri hearts. The separatists feel the same way. They feel that high turnout at the elections was not a “setback for the region’s dwindling cohort of violent separatist militants and their alleged backers inside Pakistan’s spy agency.” People are doing it solely for water, electricity and employment, not because they are agreeing to be a part of India, say the separatists.

Maybe the Kashmiri people want electricity and water from India and not India itself. But it also means that the separatists knew well in advance the mood of the people. Why else would they bring down the level of violence in the Valley? Kashmir has seen a reduction of violence, and in the past year it is said to be the lowest in 17 years! And The United Jehad Council (forum of 14 Kashmiri separatist groups) had said that no guns would be used to keep people indoors during the elections. The Kashmiris have had enough of violence. They have had enough of being forced not to vote. Many of these groups did denounce the elections however, and had given a call to boycott them, but the Kashmiri people did not heed these calls.

They have not voted just for water and electricity though. They have voted for peace. The ballot over the bullet. This is most significant. Even if they want some kind of autonomy or want to be separate from India, they certainly don’t want to do it the violent way. The terrorists have led them down a garden path littered with bodies. Let’s hope that the separatists keep in tune with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Whether Kashmiris want India or Pakistan or whether they want an independent country is something that we will never know for sure, because according to the UN resolution self determination can only happen in Kashmir if Pakistan vacates the part of Kashmir they took by force. We all know that Pakistan will never vacate the Kashmir they grabbed from India.

However, it is now believed that the Kashmiri freedom struggle has become more nationalistic in nature, a movement that does not see Kashmir as a part of India or Pakistan. Their disenchanment with Pakistan could well be because of the violence that country has exported into Kashmir and also because they probably know that  they will never get the kind of cultural freedom they want in Pakistan due to the extremism there. Also, Kashmiris happen to be Shias, while the majority of Pakistanis are Sunnis. There is a Shia-Sunni divide in Pakistan. There is the instability and economic turmoil in Pakistan which could not be inviting for Kashmiris.

However, the Kashmir disenchantment with India lies deep. It lies in their hatred of the security forces and past injustices by the central government. They also see themselves as culturally different from India.

In this context it is interesting to read what Basharat Peer (a Kashmiri journalist and writer who used to work in India but now lives in New York) says:

…the Kashmiri Muslims were never orthodox, and they lived under the influence of such Sufi saints as Nuruddin Rishi, the valley’s patron. The initial movement for independence, led by JKLF, began as a struggle for an independent, secular Kashmir, neither part of India nor Pakistan. It was also partly a class struggle; the majority of its members came from the lower middle and peasant classes. It was the struggle of a people who had over the years felt alienated from mainstream India, neglected and taken for granted… the problem really began after the Indian government brutally sought to crush the independence movement, when it was taken over by fundamentalists.”

In his new book “Curfewed Night” he explains it all, his resentment against the separatists and against the Indian government and says that an independent Kashmir is what is needed and what many want.

But the truth is that if Kashmir leaves India to form an independent country, Pakistan or China will swallow it up.  In any case this is a theoretical scenario as India will never let go as letting go of Kashmir negates the very idea of India – a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, pluralistic and multi-religious entity. As far as India is concerned, if Kashmir is let go, there is no reason to hang on to any part of India. The country might as well be broken up into little pieces.

Why don’t Kashmiris love the idea of India? The idea of a  multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, pluralistic society? Why should they want to start a country based on a single culture?

And if Kashmiris want to go because they are a majority Muslim state, if they  want to carve out an Islamic state for themselves, they should first see the kind of freedom that people in Islamic states have. Kashmiris are simply not cut out for this. Their kind of Islam is different and a very tolerant one. Do they believe they can become a religious state (the state has been purged of the Hindus to a large extent by the terrorists) and not be taken over by zealots?

But more important, does a country founded on the basis of a similar culture, ethnicity, and religion, succeed? Is it possible for a successful democracy to be founded on such narrow values? Can it ever be a free and developed? I think it is like going backwards in time, when little kingdoms were founded on this basis. Pluralistic societies may have problems but they can be solved and we are seeing this change in the United States.

(Photo sourced from topnews.com)

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78 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2009 9:50 am

    hmmm… read about kashmir in detail after a ong time. I don’t think my knowledge on the subject is enough to comment properly. But thanks for sharing the info. :)

    Welcome. – Nita.

  2. January 28, 2009 10:32 am

    peace and curbing of seperatist sentiments cannot be achieved unless u bring in economic development….
    empty mind is a devil’s workshop.. give people something to do.. give them employment and u will see lasting peace…
    it worked in punjab.. and there is no reason why it won’t work in kashmir too

    Economic development will happen now…now that the people have voted for peace. – Nita.

  3. January 28, 2009 10:41 am

    Do you have some telepathy power?? hmm,i was half-way writing this..I was wondering what will happen if we make Kashmir Azad..Chances are that Assam and like states too will make a demand..What of we let them go too..What if we let all those who want seperate?? To my understanding,none of these states have self-sustaining capacity.so like Pakistan,they all will end up being a chaoistic nation-politically,financially and in all aspects and like Pakistan,they will start pestering us and make us more unstable..So let them all remian as part of India-for our sake..

    Nita,to my reading and understanding,i guess they don’t like India,bcoz of Army’s aristocracies..

    This post has been in my draft folder since the Kashmir elections. I guess I postponed it for a long while too. And ofcourse, the army has done some bad things there, but the majority haven’t. They gave their life for this country, fighting foreign mercenaries. – Nita

  4. January 28, 2009 10:49 am

    Who cares :-)

    I have had it with them. They can do whatever they want.

    I guess you don’t mean that! Because who knows soon the two Punjabs might want to merge! :) Now don’t tell me you are okay with that! :) – Nita.

  5. January 28, 2009 11:02 am

    This was on well-analysed post. Have you read Basharat Peer’s book yourself?

    Thanks Poonam, and I desperately want to read this book! Am planning to. – Nita.

  6. January 28, 2009 11:17 am

    I do wonder,if not for the militants ,both internal and external terrorism,where will our country be?

    Of course,all those places in Kashmir are part of every history book ,especially during the medieval and ancient phase.Infact,it seems to have run wider from today’s to the bhamian Buddha’s. The fact remains,that they were one of the most peaceful and educated people in the country.In fact,one thing I find interesting are the things associated with it.Stories of saints,rulers etc.

    Lets hope that the people do get peace.I want to visit the place oneday. I think this who thing about Hindus and Muslims is going crazy.The brits did it to “divide and rule” and well like the education system it is doing harm.

    Yes Kashmir was a very peaceful place at one time. The foreign militants took full advantage of this, fooling people into believing that they will get indpendence this way. Backed by Pakistan. Thankfully the people have rejected them and voted in peaceful people. – Nita.

