Kashmir Is Peaceable

Kashmir is now peaceable. This belief has been gathering credence amongst conflict resolution experts across the globe. Does it mean that ‘the impressions that the Kashmir issue had lost its urgency or shed its significance”   that was dominant in diplomatic circles and important think tanks in the world in the post 9/11 scenario have started etherizing? 

Before trying to understand what has made many international opinion makers to believe that this problem is now holding a promise for resolution there is need to understand what kind of thinking was responsible for considering that Kashmir was an ‘Intractable’ problem. Ambassador Muhammad Yusuf Buch, a Kashmiri by birth and a former Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General has in an article endeavored to look at this question a bit in detail. Calling the international attitude towards Kashmir problem as ‘apparent timidity encoded’ in diplomacy he finds three factors responsible for the ‘indifference’ of world powers towards Kashmir. He writes: 

 “This passivity in the face of a willful defiance of the demands of peace and stability would look quite demeaning if it were not for three covering factors:

First, the Kashmir dispute has persisted for more than six decades and, put it simply, the world has become used to it.
Second, the United Nations has been marginalized during the last two decades with the consequence that the Charter is beginning to be looked upon as almost an antique. What originated as a clarion call for decency in international behavior is now a faintly audible murmur.

Third, callousness, if not outright cynicism, has become the reserve fund of diplomacy. A blindness to human reality is reflected in the vocabulary employed when situations of international conflict are talked about. Two adjectives used when an indirect reference (a direct reference, mind you, would be frowned upon by India) is made to Kashmir: the adjectives: ‘historical” and ‘long-standing’. Factually, the adjectives are not wrong. But they come handy because by drawing a curtain over reality, they provide a moral justification for studied inaction.”

stensibly   there have not been any significant changes that could prompt the resolution of Kashmir. The factors identified by Buch persisting, the question then arises; what then makes many conflict resolution experts and opinion makers believe that Kashmir is now peaceable, or strategic experts to feel the urgency of resolving this issue.

The belief Kashmir is now peaceable originates from the dramatic fall in violence after two decades armed insurgency in the strategically important state bordering China, Afghanistan, Russia, India and Pakistan. The state with number of armed insurgents having come down from over thirty five thousand during nineties to two hundred and odd has wide opened ‘a window of opportunity for India and Pakistan’ to resolve this dispute. Many an international expert believe that Kashmir is far more peaceful than Pakistan, Afghanistan and many Indian states caught up in the Maoist insurgency. 

Kashmir is peaceable was the dominant belief at a Symposium ‘Grounding Kashmir’ in Stanford University, USA. The Seminar was moderated by Dr. Suvir Kaul Professor of English Literature University of Pennsylvania. ‘The   event had brought lot of South Asian scholars from different parts of the world. Most interesting feature of the seminar was that compared to Pakistan Indian scholars were greater in number.’ Kashmir problem and its global dimensions have in fact become most sought after subject after Afghanistan and Palestine in many American Universities. Seminars in more than three Universities were reported in the month of February only.  

Similar views resonated on Friday at another seminar “Defending Will of People” during the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The Seminar was moderated by Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai Executive Director Kashmiri American Council. The seminar was organized by Los Angeles-based ‘International Educational Development’ and was jointly sponsored by ‘Association of Humanitarian Lawyers’, ‘International Human Rights Association of American Minorities’, ‘International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations" ‘World Muslim Congress’, AHRKI, KMMK-G.    The seminar in Geneva had brought together Dr. Karen Parker, IED Delegate to the United Nations; Dr. Ahmed Abdellatti, IIFSO, Secretary General; Mr. Mohmaad Abdel Wahid Ghanem, Exiled Leader, Egypt; Dr. Waleed Albanany, Al-Nahda Movement, Tunisia; Mr. Logman Ahmadi, Congress of Nationalities for the Federated Iran; Mr. Amjad Yousuf, Kashmir Institute of International Relations; Dr. Ayman Ahmed Ali, Egypt; Mr. Ali S. Khan, Executive Director, Kashmiri Scandinavian Council, Norway and Barrister Majid Tramboo, Executive Director, Kashmir Center, Brussels and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Chairman All Parties Hurriyat Conference Kashmir.

Many experts like Professor Richard Bonney believe that despite end of violence having opened a window of opportunity for India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir issue, New Delhi as such has been dampening the opportunity by not grabbing it. It is yet another question if New Delhi is really working as dampener or not but important question that calls for a discussion is if Kashmir was now really that urgent to be resolved and what makes it so urgent. Couple of reasons has been identified by internationally acclaimed scholars that make resolution of this sixty three year old dispute urgent:
One, Kashmir having emerged as a dangerous nuclear flashpoint because of three nuclear powers India, Pakistan and China entangled in it.

Two, it having emerged as gateway to peace in Afghanistan and a key factor for overall stability of South Asia.
Third, China’s proactive Kashmir policy and evincing greater interest in Kashmir problem than its border dispute with India in North East.

The issue “How the Kashmir Dispute Affects Security in South Asia” has not been nagging the British think tanks like RUSI that debated it thoroughly at recently held conference in White Hall London but  it has been most favored subject with American South Asia experts. Many American scholars including those friendly with New Delhi have been expressing urgency for resolution of the Kashmir. The subject has caused   another book India-Pakistan: Continued Conflict or Cooperation by Stanley Wolpert.  The author who has written   number of books on the sub-continent including biographies of Quaid-e-Azam Ali Muhammad Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is not only an authority on history of the region but fully well understands the nuances and complexity of the Kashmir dispute. Writing that ‘No Asian conflict has proved more deadly, costly, or intractable than that which continues to divide India and Pakistan over Kashmir’ he has identified the dangers that non resolution of this problem pose to India and Pakistan and to the region as such.  He writes that the story of Kashmir is a collision of many years of wrongs; the results have been no less tragic.

Ambassador Howard Schaffer, author of Limits of Influence holds the view that ‘the unsettled Kashmir dispute poses a potentially serious threat to the expanding interests the United States now has in South Asia. Any conflict between India and Pakistan sparked by the dispute could escalate into a catastrophic nuclear war. Pakistan’s critical role since September 11, 2001, in shaping the future of Afghanistan has given the issue a further major dimension.” Recognizing the fragility of this problem Schaffer has been holding the view “And until a settlement is reached, there will be no dearth of "spoilers" eager for opportunities to inflame India-Pakistan relations. So are the views of yet another American Daniel Markey a Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations has also been articulating that non resolution of Kashmir problem has been posing to global stability. “Indo-Pak tensions are especially dangerous because they bring two nuclear states toe-to-toe” he wrote in July 2010 because they distract Islamabad from the urgent task of combating terrorists and militants on its own soil; and they contribute to Pakistani suspicions about India’s activities in Afghanistan. Thus, the long-standing dispute over Kashmir is one part of a wider regional dynamic that has direct implications for Washington’s ability to support a stable Afghan state and to address the threat posed by terrorist groups in South Asia.”

The question arises that if the thinking that is prevailing with South Asian experts and scholars around the world translates into the policy of the global powers and they work in real sense for bringing in peace and stability to the region.

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