In India no one person owns responsibility or can do so to stimulate interest in solving conflicts like Kashmir without a risk to their position in office. Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar admits that politicians in India are unaware of realities in Kashmir. As soon as a crisis surfaces in Kashmir all attention is given to relations with Pakistan and tit for tat saber rattling makes news, either on borders or killing each others’ prisoners in inhuman ways. Geneva Convention 1949 and Protocol 1 of 1977 to which both India and Pakistan are committed as signatories’ states in clear words that prisoners held in war or for political reasons must never be a target for reprisals. It is a cowardly act. Public cannot be fooled by making the recent lethal attacks on prisoners as chance events. There may be diatribe on Kashmir between India and Pakistan traipsing over obstacle in bilateralism but that must not reflect in killing prisoners.
The artifact of democracy that can tear down a nation is callous disregard for life and dignity of citizens. As an example it works like a safe bet for politicians to propagate the inflexible stated policy on Kashmir and allow people to suffer. On the other hand a dictator ruling India would negotiate the best deal for his nation and make it work. The later scenario built round Kashmir would inevitably assess long term strategy and cost involved in keeping hold of an erosive asset. It may be argued that India in its present structure of relationship is over all a loser in Kashmir. A massive canopy of defense, expensive maintenance of surrogate governance that holds fort for them will dock resources that the country needs. I am reminded of a statement an army officer made to a reporter that fully aware that he can be dead any time on the Saichen glacier he will make that sacrifice to defend his country. Is the country correct in risking his life? The question remains.
One strong shortfall that impedes progress in reconciliation with people is arrogance. In exemplifying the point, MP Aiyer rejected the idea of collective conscious given as a reason to reject appeal for Afzal Guru hanging. That was arrogance and this attitude runs across all dealings with people of Kashmir, be it imposition of laws or instruments of governance. How are people expected to react? As seen over six decades rule the strained relationship is becoming precarious on a sliding scale. After all this time today at slightest provocation people open their shirt buttons ready to receive punishment. There must be a sense of hidden aggravation in their souls. MP Aiyer an astute observer thinks people of Kashmir have a belief that it is army that rules them. It is in no one’s interest to stand-still on a rocking boat, the boat itself will throw them overboard.
Kashmir is a weak link in foreign affairs and contingencies arise with territorial incursions. Territorial integrity violated by China taking a further slice of 18 kilometers in Daulat Beg Oldi from the mother soil of Kashmir is a blatant violation of rights of a nation. International law has sanctions against such violations. Article 73 of United Nations Charter offers protection from incursions and the caretaker member (India) in Kashmir is bound to ensure furtherance of security of the territory it controls and expedite retrieval of territories the State of Jammu & Kashmir has lost including, Oldi, Karakorum or Gilgit and Baltistan. This is a binding law and entitles people of the State to argue for self-determination in the event of loss of territory. Kashmir is a small nation and has been reduced to a diminutive existence by powerful incursions and even its mountains have been occupied. Kashmir is in India’s fold and as signatories of ICCPR (1966) Article 13, India is under obligation to expel any alien that violates Kashmir and claims rights of title to that territory. People have a right to register protest and demand restoration of their historical title to all its lands lost by military incursions in lieu of UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 usurping land by aggression. It authorizes any means including force to vacate aggression detailed in Chapter VII of the Charter.
In a manifest appraisal of the drama what transpires between the countries on the borders of Kashmir is an atmosphere of cold war rhetoric popping up and still pervading political upheaval. Timed with these deliberations are an increase number of LoC violations, cross border mortar fire and according to Indian security agencies 300 militants are ready to cross LoC into Kashmir. People talk about imponderables like impending regime change in Pakistan or the fall out of Afghanistan politics on the subcontinent that may affect relations or throw out the balance of the security equilibrium between India and Pakistan. One imponderable I may add is the hubris of nuclear war looming over like a cloud.
Jammu & Kashmir conflict is in animated suspension that renders it vulnerable. The dispute has occupied multitude of documents on peace and security in South Asia written in literature form and accessible in annals all over the word. The emphasis has been on a solution that incorporates the organic masses, will have a built in structure for security on all its borders and is nurtured with impartiality from without. Most epistemic think-tanks in India use foundational facts of the conflict to validate their opinions on the exigency it deserves. It is very unfortunate that Kashmir is caught in a morass of obdurate political posturing. They forget the people and look at the mountains of Kashmir, if ever a jolt for a resolution is received.
(The author can be contacted at majidsirajuk@ yahoo.com )