Kashmir situation is heading to a stalemate; where principal players’ project views that seem to be divergent to the point of being irreconcilable. Whereas the resolution of the dispute ought to be related to the given political situation, it is being tied to the question of sovereignty and security. While no compromise on sovereignty and security of controlling powers is being advocated, the security of life and limb of Kashmiris remains at stake. It would be futile to overlook the situation on the ground. It is the political situation on ground that should dictate the solution.
Taking an overview of the political situation, as it exists on ground since 1989-90, more or less hundred thousand have lost their lives, clamouring for political resolution of Kashmir dispute. Known as Kashmir dispute, it is otherwise related to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the LoC. The stakes have heightened lately, over last six weeks of strikes with the state imposing a curfew. More or less sixty persons have died, with thousands injured. Many are on the verge of losing their eyesight, darkening their lives forever.
Towards the fag end of April, 2016, in a development of some significance, UN Peace Building Commission chair Macharia Kamau related ‘K’ resolution to political situation on ground. In a highly guarded statement, he said that primacy of politics and local conditions that drive any negotiations between India and Pakistan have to be “respected” while resolving Kashmir issue. While referring to primacy of politics, ground situations and local conditions, Kamau obviously meant the ground facts in the disputed region—the state of Jammu and Kashmir, though his statement was couched in diplomatic approach.
Macharia Kamau while outlining the Commission’s three-fold approach to the Kashmir issue cited “the primacy of politics”. He said, “We have to respect the local conditions that drive the negotiations.” Another element advocated by Kamau was that “we respect the idea they must sustain peace, so the situation cannot be allowed to deteriorate”. And he set the limit to any role in dealing with the dispute, ruling out any direct involvement. He said, “We reach out to as many of the institutions within the subcontinent to support this (peace) process moving forward. That is the ambition that we would have for that process on the subcontinent.”
Direct involvement is ruled out, given the Indian sensitivities on third party intervention. However within the given situation, UN agencies and international human right organizations could help by highlighting the political situation as it exists on the ground. And by heightening the stakes for India by bringing in focus the human rights violations. Human rights situation in Baluchistan, whatever the fact or otherwise of it, cannot be taken as a ruse to violate rights in Kashmir. The alibi on the face of it does not hold, though human rights violations anywhere deserve to be condemned.
“Will it have an overnight fundamental impact that would change everything on the ground?” Kamau asked rhetorically and said, “That is a ‘may be’ precisely because the situations on the ground are driven by different forces other than the ones that we are looking to address ourselves.” Kamau sounds prophetic, as we assess the situation, a few months ahead of the time, he made the statement. During these months other forces mentioned by Kamau did come to fore, such as efforts to dilute whatever is left of Kashmir autonomy by affecting the demographic profile with sanik colonies, pucca-houses for non-residents, cluster colonies, and an industrial policy accommodating non-residents. It was largely the build-up anger, for which Burhan Wani’s killing acted as the trigger.
“We never say never in our business. That is not the way.” Kamau said while responding to a reporter’s question if that meant a solution to the almost 70-year dispute was not likely. He qualified his statement by relating, “The whole idea of building peace is to always seek solutions and look for the historical moment, the historical opportunity that will avail of the opportunity to engage and to bring the instruments that are now available to us in the context of the resolutions to bear on the situation”. Asked by a Pakistani reporter if it meant a peace process will depend on Indian’s willingness to talk, Kamau was reported as relating, “I wouldn’t go as far as to say that.” And he yet again added the caveat, “What I would say is that the situation on the ground has to be respected. And it isn’t about any one country. It is about all the political players on the ground.”
The primacy of political situation on ground, as related by Kamau, cannot be merely related to the Indian or Pakistani approach to ‘K’ dispute. It primarily concerns the people of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir across LoC, given the political situation on ground. Resolution, as and when it comes about cannot be held hostage to sovereignty and security of controlling powers, though nothing may remain beyond the ambit of a serious dialogue, where besides other stakeholders, people of Jammu and Kashmir across LoC remain the primary stakeholders. Peace is at stake, as it may not prevail, unless and until resolution of Kashmir dispute evolves, based on primacy of political situation on ground.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival] (Author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist)