The loud cries about the fifth war on Kashmir breaking up any time between India and Pakistan are no more just confined to the television studios, and the election rallies in India addressed by BJP leaders including the prime minister. Nonetheless, these are now part of international discourse.
Saturday morning, I woke up to many a disturbing news on the grapevine. From the Masjid door to long waiting at the bakers’ shop for hot loaves of traditional bread, lots of news about frightening rattling of aeroplanes and helicopters from 2 A.M in Srinagar, deployment of hundreds of additional companies’ of paramilitary troops in Kashmir to the mid-night crackdown on the cadres of the Jamat-e-Islamia and other organization was making rounds.
‘Is something worse than what has been happening in Kashmir in stock and what could it be’ this query was on the lips of all and sundry. The wild guessing narrowed down to a few broader topics: That another war over Kashmir between India and Pakistan could start any time now on. That these could be preparatory moves for removing the article 35-A which works as a shield for the 1927- State Subject Law in the Constitution of India, these could be run-up for the abrogation of the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and some stretched it further to the trifurcation of the state. Most of these wild speculations had their genesis in the maddening discourses coming out of scores of television studios round the clock. But, for the historical reasons, it is not the war cries that bother Kashmiris as threateningly as the calls for fiddling with their identity and changing the demography of the state coming out of the right-wing party headquarters and ultra-nationalist television channel studios. The citizens of the state overwhelmingly see it as an existential threat- more dangerous a threat than suffered during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Gary Saxena twice Governor of the state during the nineties and the former RAW chief had rightly summed it up, “Kashmiris are essentially survivors. They had seen tough times when Afghan, Sikh ruled them. They were at receiving ends. But the general culture is secular, and they have their own identity.”
The loud cries about the fifth war on Kashmir breaking up any time between India and Pakistan are no more just confined to the television studios, and the election rallies in India addressed by BJP leaders including the prime minister. Nonetheless, these are now part of international discourse. President Donald Trump on Friday noon made it known that Washington was concerned about the situation brewing up between India and Pakistan. Talking to reporters, he said, “right now between Pakistan and India, there is a very, very bad situation. A very dangerous situation.” He also indicated the US and others are trying to defuse the situation.’ Since 1948, when New Delhi took the Jammu and Kashmir Dispute to the Security Council, the United States has been at the centre of the Kashmir narrative, and after every war, it had brokered peace between the neighbouring countries. The 1965 war was the only exception when Washington had loathed, and Moscow had taken the call, and Prime Minister Kosygin had offered his good offices to work for a settlement between the two countries- the result was Tashkent declaration. It was Bill Clinton who prevented the two countries from the disaster of a nuclear war in 1999.
That both India and Pakistan, throughout history after every war had accepted third-party mediation is not subject of this column- what I am trying to articulate is that war has not been a solution of problems between counties and it cannot be a solution.
History testifies that the four wars fought between the two countries neither resolved nor dissolved the Kashmir problem. Nonetheless, they ended up in international and bilateral agreements that identified tracks for solving the Kashmir Dispute through peaceful means including two-way dialogue. To recapitulate, the entire history of all the wars fought by the two countries and the diplomacy, agreements for peace and settlement of the outstanding problem that followed these wars may not be possible in this column. Nevertheless, it would be in the interest of ensuring lasting peace in the region and for finding a peaceful solution of the Kashmir make a brief mention of the wars fought and the agreements after that signed by the two countries.
The Poonch rebellion against the Maharaja Hari Singh, joined by the Afaradis and other tribal culminated into the first war between India and Pakistan- and this was the longest war that two countries in Kashmir. On 27 October 1947, troops from New Delhi landed at Srinagar. On 30 October, Pakistan declared Maharaja’s accession to India a ‘fraud and violence.’ On 1 January 1948, India filed a complaint against Pakistan in the Security Council and asked the Council ‘to call upon Pakistan to stop aiding the invaders.’ On 13 August 1948, UNCIP adopted elaborate three-part resolution followed by 5 January 1949 resolution. This resolution that was supported by the Karachi Agreement of 1949 signed by army commanders of the two countries provided a comprehensive peaceful mechanism for settlement of the problem. Had not Jawaharlal Nehru 1 November 1947 rejected the three-point formula of Jinnah, Kashmir would not have become an international problem. Similarly had, the mechanism provided by the UNSC been followed the future wars between the two nations would not have happened. The UNSC did not stop at identifying the path to a peaceful settlement of the Dispute, but it sent one after another envoy for finding a solution of Kashmir outside the United Nations through a dialogue between the two countries.
The second war between India and Pakistan was fought in 1965. In the 17 day war, who was winner and loser or there was no winner is subject for military historians. The Tashkent Declaration followed this war. It made no direct reference to Kashmir but came up with an ‘ambiguous formulation that the two sides will continue meeting both at highest and other levels on matters of immediate concern.’ The 1965 war too did not dissolve the Kashmir but took a toll of the Ayub Khan government.
The third war was fought in 1971, and Kashmir was not the direct cause of this war. Pakistan was the biggest loser in this war, it got dismembered- and the birth of Bangladesh was denounced as the defeat of Jinnah’s two nation theory. A section of bureaucracy very close to Mrs Gandhi wanted to use the opportunity for dissolving the Kashmir dispute- it did not happen. The countries signed the 1972 Shimla Agreement that explicitly talked about a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir through bilateral negotiations or any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon by the two counties. And the agreement also “without prejudice recognised position of either side.”
The battle in the rugged mountains of Kargil in 1999 was the fourth war that the neighbouring counties fought in their 52 birth anniversary. Both India and Pakistan have their versions about the battle- who won or who lost is again subject for the military historian. Nonetheless, this battle made a world conscious that South Asia was on a short-fuse of a nuclear war but for intervention by Washington world was saved from a nuclear disaster. Exhibiting statesmanship Atal Bihari Vajpayee sent a letter to Pakistan president to meet at Agra on 15 and 16 July 2001. In an article on the New Year eve, he had emphasised the need for addressing the Kashmir issue. But, for L.K. Advani “disrupting” the process eight years back a solid foundation would have been laid for peace in the region. The failure in Agra did not either stop Vajpayee nor Musharraf from striving for finding an amicable settlement of Kashmir problem. More than often we are told by that privy to dialogue between the two countries there was a lot for forwarding movement for an agreement. Let me reiterate if Vajpayee could not resolve the disputes, but he gave ten years of comparative peace to people of the region along the LOC- and had equally brightened hopes for peace in the region.
The history of wars fought by the two countries should make us wiser- instead of raising war cries for another war let leaders of the two countries work for peace in the region.