The Kashmir issue has become a stumbling block in improving Indo-Pak relations, costing both sides fortune to spend on military. Unless this problem is solved there is no hope that the lot of a common man on both sides will ever improve. Of course one should not be oblivious to other evils like corruption and lack of transparency in governance particularly in the case of Pakistan.
Every problem has two underlying factors to be understood and logically analysed. First why is this problem and what are the solutions available? The simple answer to the first part is the right of self determination to Kashmiris and the answer to the second part, is whether the solution lies in peaceful means or war. If it was the later one, the problem would have have been solved by now. Because we have been to war four times. The peaceful means, none of the two countries have seriously tried.
Let us look at the problem from humane angle. The right of plebiscite is meant to give a nation the choice to determine its future. It is the basic human right of every nation denied to many including us . Unfortunately both sides are limiting the choice like the British did it to us. In this case and in the case of Pakhtun in 1947 partition of India both were offered limited plebiscite. Restricted plebiscite means nothing, either it should be open or not at all. This rigid stance bilaterally is the main reason, asking Kashmiris either to join Pakistan or India. This is against the spirit of plebiscite. Why not to include total independence as a sovereign state if both sides are really honest to themselves and Kashmiris. It sounds as it is the question of their national ego rather than the choice of Kashmiris. it is logically obscured why Kashmiris should suffer , to satisfy their ego.
The rigid stand is beyond understanding and logic. The two are dragger drawn for something that belongs to none of them. The real owner has been sidelined.
As Pakistan does not want Kashmir under Indian occupation, India wants vice versa. In the case of independence it will be under occupation of none and the spirit of the plebiscite will not be injured. at the same time satisfy the ego of both.
Another strange logic India wants to discuss Kashmir issue but only Pakistani occupied Kashmir and so Pakistan is ready to discuss the Indian held Kashmir, no one is ready to discuss the whole Kahsmir.
Both sides know in their hearts very well that by force none of them can achieve it, if any one of them could do, they would have done it long ago. Both are nuclear powers, if there is a war, the chances of pre-emptive strike is more from Pakistani side being a smaller country, long war does not go in favour of smaller nation and using the nuclear weapons is hair raising, means obliteration of a country, that will leave nothing to fight for, except ashes.
Both sides are not interested in the freedom of Kashmiris but in their land. If we look at humane angle, the best is, let both sides surrender their occupation and let there be an open plebiscite . I am sure they will ultimately go for sovereignty. Before destroying its natural beauty and nominal infrastructure, it will be the Switzerland of Asia and just by developing green industry like tourism and pharmaceutical industry, having no huge army they can have better life quantitatively and qualitatively which, is not possible under none of both. Strategically it is sandwiched between India, Pakistan and China, all would wish to pump cash and kind so not to allow it to be used by others.
Let me take further the doctrine of Justice Javed Iqbal that once it is achieved it will pave the path towards Asian union, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives. It will be another corridor of prosperity and economic stability. It will be in the best interest of the region and its inhabitants as whole. The borders would remain but not a restrictive barrier for human movement. Other countries like Afghanistan and Burma can join or even China.
It will drastically reduce our defense budgets that can be spent on raising the standard of living of the common man, It is my point of view for long time, studying this disputed issue and that of my own nation from the days of my studentship days in early 60’s and have written many articles on this subject. Dr. Javed Iqbal gave me the words that are precise and to the point. It is a point of view, needs serious consideration by both sides.
There is a basic difference between point of view and angle of view. The first one is based on knowledge and listening to many scholars to gain enough to have your own point of view, while the later is just an observation. The best example of the later as if a person looking from one side and the other from opposite side at figure of 9. To one it will be 9,to the other it will look like 6. Observations are grossly misleading. While one makes a point of view after studying the problem from all angles, historical background, ground realities and asking the people in question. I am yet to meet an educated Kashmiri from either side, wishing to be a part of either country.
In the case of Pakistan we have completely ignored Kashmir. Had we given them an exemplary self -governance or developed the area to create a temptation for Indian Kashmiris that would have changed the scenario. Unfortunately we have none of both in Pakistan. Or had we recognised Pakistan as home to different nations with different cultures and history, looking like a bouquet of flowers with different colours and smell that would have been a different case, We have basically nothing to tempt them. So what is the point to live in no war no peace atmosphere, building up the heap of hatred and developing the weapons of mass destruction. Million and billion of dollars going waste in building of the stockpiles of deadly weapon. Will it not be good idea to spend it on our citizens.
I come from a school of thought created by Abdul Ghaffar Khan who always preached that Kashmir belong to Kashmiris. Till today ANP has no office or branch in Kashmir.
Writer: Khurshid Alam
The writer is a columnist with THE PASHTUN TIMES. He can be reached at
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