Will we ever allow peace a chance in Kashmir?

Colonel R Hariharan

The answer to this question is a simple “no”, if we look at all the smoke and thunder generated by Pakistan at home and abroad and even in the UN Security Council after the Kashmiri militant leader Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter.

There are many reasons Pakistan chose to react so strongly with a grim-faced prime minister Nawaz Sharif describing Burhan as martyr of the Kashmiri independence movement at a special cabinet meeting.

He termed the movement of the Kashmiris as a movement of freedom and said Pakistan would continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris in their just struggle for the right to self determination.

Also read: Nawaz Sharif, please look within Pakistan before talking about Kashmir

And the Pakistan cabinet decided to observe July 19 as Black Day to register its concern.

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Civilians clash with the security forces in Kashmir.

Even the hanging of Indian Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, decidedly a more prominent Kashmiri personality, evoked less strident comments from then Pakistan president Asif Zardari. He said “The abuse of the judicial process has further aggravated and angered the people of Kashmir.”

The protest against Gurus death sentence saw communists coming out in support. The Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) even exploded a bomb on 7 September, 2011 outside the Delhi High Court killing 17 people.

Then why did Pakistan decide to raise all the heat and dust over Burhan’s killing?

Also read – Kashmir: Let down by leaders, united in neglect

The major internal factor encouraging Pakistan is Jammu and Kashmir’s unnatural ruling coalition of PDP and BJP formed to keep out Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and Congress from power.

With vague clichs for goals it has been meandering from crisis to crisis, small and big.

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti never seemed comfortable with the alliance. This was visible after her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died.

She took too long to cogitate before deciding to continue with the alliance, showing a lack of confidence in her own political skills. Her father a past master in politics had deftly cobbled up the alliance with BJP.

Perhaps the dissonance between the partners is showing up in their inability to take decisive action when separatist elements egged on by Pakistan take advantage of popular protests to escalate them into crisis situations.

The chief minister faced the first major crisis at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Srinagar when non-Kashmiri students objected to Kashmiris pitching for West Indies and applauding India’s defeat in the semi-final of the World T20 in April 2016.

The non-locals wanted the NIT to be relocated when Kashmiris objected to the hoisting of the national flag. It became a confrontation with the waving of the Pakistani flag and calls of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” versus “Hum kya chahte, azadi” renting the air. Police were called in and they lathi-charged the non-Kashmiri group.

The state government looked on helplessly as a local incident was blown up into a national and international one, till New Delhi intervened.

Two weeks later, rumours of an army man molesting a school girl provoked a mob of 500 protestors to surround the army post at Handwara Chowk threatening to burn it down.

Though the girl denied such an incident took place and video coverage confirmed it, the state government meekly gave in to the mobs demand and asked the army to shift the post. The girl later gave a statement before the DM that it was local youth who molested her.

And an army post that denied free passage to infiltrators from Pakistan for decades was given up.

And now the handling of the Burhan episode by the Mehbooba government has provided the meat for Pakistan to appear as the saviour of the Kashmiris.

Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba’s predecessor, perhaps in a moment of contrition over a similar but bigger crisis he faced in 2010, gave some advice to the chief minister.

When he was the chief minister, 116 young protestors were shot dead in the summer of 2010 that caused his defeat in 2014.

He said, “Mehbooba Mufti has made the same mistake as me. I went into a shell and she has also withdrawn into a shell. The first 24-48 hours are crucial. That is when people need see and hear you.

“She should have at least come on television and appealed for calm but she seems to have retreated into a shell when she was needed to be seen and heard.”

It seems Pakistan is preparing to go for the jugular as weak governance and political indecisiveness seem to prevail in Jammu and Kashmir.

We can expect more crisis situations in the coming days in the state. I am not too confident the mismatched pair ruling the state will do any better as the Centre also seems to be equally inept in handling crises.

But there should be no illusions about Pakistans interest in the Kashmir issue.

For India, the only outstanding issue is to reunite the two halves of Kashmir severed by Pakistan.

But not for Pakistan; there it’s different strokes for different folks.

All the Black Day shindig in Pakistan and Nawaz Sahib sporting a long face over the “martyrdom” of Kashmiris should not obfuscate the question: does Pakistan really want freedom for Kashmir?

Pakistan regularly talks about implementing the UN resolution on Kashmir and carrying out a plebiscite. But it is only for the people of the state to choose between India and Pakistan. It is not for the “freedom” of Kashmir. There is no third choice.

In spite of this, “azadi” (freedom) is the chant of Pakistan flag-waving mobs. Can there be greater dishonesty in protest?

Forget about India, will Pakistan ever concede freedom for the part of Kashmir it controls?

Never; not even as a ploy to gain moral authority to force India to follow suit for creating a unified, independent Kashmir State. Because it is not in its agenda.

Pakistan’s problems with Kashmir are much more than its heart bleeding for Kashmiris.

For the Pakistan army, it is a war of thousand cuts to bleed India – it doesn’t matter if Kashmiris also bleed in the process – to avenge its decisive defeat in the 1971 war against the Indian army.

For Pakistan politicians, Kashmir is a rallying call to enrich their vote banks.

For elected governments, it is an opioid to distract the masses from the myriad problems of Pakistan.

For the masses who dreamt of Pakistan as a pan-Islamic nation carved out of South Asia, Kashmir is a reminder of the failed dream. This is more so after the East Pakistan cut loose to become Bangladesh, aided by Indians.

So why would Pakistan ever want “aman” (peace) in Kashmir?

Even if you give Kashmir on a platter to Pakistan, it will continue with its unfinished agenda, at least till the army calls the shots on how the country deals with India.

But whatever be the situation or conflict, ultimately it is the Kashmiri people who bear the brunt.

As a nation we simply cannot afford such a state of affairs.

Finding an acceptable solution is going to be difficult in Kashmir; perhaps the time has come now for Prime Minister Modi to get into the act.

He needs to summon all his political and strategic acumen, think out of the box and dirty his hands, to work it out.

 

Extracted fromdailyo

 

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