  7. KSRao permalink
    January 28, 2009 11:35 am

    A General recalls
    KASHMIR: LET US MAKE IT A PARADISE

    Moghul Emperor Jahangir called Kashmir a paradise. As children reading History and Geography, one could only imagine how Kashmir would look like and dream of seeing the place. I have been singularly fortunate, when the first regiment I joined as a 2ndLieutenant after attending the young officers’ course at College of Military Engineering at Pune moved from Bangalore to Jammu & Kashmir in Oct 1968. We detrained from the special train after a ten day journey at Pathankot and established a camp at Dansal in Nov 1968… In Mar69, we moved to Srinagar. I was eagerly looking forward for the journey. Immediately on reaching Srinagar we moved to Mohura which is enroute to Uri to build a semi permanent bridge over River Jhelum. The bridge still stands and I showed to my children many years later when I was Chief Engineer Beacon of Border Roads Organisation. After completion of the bridge, my field company (a sub unit of the Regiment) rejoined the Regiment at Srinagar. DATA bases were nonexistent then. New guidelines had just been issued on how to collect data about roads and prepare road data cards. For the young officers, who were assigned this task, it was a God sent opportunity to all over the valley collecting data of majority of the roads in the valley. It was great, a dream fulfilled. I still remember , when I got down from my vehicle and started doing some map reading and taking bearings with my compass when some locals walked up to me and inquired whether I was planning to make a road. In case I was, then I should construct it on the alignment that was indicated to me by them. I told them that at that point of time there was no plan to construct new roads by the Army at that location. Kargil.This Bridge is also standing and lies on the Kargil – Skardu Axis. It was of great importance both during 1971 Operations as well as during Kargil Operations. The road to Leh via Zojila was opened by Jun 69 and it was thrilling to drive over the road, especially over Zojila Pass with high ice walls of over ten meters on either side. One straight away starts admiring the personnel of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) who clear the frozen snow at high altitudes with winds blowing at high velocity.
    I was again posted to a regiment, after my degree course at CMEPune, which was to move to Ladakh in 1974. We moved by special trains up to Pathankot and Chakkibank and then by road over six days to Leh via Srinagar, Zojila and Kargil. In winter we had tried to keep open then Passes Changla and Khardungla but it was an impossible task, with hardly any equipment. After Christmas, the snow was unprecedented and by New Year the Passes had closed and we used to walk across. In this tenure I had seen most of Ladakh.
    My third tenure in J&K was at Samba near Jammu, where I was posted as a Brigade Major during 1983-84 before proceeding on my Voyage on Trishna. The Brigade was responsible to oversee the entire border and I had an opportunity to travel extensively from Madhopur to Jammu and Akhnoor, part on foot too.
    While attending the Higher Command Course, one physically sees most of the border areas of the country. We moved from Jammu to Poonch by road and one could see the Hajipir Pass from a post at Poonch. As Director in Military Operations Directorate at Army HQ, one of my charter of responsibilities was roads. I had studied the road net work and was also responsible to finalise Army’s annual road development plan to be executed by Border Roads Organisation. I had visited the Kashmir Valley when floods cut off the National Highway near Awantipur in Aug 1996. However it was as Chief Engineer Project Beacon of BRO, after having attended the NDC Course that I moved extensively on the roads in J&K with the sole aim of improving them. I can proudly say that except for the first one week after my arrival at Srinagar in Jan 2000, The National Highway NH1A was never closed for more than one day at a time during my tenure and even during my successors’ tenure. I travelled on NH1A from Srinagar to Jammu and back at least once a month if not more. The Jawahar Tunnel was in a terrible condition (Former Chief Minister Farook Abdullah knows the condition it was in). We had renovated it and he had inaugurated it in Dec2000. Travelling on the old Banihal alignment was interesting. So was our drive over Razdan Pass to Gurez Valley, over Sadhana Pass to Tangdhar, over Tut Mar Gali (TMG) to Kaiyan Bowl, Kishtwar via Doda. We had also constructed a bridge over Sansari Nullah, that connects Himachal with J&K, via Dul, Gulabgarh and Galhar. One must drive on these roads to appreciate the effort put in by BRO personnel and also see the smiles on the faces of the locals who are connected. Driving on Galahar-Sansari Road, one sees such beautiful rock faces that one dreams of etching Bumiyan Budhas there or even that of Bapu.
    As DGBR I had the opportunity to drive on most of the roads under the charge of BRO. Communication is the key to growth. While mobile communication is revolutionising our life style, physical communication has not been able to keep pace and is dragging growth. Today’s technology enables us to build better roads in a far lesser time frame and more economically. Satellites help us in selecting appropriate alignments even in the most rugged and difficult mountainous terrain. Every time I drove on a road, invariably the locals would try and meet me and narrate their problems concerning road communication. I could do whatever was possible within my capability to help them. Having also seen the difference that a road connection can make in Afghanistan (the first black top highway in Nimroz Province in Afghanistan was constructed by BRO) and in Bhutan (Bhutan had hardly any roads when Late Pandit Nehru accompanied by Late Mrs Indira Gandhi visited on pony back during late 50s), I am convinced that if we as a Nation concentrate on development of road net work as Priority One, other aspects of development and growth will follow on their own.
    Coming back to Kashmir, the Kashmir issue has been with us for over 60 years. During the last couple of months, for many of us who served in that region and are following the events, it has been extremely painful. The most sufferers have been the people of J&K irrespective of religion, caste and creed. As an Indian living in any part of India, what would be one’s reaction, if after coming out of your house and taking a walk on the street, some unknown policeman asks you for your identity and not one day but every day and for years! Many a times a security check is carried out to see the thela that you are carrying. Will you ask for Azaadi as the people in the valley are shouting?
    If we want Kashmir to be a Paradise, we Indians have to contribute-display “Gandhigiri”.
    A large number of articles and books have been written by intellectuals and others during the last six dacades after deep study at various points of time after having applied their minds. We have also identified the problem at the grassroots level. Our former Army Chief Gen Padmanabhan, who knows the issue well also, raised the question-to care about-let us address them. Development is the key to security as well…Kashmir has not developed because, though large amount of funds have been spent, like Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi had said only a few paise ultimately reach the destination at the ground level, it is true all over India and more true in Kashmir. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened. We need to address corruption- make development funds and their utilisation totally transparent. This is the start point. Then let us set a dead line of Dec2014 i.e. before next elections in J&K. What we need to do.
    • Build the required roads-let J&K have the highest road density in the country, both in terms of road length per 100 SQ KM of area as well as km per lakh population, the best quality by 2014. If funds are a problem, we are a Nation of over billion people and let each one of us contribute a minimum of one rupee per year and we will have in our kitty Rs one Billion every year for six years. Let each one of us volunteer- even if we work for ten days a year- a million volunteers a year i.e. ten million man days per year, sixty million man days effort over a period of six years will help us develop the desired road net work in J&K including Ladakh.
    • Kashmiris are sports and fun loving people. One has to see the people playing on the Idgah ground in Srinagar or elsewhere on public grounds. Cricket on Idgah ground has connected people of Kashmir in their ‘Azadi Call’. Let us develop good sports facilities in J&K and give adequate opportunity to them to use the facilities available in the country.
    • J&K has abundance of hydel potential. Let us fully develop the same. Run of the river hydel projects should not be restricted under the Indus Water Treaty.
    • Kashmir is the Paradise –every Indian would like to visit. Imagine, over a billion people wanting to visit-if one visits once in 50 years i.e. 20 million visitors per year. Imagine the infrastructure growth required and also the impact on the economy.
    • Kashmir is the Paradise- except some parts during peak winter, it has excellent weather- most conducive to learning- let us establish a college in every valley- there are numerous valleys like, Gurez,Tangdhar, Kishtwar, ,Bhadarwah,Rajouri,Poonch, Uri Yusmarg,Tangmarg, Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Partapur just to name a few.. In case all these are connected-internet, mobile plus roads, sky is the limit for the rate of growth. J&K will become the knowledge centre of the world.
    • For some unfortunate Kashmiris, Kashmir had been hell. Ask Pundits! Those who suffered especially children (many orphans), let us look after them. Every State of India must contribute-establish a residential school (navodaya) in a salubrious environment in every district and give opportunity to them to do their schooling. These children will be exposed to what India is all about- it is in our culture to bring u the unfortunate-let us display the same.

    I am confident that all Indians will get to visit the Paradise at least once in their life time.

    Lt Gen K S Rao retired as the Director General of Border Roads Organisation. He has travelled extensively all over the world. A product of Rashtriya Indian Military College, DehraDun which he joined in 1959, and the General officer had worn uniform for nearly 49 years and served the nation with pride.

  8. January 28, 2009 11:59 am

    It’s a simple story ..

    Hindus in Jammu want to stay with India while muslims (which are ofcourse in majority) dont want to saty with India(not a surprise !!) .. They want either free state or want to go with Pakistan ..

    As per UN’s suggestion while Nehruji was our PM, we should go for people’s referendum on ths issue but we vehemently denied that coz we knew that majority of them will vote to stay with Pakistan and we could hv lost Kashmir .. But now I guess this issue has become like a stuck ‘haddi’ .. U cant take it out nor u can swallow it ..

    I dont see any solution to this problem unless we take hard actions against pakistan and other foreign militants but I guess we cannot do that as it’s not our cup of tea.. we r no israel .. we r more concerened about the vote bank of India ,killings of innocent people and our economy even though thousands of our army jawans are killed every year without a war in Kashmir ..

    Yes Soham, my heart grieves for all those soldiers who died in the line of duty. Unfortunately a small percentage of them have spoilt the name of the security forces. Also please remember that the UN resolution mandated that Pakistan vacate Kashmir. They didn’t and so the resolution could not be implemented. This is a very important point. Also Kashmir came with India legally. This may or may not have been right, then. In 1947. – Nita.

