In this article I have tried not to be biased, I am stating this foremost as the issue is critical for both the countries India and Pakistan and the most critical for the residents of Kashmir itself. At the ongoing state when both the countries and its media are being biased, the history students are taught in the schools has been distorted to suit their own missions, each is filled with hatred for the other and the picture for the other is portrayed as a staunch and the only enemy. As a student of IIM I strongly feel an urge to resolve the issue at its earliest so that other matter of importance related to the growth of both the countries and that of the region involved could be focused upon.
Until the end of this article I want my readers to hold onto this thought “Pain will come with time, but time will heal the pain”.
Here I have discussed briefly about the history of Kashmir conflict, and later have discussed about a possible solution to the issue which could be implemented with a strong government in action and support from the citizens of the country.
A very brief History of Kashmir
Since independence the relationship between the two newly formed states had been strenuous with the issue of Kashmir at its center. India’s claim on Kashmir with respect to the signing of annexure by the then king of Kashmir Hari Singh is more legal, while Pakistan’s claim based on the majority of population being Muslim is logical. Since past 60 years of independence and three wars of 1965, 1971 and Kargil had not resulted in any stunning output. The current region of Jammu and Kashmir is been divided into 3 segments: IoK (which includes area of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley), PoK (which includes the north-western part, azad Kashmir) and area of Aksai-chin and the part above it in the dominance of China.
Figure: Showing ownership in different parts of Kashmir
Post the results of 1962 war between India and China, Pakistan in 1963 saw it easy to cede the land on trans-karakoram tract to China to avoid any conflict and this caused rising concerns with Indian security. The economic trade that established between the two countries also pushed the war of 1965 and 1971. To see the Indo-China border issues read this.
Kashmir is the much chewed topic across the globe
Not just for India and Pakistan but the issue is discussed as international political case in foreign universities as well. Also nationals from both these countries are required to be aware that there are other counties who earns from the sale of ammunition and weapons and for these reasons will fuel the issue every now and then. There are numerous articles and blogs pointing to the issue and you will find several comments filled with national emotions and prejudices. From the several proposed solution on internet I would like to comment on the two largely discussed solutions.
- Solution 1: Merging Kashmir wholly with either India or Pakistan
Much to the critic, this solution is the most in-feasible of all. After standing on guard for years to protect the territory from further invasion, with so much of yearly investment going for the development and military facility in the area, I strongly doubt either of the side would be interested to give their holding part to the other.
Also Kashmir stands as of strategic importance to India with respect to security concern in the advent of a war. Without holding of Kashmir and its high peak point areas it would be totally vulnerable to the joint efforts of its two neighboring rivals China and Pakistan. While for Pakistan Kashmir its “k” is the source of its existence and could not let go of it.
- Solution 2: Making Kashmir as an independent state
These solution on the face of it seems to be the best, considering the demand of the Kashmiri people and their peace requirement. Also the state will serve as the buffer between the two enemy states. But here the question regarding its preservation of freedom arises. With the three powerful and nuclear weapons equipped states surrounding it, this solution may seem to fail. It could not be made sure of Pakistan not repeating history and may not again attack Kashmir like in 1947. Also there is no guarantee from Chinese expansion, it may somehow find some clues of its historical claim on Kashmir and might send its forces in the area (as it is common with regard to Chinese expansion policy). With respect to the moves of these countries India too have to be ready for its security. Also the same arguments as pointed out in point 1 holds in this case as well.
Therefore in my opinion though the solution seems pleasing on paper I strongly doubt on its implementation and sustainance prospect.
Proposed solution for Kashmir issue
After a thorough thought the following proposal is recommended, for the implementation of this solution and for it to go successful, it is must that the leader is not light hearted and be ready to face revolts and grudges initially but in the long run glory would surely follow. It also requires a deep understanding and trust from the people of the country.
Acceptance of current LOC: With Indian ideology of peace and its defensive stand plus it is never possible to expect Pakistan to hand over the PoK area to India, so it is wise to accept the current LOC as an international boundary without any further delay. It may receive no from Pakistan, but the Indian side should be sure with the decision and keep pressing UN to resolve the matter at the soonest. Any more bilateral talks are not going to yield any solution.
Removal of article 370: Even in the case the LOC is not accepted bilaterally, the second step should be the removal of article 370. This would be not acceptable to many of the Kashmiri politicians as it takes away control from them. It is but obvious to expect riots and involvement of terrorist activities but the Indian government should be ready to counter any such moves. I do not understand why the Kashmiri people do not want it removed and still complaint about their under-growth. With so much of Indian government support and investment going to Kashmir they are still far away from satisfied. Atleast removal of this article 370 would give some fresh air for growth.
Removal of article 370 is a must in the current context. With the other part of India growing at a tremendous pace it is much awaited that the part of J&K be made open for trade to flourish there. Let the builders then the corporates move in the region, it not only ensures flourishing of tourism industry but also opens doors for jobs in the region. More number of schools and colleges would open and this will ensure spread of education. The article was meant to be for a temporary time period when it was kept in force and the time is ripe when it is abolished. Still the special status through reservations for the local people be kept in this institutions. This will entail the people from Kashmir to feel oneness with the remaining part of the country.
The number of standing army would remain same as of now for the security concern and to curb any internal riots that may arise. Also the army and local police would be responsible to see that peace is maintained with the opening of trade.
Concern of ratio imbalance: The next concern is the question of merging with Pakistan due to unequal ratio of non-Muslims and Muslims. India is a secular state based upon the ideology of democracy and equal right to all. Still it cannot compromise on the security of the whole nation in lieu of respecting the wish of certain majority of a region. This may seem harsh, but the reality is it is more difficult to honor everyone’s wish when they are contradictory and requires compromise for a larger chunk. Measures to equalize ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims to be taken. For this rehabilitate Kashmiri Brahmins back to their homes, also opening up of the area for investments will bring other community members in the region thus helping in balancing out the population ratio.
Threat from anti nationals: It is possible that anti-Indians may try to induce negative sentiments against this move and there is always a fear of a war on head, but there is always a possibility for it in that part of the country. If it is this time then be it for the last time. With Pakistan getting nuclear equipped as well doesn’t make a difference. In case of a nuclear war, destruction would be on both the sides more on the other side indeed. I do understand it is easier said than done, but since past 60 years the amount of money that had been spent in the safeguard and military could have been utilized in productive growth and also for a matter of fact no one can for sure answer if the situation is kept unaltered till how long will it take for any change to happen. So I am suggesting here for a one time solution of it. In any case this chances of war should be less, as India is anyhow dealing and amending on IoK part of Kashmir which should not hamper or affect any other country.
There would be threat from Hurriyat (the existence of it is a question, argument is there it is being funded by the US peace party leaded by an ex Pakistan foreign ministry), but these could be controlled by taking the residents of Kashmir in confidence first. Making them aware that it was their own growth and prosperity in the long run, it this is not conveyed then still I would insist the government to be ready to tackle the menace.
Ruling party concern: In respect to the impact on the ruling party for support, the 2014 elections have already shown that you do not require a support of regional majority to win. Also I suggest to implement any such solution in the first year of your party coming in force, this gives time for the people of the country to see the positive effects that this changes brings.
Kashmir is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and the residents of it are more beautiful and kind than that. It is time that India unites and strive to bring peace and happiness in the lives of our fellow Indians residing in Kashmir. Let them embrace us and let us embrace them.