Two news items are in pipeline—re-designing nomenclature of JK State and status of article 370. 3rd June news item appeared in economic times.india times, relating that, and ‘The Narendra Modi government plans to signal a strategic shift in its approach to Jammu & Kashmir by re-designating the part of the northern territory that’s under the control of Pakistan. The plan is to call it Pakistan Occupied Jammu-Kashmir (PoJK) rather than Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to ensure a unified approach toward the state’. The move could hardly be called innocuous. No space is left to invoke Shakespeare, who did say—what is in a name? This one is different, as it is sinister, a red alert, an alarm that needs to be taken seriously and resisted.
Re-designing JK would be an exercise in futility. ‘K’ issue is ‘K’ dominant, though not ‘J’ recessive. Dichotomies however minor need to be respected and assimilated, the buck stops there. They may not rough or override the dominant sentiment. On one side of LoC it is Jammu & Kashmir State. Pakistan likes to call it Indian occupied part. On the other side Pakistan administered Kashmir is called-Azad Jammu & Kashmir [AJK] Indians like to call it PoK. Jammu being integral to the issue is accepted across the divide. International community however denominates cross LoC divide as Indian/Pakistan administered Kashmir.
Re-designing northern territories of erstwhile JK state is a different ball game. In Karakorum Range, in yesteryears three Empires met-British India, Russia and China, India is now a republic, so is China. Russia is not in equation any more, Pakistan has moved in. There is a Trans Karakorum mountainous highway; blueprints of a rail track remain in news. Karakorum Highway to Gwadar Port has Chinese footprints all over. Enroute is Chashma atomic plant, where China is putting in additional facilities. Continuous delay in ‘K’ resolution is bringing in new players in the equation, result of intransigent stands. It is time to introspect, rather than play the denomination game.
Jammu & Kashmir stands defined as a state for the last 168 years, ever since 1846 A.D. This was the year when Dogra Rajas of Jammu, tributaries of Khalsa Durbar of Lahore deserted their long term benefactor-Maharaja Ranjit Singh by conniving with British against Ranjit’s consort-dowager Maharani Jinda’n and her minor son-Dilip Singh in Anglo-Sikh war. This was another black chapter in history of Dogra Shahi. Acquisition of Kashmir by a sale deed-Bainama Amritsar made Maharaja of Gulab Singh, until then the Raja of Jammu Rajwada—merely a tributary of Khalsa Durbar. Rather than be called Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, Dogra ruler prided to be called Maharaja of Kashmir, motorcades carried similar denomination. The name gave them a status much beyond their wildest dreams. However, tyranny remained their preferred method to rule Kashmir.
Dogra Shahi—the rule of infamous autocracy had however the outfall of jelling of people across Pir Panchal—Kashmiris and Dogras, though distinct in identity and culture. Autocracy being Dogra was incidental, a historical play that may not be used as a ploy to promote dissent. Disputed ‘K’ status includes Jammu, Ladakh as well. Hence, neither the internal state mechanism nor the disputed international status would allow trifurcation or making any part of the state, a Union territory. Kashmir has had a conditional accession to the Union, it did not merge. Hence, any effort to merge a part of state with the Union of India would be in gross contradiction of conditional accession. In promoting devious alternative strategies, certain parameters of ‘K’ status and situation stand sidelined.
Kashmir is greater than it is presumed to be. On either side of two mountainous divides-Pir Panchal and Zojila there might be a minor element of dichotomy, which is used to promote dissent in the dominant sentiment of an overwhelming majority of JK State. There is nevertheless an element of uniformity. Kashmiri speaking people sharing the language and many cultural traits of the valley are living on other side of Pir Panchal. Many of them were original valleyites. They chose to make their home and hearth across Pir Panchal, over centuries of interaction. However, the powers that be would like to arm the state with provisions—legal or otherwise to override the overwhelming majority factor. And rough the dominant sentiment by state driven dominant discourse. Any such attempts would be a recipe for violence and it would weaken the peace constituency in the state. Kashmir desires and deserves a peaceful resolution of conflict; much blood has already been shed. Not only has the blood of Kashmiris been shed, but of people across the subcontinental divide. Muscle flexing and jingoistic nationalistic slogans stand in the way of poverty alleviation-a stark reality of subcontinent. Shinning urban pockets, across the divide are few and far between.
Article 370—a word on it, Delhi and Srinagar agree that it is temporary, nuances of temporary status being a constitutional bridge to workout Delhi-Srinagar relations until expression of self determination as per the international agreement, the vehicle of expression being plebiscite. Even while politicians and diplomats in New Delhi know the nuances of temporary denomination, masses have been led to believe that being temporary, it is removable. Masses in JK State being in midst of attempted re-designing, feeling the heat of it, know the glaring fact. One can but hope and pray that better senses prevail.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]