  9. Nimmy permalink
    January 28, 2009 12:19 pm

    “Hindus in Jammu want to stay with India while muslims (which are ofcourse in majority) dont want to saty with India(not a surprise !!) .. They want either free state or want to go with Pakistan ..

    Sorry to say,but the statement shouts out prejudice and some sort of uneasy feeling

    “we r no israel ”

    lol.Go read history..Isreal now is illegally occupying land outside their territory ,those boundaries as laid in 1948..I doubt India will go and ocupy Pakistan’s or china’s or Tibet’s land illegally and then kill all people in that place calling them terrorists..

    “but we vehemently denied that coz we knew that majority of them will vote to stay with Pakistan and we could hv lost Kashmir .. ”

    Oh well,keep holding the land in the name of fake prestige issues,and make life-both theirs and ours-hell..

    Sorry to say,but this statement shouts out prejudice ..

    Hypocritical indian cry babies should take care of Kashmiri Pundits first and then cry about Kashmir.Lip service will do no good ..

    p.s:This is not a personal reply,i am commenting on the idea and not the person..

    Nimmy, I am afraid Kashmiri Pundits do not want to go with Pakistan and nor do most of them want a “azadi.” This is a fact. There is no way anyone can deny this. And Indian Muslims (non-Kashmiri Muslims) also do not want Kashmir to go for obvious reasons. Also, I do not believe that India is “holding on” to Kashmir as such because 60 years have passed. That was the truth then, not now. Pakistan needs to see Kashmir in the context of 2008, not 1947. Violence in the Valley has decreased and that is because foreign militants have reduced the violence. – Nita.

  10. Naveen permalink
    January 28, 2009 12:29 pm

    I have 3 very important points to make.

    1) First, each of the Indian states have a strong characteristic identity and culture for themselves but are still part of the Union. Kashmiris might have slowly been integrated into the union, if not for the out-of-job pakistani mujahids, who moved from their western border to the Kashmiri border in the 80s. I am somehow uncomfortable to put any blame on the Indian Army, who are trained to kill, expected to combat and sent to the frozen borders to restore peace. They leave their families for months so we could live in our warm houses with our families. At the least, we could stop judging them for what we don’t know for sure.
    2) Secondly, when people say Kashmir is ruled by India. I disagree because I think Kashmiris are equally Indians. But for the point of discussion, I think it is the contrary – India was ruled by Kashmiris for over 35 years out of the 61 years that we were independent. No Indian state had the privilege. And we had an emergency imposed on us by one of the Kashmiri.
    3) Thirdly, I have not lost hope. We could bring Punjab back into India and have a Sikh prime-minister now. I only wish to see Omar Abdullah rise to that stature in a decade. I am sure he’d make a better prime-minister than any 80 year-old with cardiac problems, stuttered speech or a disjointed knee.

    Naveen, as you said as long as Pakistan keeps interfering Kashmiris can never be integrated into mainstream India. We have made far more progress with some northeastern states like Assam. About the Army, look, excesses happen during all insurgencies. During all wars. There are many reasons for that and it is not easy for the leadership to keep things in control. It is the duty of our govt. to control it and I think they have tried. And my feelings for Omar are the same as yours! :) I hope he becomes Prime Minister one day, when he is ready. Let’s hope it’s not when he is 80! :) – Nita.

  11. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 28, 2009 12:31 pm

    @Nita:

    I am basically in the same boat as Sakhi, but would venture a bit further with my comments than she has.

    Thanks for a balanced and objective (at least for an Indian) post. You have been bold enough to admit to the possibility of three options, and not taken sides.

    What I find surprising is the total absence of mention, both in your write-up and in the comments so far, of the Plebiscite under UN supervision (Security Council Resolution No. 47 of 1948), its outcome, and the about turn that followed. I would have expected at least Gen. K S Rao to comment on it, but he leaps straight from Emperor Jahangir to 1968-69.

    I would still like to have an impartial insight into that, and would be grateful if anyone can direct me to appropriate source material (preferably on the internet).

    As for “separatism”, it is easy to condemn it so self-righteously when one is part of the mainstream majority and deriving all the benefits due to that fact. In a world in which the concepts of nation-state, sovereignty etc. are being increasingly debated, it is time to do some serious soul-searching on what exactly it is that we are conedemning, and why.

    Oh, but I have definitely mentioned it in my write-up. Its a very important thing. More later, as I have to rush! – Nita.

  12. January 28, 2009 12:37 pm

    The current situation is extremely convoluted.

    What you say is true only for the Valley. Jammu and Ladakh are not part of this separatist movement.

    The entire state was Muslim majority under a Hindu King. Maharaja Hari Singh was not inclined to join either India or Pakistan. It was Nehru’s desire to get his home state as part of India. The king resisted all Indian efforts.

    It was only when Pakistan invaded J&K that Maharaja Hari Singh acceded (or forced to accede) to India. The Indian Army had already started to drive away the invaders and would have completed the job had it not been for a short-sighted move by Nehru to refer the matter to the UNO and therein lies a tale that has cost us so heavily.

    The next has been the special status under Article 370 which has prevented the emotional, social and commercial integration with India. If you remember, Hyderabad and Goa were merged after military action. But their integration into India has been much simpler and smoother.

    We have then added to this by supporting the Abdullah family, rigging elections, turning a blind eye to corruption and ignoring the genuine aspirations of the people.

    What you have today are hardened positions and very high stakes in every sense. Moderate stands have long been abandoned.

    You say “Their kind of Islam is different and a very tolerant one.” This may have been true many decades back. I am not sure now. Anything that is anti-India is a rallying point and religion definitely has become one.

    There is no single event or cause for this problem to be so aggravated. This is a result of a series of mistakes that have now piled up so high that one cannot make any sense out of this.

    There is no easy solution. It may take years of investment in social infrastructure, education, healthcare and conscious cultural integration to reduce the severity of the problem and yet not be sure of the Kashmiri mind.

    Now – What about Jammu and Ladakh? There is no anti-India sentiment there but we have seen how years of neglect has aroused wild tempers.

    We in India need to re-invent our approach to inclusive development.

    Thanks Mavin for your analysis. I guess I cannot really disagree with anything, but I just want to cast doubt about the kind of Islam in the valley. I believe the extremists have not touched the basic moderate attitude of most people. Maybe I am wrong. – Nita.

  13. January 28, 2009 1:00 pm

    Very objective post, Nita. I love these detailed, thought-out posts of yours.

    Regarding Kashmir, well all I can say is history has been unfair to India. And we must NEVER accede to their demands. Peace is a different matter altogether. Some people believe that Kashmir’s independence will improve peace and the peace process. Thumbs down. Things will worsen.

    Trailblazer, thanks. India will never bow down to their wish. It would be the most self-destructive for India. – Nita.

  14. January 28, 2009 1:20 pm

    I have lived in the valley when it was peaceful. Kashmir separatist movement didn’t start till 1988. I had written a post about it couple of weeks back. A different view.

    I am not supporting Army’s atrocities but what can the Army do when some people hide terrorists by force or choice? The army men there die everyday and it doesn’t even get reported. A major section of the people are plain brainwashed. They aren’t going to gain anything from the so-called azaadi. Every state for that matter deserves a separate identity simply because every state has a unique culture.

    I am just hoping that this phase shall pass too like the Khalsa movement.

    Solilo, thanks. Just one point. During any security force operation there are excesess. This has something to do with the psychology of the soldiers who are often under great stress and tension and who are away from home. We should never support excesses because means do not justify the ends. Every civilzed nation has to punish soldiers who commit excesses and in fact the Indian army has punished some. Maybe one day I will write a post on this. – Nita.

  15. January 28, 2009 1:21 pm

    Forgot to add. Love your detailed analysis, Nita.

  16. January 28, 2009 1:27 pm

    @Nimmy:

    I welcome ur comments ..

    Well, after reading my comment once again, I felt that i did sound prejudice .. I should not hv written or generalized that .. But I said that for the muslims of Kashmir valley only who always cry out for Azadi or even flag pakistan’s flag in their region .. My commnet is not meant for Indian muslims whom I love as my fellow citizens ..

    I think u r absolutely right in saying that the indian gov ust first take care of kashmir pundits and then should think something about resolving the J&K issue ..

