Let there be no doubt that normalized relations between India and Pakistan offer , tremendous benefits & incentives to the Global community. But normalization is itself subject to settlement of core issue of Kashmir between them. Indo-Pak tensions are especially dangerous because they bring two nuclear states face to face and any conflict between the two countries sparked by the dispute could escalate into a catastrophic nuclear war. 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 Global community’s ability to support a stable Afghan state and to address the threat posed by extremist groups in South Asia.
For Kashmir, the conflict has been a great tragedy and a disaster in all respects: a large death toll, unabated human rights abuses which in normal course qualify as crimes against humanity or war crimes, displacement of populations, a devastated economy, serious environmental damage, massive military buildup, and severe psychological distress. Above all peoples lack of trust & confidence in the local political system put in place by the Indian Govt. And for India Kashmir has been a patient with incurable disease from day one which it manages by shifting alternatively between Intensive care unit (ICU) and general ward depending upon the seriousness of the situation at particular point of time and where the job of the Local attending doctors (Politicians) is limited only to report the situation and take instructions of medicines & diet from New-Delhi. No serious attempt is made for a permanent cure of this patient except throwing billions of rupees in a bottomless pit.
But the big question-Is global community doing enough to address the issue? While US and its surrogates are busy in creating new tensions & disorders in the world, existing long pending disputes like Kashmir & Palestine are hardly attended to. As far as Kashmir is concerned, though the US treats the territory as disputed but its State Department, reportedly treats the Indian repression there as “an internal Indian matter”. A former senior CIA officer, Robert Grenier, sometime back, called this posture by the Obama administration “craven”. When one contrasts this with the legitimate interest that the US showed in human rights in Arab states, and the consequent action it took, one loses all faith in protestations of moral concern underlying American policies and attitudes. And by the way what are the demands of the people of Kashmir for which they are brutalized day in & day out -a right to vote in a plebiscite promised long ago – The same right which the America claims to support in other parts of the world.
But the recent discourse initiated by Norwegian parliament offers a new ray of hope. It has urged for an early solution to the Kashmir conflict. During discussions, Chairman of the Norwegian Parliamentary Kashmir Committee and Christian Democratic party leader Knut Arild Hareide referred to Kashmir as a regressive wound in the relationship between India & Pakistan and a continuing tragedy for the Kashmiri people. It surely is a comfort to know that the dispute has the attention of European nations.
A mention, in this context, also needs to be made of recent conference held in Islamabad where Mr. V.P.Vaidik an eminent journalist & political thinker (also chairman of Council for Indian Foreign Policy), mooted the idea of total demilitarization of both sides of Kashmir. “Pughwash” is also holding a two day conference in Islamabad starting on 4th July 2013. The event would be drawing regional and international conflict resolution experts, diplomats, besides political elite from both parts of Kashmir, from Pakistan, India, USA, and Britain. In Srinagar, a meaningful lecture was delivered by Praful Bidwai, a noted columnist and political analyst (Also Founder member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace)on the occasion of release of 10th Volume of Aina-Numa. In his assessment of the things, if India & Pakistan fail to find a solution to the Kashmir issue anytime soon and Indian repression & suppression continues in Kashmir , the whole of South Asia runs the risk of being turned into a nuclear dust because of a lurking danger of a nuclear war between two Countries. In his opinion the two Countries came very close to such a catastrophe twice during Kargil war. Recent reports also suggest that both the countries have increased their nuclear warheads in 2012 roughly by 10% over the previous year( see Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report).
So India, Pakistan & the Global Community need to take a fresh look at Kashmir. Like a festering wound that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light. Injustice must be exposed and options of a final settlement discussed & explored. The global community can ignore the problem at its own peril. If Kashmiris have been suffering for decades, it may take only minutes for the whole world to suffer & suffer irretrievably.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at email@example.com)