India-Pakistan Dialogues

The on again, off again dialogues between Pakistan and India were on again, or were they? With time, the results have resulted in diminishing, not increasing returns, and clearly no lasting peace dividends. These dialogue streams have been ephemeral ever since the emergence of Pakistan and India as sovereign states from the British rule way back in 1947.

Almost always in response to some domestic or international compulsions, the talks have been used by India as a delaying or distraction tactic. Buying time is what Indians have traditionally used them for at various times and in various circumstances. There is not one country in the world that has perfected the art of deception so doggedly and as effectively as India has, particularly in the case of Kashmir. They have duped the world, including the US administration and the US Congress in to believing that bilateral talks are the only possible way to resolve the mutual disputes between India and Pakistan. No mention is made of involving the Kashmiris and a third party in tripartite dialogues to address the vexing issue of Kashmir. Any hint or suggestion of third party mediation made by any nation or entity is quickly rejected by the Indians. No institution or world body has the moral courage to hold India responsible for the intransigence and disruption of world and regional peace.

Yet, the whole world knows and India itself knows that Kashmir is the crux and the core of the conflict between the two nuclear armed powers. Kashmir and Kashmir alone remains the most vexing issue that defies a permanent solution of the regional conflict. Rooted in Indian intransigency and its visceral animosity towards Pakistan, India has been unable to come to terms with the inevitability of addressing the Kashmir issue, once and for all.  Dozens of bilateral meetings at the highest levels of the governments and many accords and peace treaties inside and outside the two countries, a permanent settlement and a durable peace is nowhere within sight or within reach. If anything, peace seems more remote a dream now than it was 60 years ago. Kashmir was the key to the regional peace then and it remains so today.

In no way does it mean that we do not favor India-Pakistan dialogues. Far from that, we sincerely wish both countries to establish and nurture peace. All we are saying is that skirting the Kashmir issue will not achieve a durable peace for any one in the region. What we are saying is that the peace train must, literally and figuratively, run through the mountains and valleys of Kashmir before it ushers in an era of peace, security and happiness for all– India, Pakistan and Kashmir. The reality of new India and new Pakistan must make room for the reality of a new Kashmir (Naya Kashmir).

Kashmir is not historically or intrinsically a part of India. It does not share a natural kinship of any kind with it. India merely has an imperialist and colonialist interest in Jammu and Kashmir.  Indians have demonstrated over and over again that they have no emotional attachment with the people of Kashmir. In 1947 nearly half a million Muslims in Jammu were massacred as a means of ethnic cleansing. Local Hindus were assisted by Indian troops from Punjab in these heinous crimes. India managed to carve out Jammu city and many towns into Hindu strongholds to help India establish a toe hold in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Massacres and murder of 130,000 Kashmiris, and massive atrocities unleashed on the entire population of Kashmir, without any remorse, speaks volumes about the imperial interest of the Indians.

 Despite occupation, oppression and massive state-sponsored corruption, Indians have utterly failed to foster a sense of security, mutual trust and shared values between themselves and the Kashmiris in the last six decades. We can honestly say that the overwhelming majority of Kashmiris do not share any emotional connection with or empathy for India. Likewise, it can be said without any fear of contradiction, that majority of Indians harbor grudge, not empathy for Kashmiris. Proof positive– massacres of Kashmiri men, women and children by Indian occupation forces since 1990 have never generated any debate or emotional outrage in the Indian media or among the Indian people. Security forces guilty of murders and atrocities are never brought to justice. Popular Kashmiri leaders are left to languish in prisons and simple liberties denied to the masses. That is proof enough that for Indians Kashmir is merely a piece of expensive real estate and its people merely a nuisance to contend with. Unless India recognizes this fundamental fact, there will never by any peace for any body, including India.

The latest round of Foreign Secretary level talks ended up as a dismal failure. US Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton must know that bilateral dialogues have never furthered the cause of peace because Indians have never been sincere going in to the meetings. Without Kashmiri inclusion the talks are an oxymoron. They buy time, not peace. They delay peace and prolong misery. They serve India, not Pakistan. They reward Indian intransigency and punish Pakistan for good behavior.  Above all they leave Kashmiris to their devices and loss of hope in humanity and due process.

From Pakistani perspective, why would a nation let itself be defrauded time after time, cheated time after time, ridiculed time after time and back stabbed time after time? Why would they listen to outsiders to sit with India in unproductive dialogues year after year, while the same outsiders cannot persuade India to accept them as the mediators in a peaceful dialogue? Why can’t Pakistan persuade the US to pressurize India to accept its mediation?

Every Kashmiri leader has expressed disappointment with the outcome of the Foreign Secretarial talks. Syed Ali Geelani had warned Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir even before the talks that he must emphasize Kashmir as the core of the conflict without which no dialogues would proceed. His stand was once again vindicated by the Indian behavior in the talks. Umar Farooque, hoped Kashmir would get some traction, but he too felt disappointed by the attitude of the Indians and failure of the talks.