  17. January 28, 2009 1:31 pm

    Koi Jeeve Koi Mare, Suthara Ghol Patashe Peeve. Loosely may someone live or die, I dissolve sugar candy and drink. Basically they are just a mess and there is not much that can be done about such a mess. As for two Punjab’s merging, the two Punjab’s are a recent phenomenon. There was no such thing before.

  18. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 28, 2009 1:32 pm

    @ Nita:

    Sorry, I missed that short reference. However, as far as my understanding goes, the condition proposed by the UN (not part of Resolution 47) was that both sides respect the cease-fire line as established at the cessation of hostilities in the First Indo-Pak War (1947-48] on 31 December 1948. It was much later, in 1950, that India took the position requiring Pakistan to withdraw from the occupied territory.

    No, this was part of the UN Resolution. You can briefly read about it here. The fact was that Pakistan took the territory which India had legally, and therefore Pakistan had to vacate it before self-determination could happen, according to the UN. However Pakistan and its PR mechanism has consistently swept this under the carpet, so much so that even Indians don’t know this. –
    Here is another link, one which gives you the exact wording, it is the actual UN mandate and I am now adding this link to my main post.
    Nita.

  19. openlight permalink
    January 28, 2009 2:18 pm

    Good analysis but went absurd at some point, I have summarized my points as well –

    1. Army is not involved in atrocities when it is sacrificing yearly to protect the very Kashmiri people of terrorists, if they hide in house / mosques what else can army do.

    2. Mistakes of Nehru had brought us to this ‘hung’ situation where we are not having access to our own territory (POK).

    3. Political leaders are responsible for the mess created by terrorists (whether local kashmiri or foreigners) as they looked the other way when kashmiri pandits where raped,looted,massacred.

    4. Till date low political will (PDP and NC) has not the courage to take on extremists for their acts. The United Jehad Council is full of such persons.

    5. Kashmir should be seen in its context and not to be mixed with Jammu and Ladakh.

    6. Jammu and Ladakh have mixed more to Indian state than Kashmir, and are not getting their due even though they do not follow the ‘Azad Kashmir’ ideology.

    7. Persistent efforts of Jammu and Ladakh to have independent governing council has not been met.

    8. Kashmir has the lowest poverty rate, they do not pay taxes, Kashmir sucks Indian blood and money but still even the leaders will play to the tune of extremists.

    9. Kashmir as an independent state can not be thought and will not survive.

    10. Solution to the problem is to clear the rot in Kashmir’s bureaucracy and extremists.

    11. Punjab came out of extremism when terrorists and their well wishers where cleared up irrespective of political clout they had. Similar operation is required to clear the mess as still kashmir has 1000+ active extremists (http://news.indiamart.com/news-analysis/mukherjee-s-islamaba-18953.html).

    12. Further, punjab and kashmir problem are different in context as punjab was not involved in any freedom after inception and just because of rise of extremism (also supported by politicians, ineffective action by administration and police) led to crises like situation. Further punjab didn’t had any ‘third’ player in the picture which kashmir has.

  20. January 28, 2009 2:51 pm

    @Nita
    What are your reasons for calling foreign terrorists as militants? do you think both words are one and the same?. You seem to give much emphasis to history written in separatist website of JKLF. By the way, J&K means not just people of kashmir.

    @Vivek Khadpekar
    In Aug 13, 1948 resolution it was accepted that pakistan will withdraw it’s troops and tribesmen and there after India will reduce it’s troops presence to conduct plebiscite under UN. Both India and pakistan agreed to this resolution but later pakistan backtracked and insisted on maintaining some level of troops in the region. Hence India could not conduct UN resolution as it’s precondition was not met. There after numerous UN resolutions were passed suggesting level of troop presence and other issues but not agreed by both countries at the same time. Indian complaint to UN was filed under chapter 6, which means either party can reject resolution passed, without worrying about punitive action by UN. Most importantly, pakistan’s geographical boundaries & demographics of POK has changed since original complaint was filed and also as per UN rules, any issue that is not considered over a period of 5 yrs can be removed from the UN agenda. Anyways, I think UN resolution has no significance, specially after shimla agreement.

    @soham
    If religion is alone determination factor, then pakistan would have allowed plebiscite without fear of losing it and bangladeshis would not had risen against their brethren. Pakistan was afraid that muslims of J&K would vote against it due to atrocities committed by tribesman, which were fresh then in peoples minds. hence they hindered implementation of resolution.

    Shuuro, no I do not think they are the same. I didn’t realise my mistake and now that you have pointed it out, I shall make the correction. You are right ofcourse, they are terrorists. I don’t know how I could have written that they were militants! I guess reading so much about it, I started to use that word which the writers had used. – Nita.

  21. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    January 28, 2009 5:09 pm

    Nita, Shuuro:

    Thanks for those links and for casting more light. Unfortunately the issue is riddled with so many dark nooks and crannies that the light is not adequate to penetrate all of them.

    The resolution that I referred to — no. 47 of 1948 — is dated 21 April of that year. The official UN site on which it is listed — http://www.un.org/documents/sc/res/1948/scres48.htm — makes no mention of the resolution to which your link leads. In fact it does not list any resolution dated 13 August 1948, on any of the major — namely India-Pakistan (i.e. Kashmir), Indonesia and Palestine — or even minor questions (e.g. Czechoslovakia, Hyderabad, Trieste)] questions that engaged the Security Council’s attention during that period. The next UN resolution on Kashmir after 21 April (and the last one on that question for 1948] was No. 51, dated 3 June. (For a complete list and contents of the questions discussed and the resolutions passed in 1948, please see http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/047/76/IMG/NR004776.pdf?OpenElement).

    It would be interesting to know the source of the resolution cited at http://www.jammu-kashmir.com, to which your link leads (it vaguely mentions “United Nations”), and also who maintains that site, their motivations etc.

    Vivek, I know I am right in this case as I have known about this for years. I have also discussed this issue with people in the know. I have also read about in umpteen articles, written by well known people in magazines and newspapers. This subject is close to my heart and has been for years as you know my family’s army background. I have also lived in Kashmir, and I mean lived for months. We have Kashmiri family friends as well.
    In fact, I am a little confused as to why you are confused. Believe me, the UN resolution required pakistan to withdraw its troops. I am a hundred percent sure of that. I was so sure that I did not even think anyone would question me and at first did not leave a link! In fact I have no idea why it is not on the UN site, but I am sure you can write to them and find out. In any case even if you doubt it, and if you feel I have not authenticated my statement, please let this go as the matter is not relevant now as Shuuro mentioned. Thanks. – Nita.

  22. Nimmy permalink
    January 28, 2009 6:15 pm

    @Soham,i agree..I have seen posters and read articles of kashmiri muslims yelling and flying Pak flag..Let them go to hell if they want to.

    I was talking about the INDIAN muslims who chooce to stay here and this country is as dear to me as it is to you :)

  23. January 28, 2009 6:54 pm

    Please pick your award :)

  24. January 28, 2009 7:08 pm

    Kashmir residents will also lose the reservation benefit they get in education and job sector if they choose to leave India.

    I doubt whether they care! Their passion for the idea of a separate country is surely letting them believe that they can survive! – Nita.

  25. January 28, 2009 8:53 pm

    @Vivek S. Khadpekar
    UN appointed United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan(UNCIP) to investigate and mediate the dispute. Aug 13 resolution was adopted by UNCIP, therefore you won’t find it under security council resolutions section of the website.

    Here is the contents of the resolution from indian embassy(washington) website:

    http://www.indianembassy.org/policy/Kashmir/uncip(s1100).htm

    Later, Aug 13 1948 and Jan 5th 1949 resolutions of UNCIP were amalgamated. the same is reflected & incorporated in subsequent UN security council resolutions. UNCIP was dissolved and UN appointed it’s representatives to deal with india and pak. hope this clears.

    Below is an interesting excerpt from the article in Dawn by Irfan Husain over UN resolution:
    http://www.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/20040124.htm

    “So far, Pakistanis have been brainwashed into believing that it was India who did not permit a plebiscite in Kashmir. But in actual fact, the resolutions clearly called for the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Azad Kashmir followed by the ‘thinning’ of Indian troops as pre-conditions for a plebiscite. In the event, since Pakistani troops remained in place, the other steps could not follow.”

  26. January 28, 2009 9:54 pm

    With respect to Kashmir, I think it is for the Kashmiri people to figure out what they want. And with regards to the larger question regarding plural societies, except for India and US most plural societies have failed. US manages to last because it curbs the pluralistic tendencies by ensuring ppl rationalize them. The question on India still remains open.

    Arby, I am not sure what you mean by failed. If you mean economically I disagree. Sure, they have problems, like Britain has, but they are stronger than many other countries. – Nita.

  27. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 28, 2009 10:17 pm

    @Shuuro:

    Thanks a lot fot that clarification. And for the extract from Irfan Husain’s article. These help answer a lot of questions that have puzzled me over the years.

  28. January 28, 2009 10:20 pm

    Thats a very informative article Nita! However, I thought of adding couple of things .

    Political dispute in 1947 and 48 played an important role in today’s situation in Kashmir. At the time of independence, Kashmir state (having 75% of population of Muslim religion) was ruled by a Hindu Ruler, King Hari singh. And yes, kashmiris were happy under a centuries hindu rule. He was reluctant to hand over kashmir to Pakistan. When he hesitated, Pakistani army invaded Kashmir . Hari Singh turned to India and indian army pushed back Pakistani Guerrillas. UN was called in and plebiscite was required to determine Kashmir’s will. However, as you mentioned, unless Pakistan relieves control of POK, such plebiscite cannot be conducted. And Pakistan will never do that.

    The first election conducted in J&K elected Sheikh Abdullah with a landslide majority – who largely supported India’s rule. So why did early kashmiris elected someone who supported Indian rule? This definitely denotes that previous generations of Kashmiri were not separatist. Next generation was brainwashed by Pak (thanks to very streamlined operations by Pak Military and ISI) and fundamentalism spurred. In one of the comments, one “Nimmy” says that atrocities of Indian Army turned kashmiris in separatist. I beg to differ here for above reason. If separatists always existed inJ&K, national conference and entire Abdullah generation would have been assassinated by now.

    Thanks Rashmi. As you said the feelings of separatism were always there…and in fact they have been in many states in India. However in the case of Kashmir there was a very very strong foreign interference, to the extent of pakistan even training killers and sending them across the border. These people fanned the feelings and the army’s heavy handedness helped the terrorists. – Nita.

  29. January 28, 2009 10:42 pm

    Nita, you quoted Basharat Peer’s words: “[..] the problem really began after the Indian government brutally sought to crush the independence movement, when it was taken over by fundamentalists.”

    I’m wondering why would he mention the problem starting with ‘Indian government’s behavior’, and not with ‘the taking over of independence movement by fundamentalists’ when the latter preceded the former. There may be a context to these words that’s not presented, but going by these sentences, Basharat seems to give a tacit approval to fundamentalists taking over the independence movement.

    From what I have read about Peer, his views are anti-fundamentalism and anti-violence. But he also hates Indian security forces as much as the fundamentalists! – Nita.

  30. Naveen permalink
    January 28, 2009 10:46 pm

    @ Vivek

    A man had a very bad experience in the last bogie of a train. He sent a letter to the railway minister complaining the same and added a final solution note to solve the problem -“From now on, no train should ever have a last bogie”. Little did the smartypants realize that there is no train without the last bogie. Similarly, if you start plucking out the problematic state in any country, you will be left with nothing, Absolutely nothing. And giving up on everything without resistance and admitting that we failed is easy, infact very easy but only to create more problems. It will only disintegrate everything into regions, sub-regions, sub-sub-regions. Again leading us to princely states or tribes fighting among ourselves giving just another reason to bring us all under a foreign rule. Hope this answers your question.

    I can sense a socialist very easily, because they always ‘pretend’ to support the weak. Irrespective of what the problem is and who the problem is, they always (if I may)mindlessly support the weak and claim it as justice. They are the pseudo-intellectuals, the know-it-all group, deliberately provocative, with half-baked solutions to the world’s complicated problems, which if followed blindly only leads us to disaster and anarchy. Don’t fall prey to their trap, if you have not yet.

    Dont over-analyze things. Sympathizing and releasing every criminal believing that they turned into criminals because of lack of opportunities will leave you with nothing to punish and the difference between right and wrong will remain obscure and the society’s security undermined for-ever. And for God’s sake, don’t analyze a problem from the other’s perspective. Because they’d love to have you and me dead and have the rest of India, for free. And hopefully, you are not for it!

    “Concepts of nation-state, sovereignity etc. are being increasingly debated” First of all, I don’t buy this crap. This is a cult concept advocated by a few from both the extreme right and also the extreme left, each with different agendas though. In either case, they would like to take us back to the pre-historic era. I don’t think this will ever happen. Second, the concept of India is here to remain and has a long way to go because India is stronger than you and me can even imagine. This is not because of its military might but for its foundation based on ‘justice to all’.

  31. January 28, 2009 10:55 pm

    @ Naveen : Funny :-)

  32. wishtobeanon permalink
    January 29, 2009 12:25 am

    That was a balanced analysis, Nita. I think the Kashmir issue is going to be an unsolved problem just like the conflict between Palestine and Israel or India and Pakistan for that matter.

    wishtobeanon, I think the Kashmir issue will be solved once we have a strong civilian government at the centre in Pakistan (Pakistan will stop training murderers and killers to send into India). Ofcourse the brainwashing of their public that Kashmir is theirs, and a denial that they have taken a part of Kashmir from us by force, will take a longer time to go. But with a new generation it will go as well – Nita.

  33. locutus83 permalink
    January 29, 2009 12:38 am

    I have a slightly different take on Kashmir. Why is such a mountainous region full of snowy peaks barren lands with hardly any major industry or flourishing agriculture so valuable to both India and Pakistan?
    Why would both countries spend thousands of crores of money on soldiers, mujahideen, arms and ammunition?
    Is it because of Nationalism? Religion? History?

    They are just superficial reasons. The real reasons are, in my opinion
    1.WATER: Pure fresh glacial water flowing from the Himalayas- and control over it! This is a massive aspect which many people miss. Whoever controls the glaciers, controls the supply of freshwater for half of the Northern Subcontinent of India. In these days of global warming and receding glaciers, fresh water has become an extremely valuable natural resource!
    2. Strategic military control at the peak of the Indian subcontinent:
    Jinnah remarked with good reason that Kashmir was the ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan. Whoever controlled Kashmir completely would have a direct geographical access to the Indian Northern plains (via Kashmir Valley), and a connection with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan at the North (Gilgit region).

    No country spends money on any project or territory without expecting some major returns or without having a motive to avoid major losses in the future. Its pure economics and cost-benefit analyis.

    India just cannot literally afford to give Kashmir away, because doing so would allow Pakistan a stronger foothold into North India; it would give them access to all the rivers originating from the Himalayan Glaciers in Kashmir; also, it would embolden Pakistan to stoke more insurgencies all over India, which would pose a serious threat to the intergrity of the Indian Nation – and these combined are too high a loss compared to the cost India is paying at the moment to station hundreds of thousands of soldiers in Kashmir.

    Had Kashmir been a small state located near Rajasthan in the middle of the Rann of Kutch or the Thar desert without any strategic importance, I am sure there would not have been such hue and cry over it, and neither country would really bother where the territory went..

    Thanks locutus83. As you said, Kashmir is of strategic importance to India, the same way the north eastern states are to India viz China! We need Kashmir for our survival, and not only because it will be the beginning of other demands from other states. – Nita.

  34. January 29, 2009 12:47 am

    Nita: This is an eye opener. All the debates in the comments are good too.

    (just my personal view) – We as human beings struggle to live – we buy our own land in India, we work hard for food, we struggle to cloth ourselves. Here we are talking the politics of owning India and Pakistan. Lets (I hope) we never fight another war with Pakistan. Its just a piece of land where some human beings like us live. They too struggle to buy land, food and cover their nudity. Let’s not be bogged by the politics of Kashmir. I can understand the pride associated and the ego associated with something called “patriotism” but at the end of the day we are all ruled and were ruled by some stupid plunderers from Afganistan, later the British and now some stupid politicians who kicked us “human beings” around in the name of patriotism and nationalism. Good Day!

  35. January 29, 2009 2:16 am

    Phew Nita! How am I going to keep pace with all this research! Listen, I’ll return to comment on this one, because I absolutely must share with you what some Kashmiri Muslims I met here had so say about this. But first, I want to read all the comments in detail :)
    Keep up the good work and thanks a ton for raising this question the way you did: What They want and not what India or Pakistan want.
    My husband and I were discussing exactly this question a couple days back.
    See you soon, here I mean :)

  36. January 29, 2009 2:35 am

    You are right, If Kashmir is given a free status then it means every state in India has its right to become its own country. I bet states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and even Tamil Nadu will be first in line to try to get that status. It will become split into tiny countries like Europe and then someday someone will come up with the idea similar to Schenzen visa and a common currency like Euro and they will call it Indeo!

  37. January 29, 2009 3:29 am

    Nita, you said,
    “does a country founded on the basis of a similar culture, ethnicity, and religion, succeed?”

    Almost every country in the world is found on one of these basis, Germany, England, France, Vietnam, Japan, Brazil, the US (yes !), Australia, Iran, Iraq and many many more.

    In fact as far as I am concerned India, South Africa and Indonesia are the only reasonably successful countries not based on one of these ideas.

    “Is it possible for a successful democracy to be founded on such narrow values?”

    Nita, most of the countries that today claim to be multicultural democracies were upto recently monocultural nation states and have only recently starting having diverse populations. And even this diversity is usually cheap or high-skilled labour. Also even the preliminary acceptance of multiculturalism in these countries has come after the base monocultural population had developed a strong commitment to democracy and individual freedom.

    In India, we are trying to do the exact opposite. We are trying to unify existing culturally/linguistically/ethnically disparate populations into one political entity based on a common commitment to democracy.

    So there is no strict reason for Kashmir to be part of India. From my personal observations there is no strong emotional desire for Kashmiris to be with India. This is where the oft-repeated argument, “Oh then state X will also demand secession” fails, Tamils, Bengalis and Punjabis have a strong emotional attachment to India, along with a strong understanding of the practical benefits it brings.

    There are very good practical arguments that one can make for Kashmir to be in some kind of union with India. Most of all a safety net, for times of trouble in a geographically challenged valley. If you observe the details of the turnout, you will see it was spectacular (80 %) in the upper reaches of the valley hit hardest by the earthquake because of the army’s good work there. But the turnout was abysmal in Srinagar where the intellectual and political elite live. So this vote is a chance for India to drive home the practical benefits.

    But eventually we will have to own up to the abuses that have been committed in the valley. Otherwise, they will always be emotionally detached.

    Vikram, you have actually proved my point. I am not saying these things did not happen historically. I am saying that the world has changed. Today for any nation to be successful it has to be more flexible. Starting a nation with this idea today in the 21st century is the biggest mistake! As you yourself mentioned, most successful countries are now changing their demographics. They are changing because they need different people to keep themselves dynamic. – Nita.

  38. January 29, 2009 5:25 am

    its useless to waste tax-payers money on Kashmir.

  39. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 29, 2009 8:21 am

    @Vikram:

    Thanks for a very perceptive comment. For once, the word “nation” would have been legitimate to use in your (springing from Nita’s) discussion of geo-administrative entities founded on the basis of a similar culture, ethnicity, and religion; but you use “country”. On the other hand, we find that word freely and widely used even where it is not right to do so.

    To your list comprising India, Indonesia and South Africa, I would add most of the large counries of sub-saharan Africa (they are as “reasonably successful” as South Africa) and the world’s second-largest island New Guinea (which comprises the independent country of Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian states of Papua and Irian Jaya).

    I guess the most boringly culturally homogeneous country in the world would have to Korea (I mean both N and S).

  40. vasudev permalink
    January 29, 2009 9:33 am

    the concept of countries become irrelevant in the current global village context. people migrate to wherever they find ‘kaam and ijjat’. a lot of patriotism has gone down the drain (better!) over the last decade. wherever there is patriotism there is ego and ego leads to avoidable wars. wars benefit on the corrupt to plunder even more (including coffin kickbacks). wars also benefit arms dealers to sell you outdated arms at outrageous prices. developed nations create reasons for either a ‘division’ by employing their agents to create just that. then they create ‘patriotism’ by employing some different agents. once both have been successfully implemented the climate becomes suitable to go ahead with bigger business goals such as war. so first you create a difference and out of difference automatically comes outrage, anger and a feeling of ‘oneness’. out of oneness comes the desire to stand solid against a fictitious enemy. it is better to have a broader view where the world is your home.

  41. January 29, 2009 9:37 am

    @ Nita : I am talking abt a nation of comparable size to India or US. UK and France are nowhere near what they were before WWII, since they let go of their colonies. Going by history, Roman Empire got split up and so did Austria Hungary, which where both nations formed out of others. Even smaller countries like Sri Lanka, Belgium & Bolivia have had issues. I don’t have many examples for countries that have been multicultural and lasted longer than a century or more.
    If u do have examples of multicultural countries lasting over even 50 years as a single entity, do mention it. Thanks.

    I am not saying there are no issues. But I believe multi-culturalism is the way of the future. So let us agree to disagree here. I know many people do believe that India should split up like Europe but I personally do not see a future in that, not now, not today. – Nita.

  42. January 29, 2009 10:04 am

    Nita,

    To respond to locutus83

    You have hit the nail on its head. Control over water resources is critical to the survival of Pakistan.

    You will note that inspite of all destruction wrought by terrorists no water body or structure governed by the Indus Water Treaty has ever been touched. That is the juglar vein of Pakistan.

    India having control of upstream water resources makes Pakistan and to some extent Bangladesh vulnerable as we are to China in case of Brahmaputra.

    To add to the military angle, this also controls access to Tibet and Sinkiang apart from what has been stated. The people of Kashmir seem the most dispensable from Pakistan’s point of view but it is an intensely emotional punching bag. Every time the rulers feel insecure out comes teh Kashmir bag and gets punched a few times.

    The sound bytes that follow are never-fail diversionary tactic.

    To Vikram:

    You have to analyse the harm that Article 370 of the Indian constitution has done.

    It has kept J&K as a state separate and prevented meaningful integration with India. These artificial barriers keep contributing to keeping people separated. Art.370 is no longer a political agenda. It’s abolition is of strategic interest to India.

    Nita

    I have been reading about Army excesses. They are doing a thankless job. The result is almost binary in nature. You shoot him or he shoots you.

    When the probability is 50:50 you don’t give a damn to civil rights and excesses. It is a matter of survival and a tense cat and mouse game.

    It is sad but to criticise the jawan for excesses is not fair. With one hand tied behind his back, he is cannon fodder and one more coffin in the long list that has preceeded him.

    Mavin, I think you are not aware of everything and I don’t blame you. These things are kept secret, but I am sure even you will agree that rape is not to be condoned. Rape is just one example. The other incidents are too disturbing for me to write about, but one day I will. But at the same time I think that no army is free from such atrocities and these things happen in war and insurgencies as there are always evil people everywhere. Overall the terrorists are far more to blame and have committed more atrocities, but everyone does not think so. – Nita.

  43. January 29, 2009 10:13 am

    Very educative and comprehensive post Nita.

    I just hope that whatever the final solution be, there would be consideration for the preferences of the Hindus who were driven out of Kashmir.

    Thanks AD. Unfortunately the terrorists care nothing for the plight of the Kashmiri Pundits. So our first agenda is to get rid of those elements! – Nita.

  44. January 29, 2009 10:23 am

    Thank you Vivek. Yes those words mean very different things and are often misused.

    Nita, just to back up what I claimed and to reinforce my point, here is a BBC photo journal on the village of Uri, immediately after the 2005 earthquake,
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/south_asia_earthquake_in_uri_village/html/1.stm

    after the army’s superb rehabilitation efforts,
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/south_asia_return_to_uri_village/html/1.stm

    Apparently, these were taken by a British software developer in Srinagar ???? 8-O

    The voter turnout in Uri was 81.73 %.

    So we need to win hearts and minds, not talk about our multi-culturalism. But it wont be easy in Srinagar.

    Thanks Vikram. This really touched me because I have lived in Uri, 6 months in all! :) I think people have not understood what I said. I am completely pro-army! But s just because one believes in the army, this does not mean that they can do no wrong. If we think that they can do no wrong, this will certainly not win hearts and minds. – Nita.

  45. January 29, 2009 11:41 am

    They’re just lines on a map.. Why can’t people learn to accept the fact that kashmir is too beautiful a place to be angry in! I really wonder how such serenity can breed hate and violence! Sigh…

    I guess the terrorists have no idea of what beauty is! They probably think that AK 47’s are beautiful! :) – Nita.

  46. January 29, 2009 12:09 pm

    Nita, you are absolutely right, if the army or police did anything wrong they must be punished. I never meant to dispute that. In fact, that is going to be a big part of winning Srinagar over, plus its the right thing to do. I just meant to say that we have to make concrete efforts to reach out, not just talk about the idea of India. And this election is a golden chance that must not be missed.

  47. January 29, 2009 3:58 pm

    Hi Nita
    First of all, the idea of an independent Kashmir is very naive and utopian. Kashmir being a landlocked region cannot survive on its own. In the 80’s India imposed a blockade on Nepal and China cud not help it becoz it is geographically not possible becoz of the presence of Himalyas.

    Secondly, the problem is usually called the Kashmir issue ignoring the presence of Hindus. Hindus are the much more educated community and they dominate the bureaucracy in state. During the 90’s several thousand Hindus were killed and there were massive calls by Muslims to Hindus to leave the state. This divide has existed eversince but it was visible for the first time in the elections.

    regards
    Sandy
    http://sandywriter.blogspot.com/

  48. Khyati permalink
    January 29, 2009 8:29 pm

    An interesting post. I had visited Kashmir about 2 years back, and I was pleasantly surprised with the warm reception we got from the residents and the locals. We met a Muslim Kashmiri family, 3-4 kids, mothers, and a young man. They were very welcoming, clicked photos in their cell phones with us and in fact invited us to their place for kashmiri biryani!! Even the locals responded the same way. The guide made my father wear his kashmiri over coat because he thought he looked good in it. And he didn’t even bother to take out his cell phone or money from the pockets! He trusted us to that extent. No where did we see a hint of wanting separation from India. They said we just want employment and want more tourists.

    And Kashmir truly is a paradise on the earth. You gotta go there and see it for yourself. Though there was a whole lot of security measures. Lot of checking and even if you stop on the road, a guard will come and enquire. But he would go once he is sure that you are just tourists. So take some proofs along whenever you plan a trip!

  49. January 29, 2009 10:31 pm

    How is independence going to help. Kashmir cannot survive economically on it’s own. It needs the support of a stable country like India to sustain it.

  50. babudeepan permalink
    January 29, 2009 10:37 pm

    Nice post,”No India No Pakistan we need free kashmir” it is really touching

  51. January 29, 2009 10:38 pm

    @ Nita : I am not against multi-culturalism.Nor do I want India to be split up.
    But lack of central leadership and over dependence on certain regions for power will lead to a division being created in the society and lead to its disintegration.
    It will start with each regions fighting against each other while the centre is unable to do anything abt it. Eventually, the regions decide they are better off on their own rather than in a larger amalgam. Or this can happen first as well. Everyone strive for self determination when they feel their larger country is not up to their mark.
    Unless the plurality is corrected or rationalized with a national focus (in the case of US) the breakup is inevitable. Okay, u can disagree with my logic, but I am going by the historical example of Rome after Nero, Commodus and the Severii, Netherlands in 1600s as a part of a weak Habsburg Spain, Sweden in the Union of Kalmar, Eastern Europe as Ottoman declined, Northern India after Aurangazeb, Ireland after WWI and colonialism after WWII etc., here.

  52. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    January 29, 2009 10:53 pm

    @ Arby K:

    //Unless the plurality is corrected or rationalized with a national focus…//

    What exactly do you mean by the ‘correction of plurality’? Who defines what the ‘correct’ form of plurality is? And what about those of us who may have different ideas on the subject? Or are you planning to deny us those kind of democratic rights?

  53. January 31, 2009 11:31 pm

    Letting go of one state would mean that India would go the USSR way. Will it solve the problem? It would be worse than what happened during partition.
    And, I completely agree with you. The moment Kashmir separates out, it would be swallowed by Pakistan. And will it end the Terrorist attacks in India? Nope! So what is the point?

  54. February 1, 2009 2:36 am

    USA isn’t pluralistic. It is immigrant. I believe that to be a significant difference in the way people interact with each other.

  55. Vinod permalink
    February 3, 2009 3:29 am

    Nita

    I must applaud you for your dispassionate and rounded presentation. Few Indians can do so.

    I see no merit in India’s argument at all, which you’ve presented in the end. It is merely speculative, parnoid and even if real, it can be managed. Secondly, it is also patently paternalistic. Who are we to decide whether kashmiris can make a successful state of themselves?

    Practically, if India wants to retain kashmir, it has to regain the trust of the kashmiris. It has to give them their autonomy in a big way while still retaining ultimate sovereignty over it – something like the way UK deals with Northen Ireland. A delicate task that no India govt is currently mature enough to accomplish.

  56. ambikaz permalink
    February 4, 2009 12:33 am

    Do Kashmiris want to be part of Pakistan?

    This blog post has gotten off to a wrong start! First of all it’s Jammu and Kashmir and not just Kashmir. Second of all after all that ethnic cleansing of Hindus it’s moot to ask the rest what they want!

    PLEASE READ THIS ONCE
    WHEN KASHMIRI PANDITS FLED ISLAMIC TERROR
    http://www.jaia-bharati.org/anglais/gupta-kashmirpandits.htm

  57. February 10, 2009 7:37 pm

    Very interesting comments from most of my friends. In 1948,if the establishment had listened to Sardar Patel,there would not have been a problem called J&K.Now we have Kashmir,but another Patel will never be born.
    British in their true divide and rule policy ,left the border problem for India and Pak.
    Now 60 yrs down, Kashkiris have realised that they were being made a monkey of by the separatists, supported by Pak establishment/Pak army/ISI.
    All that kashmiris want peace, like all of us want.
    I wrote “J&K voting”on 24/12/08 and “J&K high hopes from Omar”on 05/01/09 in my blog.
    I am very hopeful,if Omar has a right mix of cabinet with Pandits and separatists he will be able to provide a stable Govt…after all is’nt all about power?

  58. Milind Kher permalink
    March 6, 2009 10:51 pm

    Some correctionsneeded on this article. firstly only a minority in Kashmir is Shia. Only Kargil is Shia dominated. And Balawaristan.

    The valley is overwhelmingly Sunni.

    Also, the Kashmiri movement for Azaadi is not a religious movement. They are looking for a secular state. Every state in undivided India got a right to choose whehter it wanted to bein India or Pakistan. Kashmiris were assured of a plebiscite, but were cheated out of it.

    They have been caught in a crossfire between Indian security forces on the one hand and Afghan and Uzbek militants on the other.

    • March 7, 2009 7:43 am

      Milind, thanks for the correction about the shia and sunni thing. However I disagree with you about the plebiscite. I do not think the states have really the kind of right you mention. Or perhaps you feel only Kashmir had a right and not the other states. I am not sure what you meant. And yes I agree that the Kashmiris who want azadi from Pakistan and India are willing to accept the Kashmiri Hindus as well. However the terrorists will never allow that.

  59. Milind Kher permalink
    March 7, 2009 8:52 am

    Nita,

    All the states in Pakistan got the right to secede from India. So did Bangladesh.

    All the others remained in India. In Kashmir, Hari Singh, on BEHALF of the Kashmiris acceded to India.

    My belief is that if Azaad Kashmir is allowed, it will be a secular state where Kashmiri Pandits will be free to live.

    Kashmir has been hijacked by fundamentalist militants. The genuine Kashmiri people are not a violent lot. You can see that after infiltration has stopped, violence has virtually ceased.

  60. Vinod permalink
    March 7, 2009 9:08 am

    Nita, to clarify what Milind said – when the British left India the general plan was to let the states rules by princes/kings make the choice themselves on whether they want to be independent or join one of the unions.

    In that vein, it was strange for the Nawab in Hyderabad to want to join Pakistan when the majority of the people were Hindus. Similarly it was strange for Kashmir to join India when the majority of the people were muslims there. If Patel could do what he did in Hyderabad to annex it to the Indian Union and feel right about it, I think Pakistan can feel right about trying to annex Kashmir into Pakistan.

    I don’t think the prices/kings represented the people at all. I don’t think much weight needs to be given to the agreements signed by the kings/princes of states. They were thinking in their self-interest.

    • March 7, 2009 10:29 am

      Vinod:
      Hmm, that is a point. The rulers didn’t really speak for the people. I guess that is why the separatist movement in Kashmir started in the first place.

  61. March 7, 2009 9:27 am

    @ Vinod : Small correction – The princely states were told to choose either India or Pakistan when the British left. They were not given the option to stay independent.

  62. March 7, 2009 11:43 am

    @Arby K
    Princely states were indeed given the option to stay independent even. As regards to the point on Kings making a choice on behalf of their people, it was Pakistan who first chose ignore the people and go with the Nawab’s in Hyderabad and Junagarh.
    Plz read the following article for the historical turning points in Kashmir.
    http://sandywriter.blogspot.com/2008/12/historical-turning-points-in-kashmir.html

    • Vinod permalink
      March 7, 2009 1:18 pm

      Sandy, your blog article was most educative. Thank you for linking us to that and congrats on a great well written article.

      I would recommend your article to everybody interested in the topic. Clearly shows that it was all about who played politics and military well that determined the national boundaries. The interests of people did not count then and does not count now. It’s all about “Kasmir is ours. If we let it go then what about others who want to be independent”. People forget that nations are not independent entities of their own. They are made of people whose aspirations are bound together. If those aspirations start falling apart then there is no nation that can be forced onto them.

    • March 7, 2009 7:14 pm

      From what I understand the princely states were told by Lord Mountbatten to join either or else suffer the ire of UK. Trying to take on India, Pakistan and UK on their own would have been suicidal. Do read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_integration_of_India .

      Interesting post of urs, though.

  63. Milind Kher permalink
    March 7, 2009 1:18 pm

    The original plan was to have three Muslim countries – Pakistan (Current Pakistan) Bangistan (Current Bangladesh) and Usmanistan (Hyderabad etc).

    Of course, Usmanistan did not make sense. Pakistan was envisaged as PAKSTAN where

    P= Punjab
    A = Afghan Frontier (NWFP)
    K =Kashmir
    S= Sindh
    TAN = Baluchistan

    That is why Pakistan keeps having a dispute over Kashmir. And India claims Kashmir on account of the accession signed by Hari Singh.

  64. Milind Kher permalink
    March 7, 2009 7:56 pm

    Arby K,

    When you go through the Wikipedia article, you will find that Pandit Nehru distinctly talked about a plebiscite, which was never honored.

    It must be remarked, though, that the situation in Kashmir is much better today. However, it is an uneasy calm, and the hearts of the people need to be won.

  65. vasudev permalink
    March 7, 2009 8:22 pm

    let us, india and pakistan, give ‘azadi’ to kashmir and see what worse can happen? nothing worse than ‘tourism’ can happen. at least i can probably take that much-wanted vacation in ‘azad kashmir’ and pay them in dollars. that would make them rich and all kashmiri terrorists of yesteryears would vie with each other to woo me and my dollars!

    as regards azad kashmir being a threat to me because i lose the himalayan ring of protection…let me tell ya! after 26/11 i do not even believe in the existense of the himalayas!

  66. Milind Kher permalink
    March 7, 2009 8:35 pm

    Vasudev,

    I agree with you. Those guys really need peace. and giving them Azaadi will end the Indo Pak dispute and militancy.

    The innocent Kashmiri Pandits who were driven out by foreign militants can go back and live peacefully with their brother Koshurs.

  67. March 7, 2009 9:40 pm

    @Milind and Vasudev
    There is one very basic fact that u ppl r ignoring. Kashmir is landlocked and thus cannot exist on its own. It need India or Pakistan to support it. For example: Nepal is landlocked and has the Himalayas in the north. So that leaves it with only one option, India. The Indo-Nepal border is free and India allows goods to flow in and out. Similarly, Kashmir wud need goods and commodities like oil, foodgrains, etc all of which are not produced in the valley.

    So any solution on Kashmir has to satisfy all three parties. Moreover, even if India withdraws from Kashmir, Pakistan may not do so. The 1940 declaration of Muslim League said that it would allow Balochistan to exist as a separate state if it so wished. But this promise hasn’t been kept and Pakistan continues to exploit Balochi resources like oil but the province remains impoverished and is the most backward among the provinces of Pakistan. India also gave up Siachen, but Pakistan back stabbed us by occupying it.

    So even if India leaves Kashmir, there is no guarantee that Pakistan will keep its promise.

  68. Milind Kher permalink
    March 7, 2009 9:57 pm

    Sandy,

    My humble submission is, whether for better or for worse, why not let the Kashmiris decide?

    Today, there are landlocked countries like Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrghiztan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan who ARE managing. For all you know, Kashmir may trade with India AND Pakistan.

    Any thoughts on this?

  69. vasudev permalink
    March 7, 2009 10:05 pm

    sandy…on the contrary, i see great opportunities for indian farmers to export their goods to kashmir. plus, how about charging a percentage for the ‘pass-through’? as well as, lay road/rail/airport infrastructures and charge a fee? exploit tourismm in kashmir? put-up 5/7 star hotels there? conduct world tours to kashmir? exploit known data about kashmir and obtain wholesome licences for exporting rare dry fruits and spices from kashmir? clearly this would be more beneficial to india rather than maintaining a whole time military base there?

    as regards pakistan back tracking…well…the decision to make kashmir independant must be ratified by the UN. if pakis backtrack the UN can intervene.

  70. March 7, 2009 10:25 pm

    @Milind & Vasudev
    Surely, some landlocked countries may be existing on their own. But such countries always remain dependent on their neighbors. For instance, Kyrghiztan recently asked US to close down its military base in their country. This was done at the insistence of Russians who do not wish to allow the US to extend their influence in the region.

    Likewise, hypothetically if Kashmir become independent and it chooses to ally with Pakistan, then its foreign policy will surely be dictated. For instance they could stop the Amarnath Yatra or something else.

    Nevertheless, I do agree that Kashmiris must be involved in deciding their own fate. But under the present circumstances of growing fundamentalism and instability in the region, it wud be little foolish to take any decision in a haste.

  71. vasudev permalink
    March 7, 2009 10:38 pm

    sandy…the independance of india came with lots of ‘fs & buts’. you have raised some valid points. it is for the indian and pakistani foreign offices and agencies to introduce the favorable clauses in the agreement for making kashmir independant.

    as you pointed out, the current political scenario in kashmir does not encourage rendering it any freedom in haste. let them learn to become mature and self-sustaining first. plus, the issue of the kashmiri hindus is always there. kashmir cannot be allowed an islamic status and india must ensure democracy there. the clause must contain suitable conditions of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ so that we can lay claim on the land if found going in the worng direction. otherwise we would be throwing the kashmiri apple to a bunch of unruly ‘monkeys’.

  72. Milind Kher permalink
    March 9, 2009 10:28 pm

    Azaad Kashmir is envisaged to be a secular state. Kashmiris are not pushing for a theocratic state at all. And many of them would be quite happy to have the Pandits back.

    We must not confuse the Kashmiri outlook with that of the militants who had hijacked the state.

  73. March 14, 2009 11:15 pm

    I though this comment of mine in another blog might also contribute to the discussion here,

    XYZ Indian, the reason why a Bengali Hindu can co-exist peacefully (for the most part) with a Mizo Christian and a Malayali Muslim in India is because they subscribe to a type of nationalism called civic nationalism. Basically, their relationship with ‘India’ is defined by the Constitution, with which they are in basic agreement with (civil liberties, free and fair elections, freedom of press etc.).

    Perhaps, this is why Kashmiri ‘separatism’ shocks many well-meaning Indians. But the problem is that a civic nationalism has never been allowed to develop in Kashmir, because of the actions of our Union Government and army. The AFSPA and other acts completely undermine the Constitution in the valley, and Kashmiris have had none of the civil liberties and representative governments that we take for granted. The Supreme Court, which has so often come to the rescue of democracy in India, has completely failed the Kashmiris.

    They are constantly suppressed and alienated, and feel no connection to India. The fact they are mostly non-Hindu and a border state has also contributed, but those are not the fundamental reasons.

    A civic nationalism could have developed in Kashmir, and both Indians and Kashmiris would have benefited immensely, but it hasnt. And so we should just let Kashmiris decide their future now.

    • vasudev permalink
      March 15, 2009 12:33 am

      but isn’t kashmir just a decorative ‘naam-ke-vaste’ state of india? i know that is the only place in my country where i cannot own any property. therefore, is there some such un-doable’ for ‘firangy indian’ constitutional implementation also?

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