Kashmir – When History & Geography conflict!

While in school, I liked History as a subject. “King Ashoka planted trees and built lakes! Akbar founded and practiced his own religion – Din Illahi! And so on.  All these were interesting! But those days, my common refrain was, “What is the utility of us studying all these and remembering the years, the place and all that now? How is this going to help me in my life in the future?” While that was History, Geography was perennially boring. Remembering the names of countries, rivers, forests, mountains, cities, their latitudes and longitudes was all a torture. Little did I realise then, that the legacy of history has a long shadow on geography. Hence it becomes mandatory as students to get the perspectives right on History and Geography.  World over, eventually Geo-political conflicts are all about history!  Kashmir is no different.

Right since Independence, Kashmir has been a complex problem. Any proposal/s for solving this always come with insistence of it being a complex problem due to mistakes made by India in the past as per commentators. For many decades, the feeling in our country has been to maintain a status quo on Kashmir. In the wake of the last week’s dastardly attack in Pulwama on our security forces, it is clear that status quo is not the answer.

There are always different schools of thought around solutions ranging from military solution to political solution to diplomatic solution to combination of some of these or all. And frankly most of these have been tried in the past by different Governments of different parties when they got an opportunity to govern India. From Indira Gandhi to Rajiv to Narasimha Rao to Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh to now Narendra Modi, it is not for want of trying, this issue is not resolved. All have attempted in the past to crack the Kashmir code with sometimes the same or slightly different approaches. In my view, by and large all approaches have followed a contour that of keeping it within the constitution, respecting the sense of history and carrying that baggage. And the result of these efforts is there to see.

72 years since Independence means, 3 generations have rolled over, assuming a generation is defined by 25 years. This generation and the coming ones have no love lost for history or for historical narratives over Kashmir. They are concerned about the present and what the future entails. Hence to move forward on a long-lasting solution for Kashmir, the approach must entail shedding any historical baggage and looking into the future. What does this mean?

  • Jammu and Kashmir must be treated just like any other state of India. No special status whatsoever.
  • Scrap Article 370.
  • No Autonomous powers
  • Any law passed in the Parliament of India by default must be applicable to Jammu & Kashmir as well.
  • No Special constitution for Jammu & Kashmir
  • Allow business to be set up by non-Kashmiris in J&K just like in other parts of India.
  • Scrap Article 35A

And so on.

While I understand that it is not as simplistic as it sounds, we need to move in this direction and take firm steps.

Of course all this can work only under peaceful circumstances. There will be a huge uproar in the valley.  In the near term, the Government has to engage in multiple fronts in an effort to bring peace. That includes

Diplomacy – This Government has done a great job in working with relevant countries to isolate Pakistan. Continue the efforts to get more and more countries on board to tighten the noose.

Political – Within the country, take the main opposition parties on board on an agreed broad strategy. Get all parties to talk in the same wavelength not just in the aftermath of a Pulwama type attack but all the time. This will give a signal of India being one on this issue.  In the same token, do not rush to take credit as a party but give credit to all the parties in case of any successes.

Military – The 2016 Surgical strike was a great step. But it has not deterred Pakistan from carrying out the proxy war and stopping the activities of outfits like Jaish. One surgical strike in 2 years seemingly is not enough. We need to raise the cost for Pakistan by carrying our strikes in unpredictable frequency.

In the context of military intervention, we always encounter two refrains. One – that it can escalate into a fully blown war. Two – that a war between two nuclear capable countries is not at all desirable.  My point is, we have always been concerned of any military invention escalating into a fully blown war though Pakistan doesn’t seem to be concerned of the same while provoking us. For a change, why not make them feel concerned about a military escalation. Today, Pakistan is a failed and beleaguered state. Its economy is extremely frail. A fully blown war would only expose its vulnerability further. Except for China, which could come to its support militarily, Pakistan’s isolation is complete. Even for China, an economy which is stuttering today, ignoring India’s interests and siding with Pakistan will be a short term stupidity. So, eventually just like during the Kargil war, there will be more pressure mounted on Pakistan to mend its ways and take visible steps to stop cross border terrorism and take actions on outfits the same.

Economy – Raising the costs for Pakistan economically must be a continuous effort. Getting friendly countries to stop financial aid, labelling Pakistan a terrorist state, getting international sanctions imposed are all options on the table.

While these are ongoing efforts and I am sure Government must be engaged in all of this, the way to long lasting solution is to keep history aside and move forward. We hear that Narendra Modi has a penchant for leaving a lasting legacy. Solving the Kashmir problem could be his gateway to that. And for that History must give way to Geography, Economics and probably Chemistry! It’s time.

16 thoughts on “Kashmir – When History & Geography conflict!

  1. M S PRAKASH says:

    As usual one more good one RSA 👍… Whenever a calamity like this happens in the valley, we run around for solutions to Kashmir problem for a week or so and settle down. Then it is biz as usual.. Everyone has got some solution or other for this long standing problem and i am trying to throw one too..

    Whether we accept or not, only we claim as Kashmir is the integral part of india but the international community sees it as a “disputed territory”… So any diplomatic move to solve this problem by isolating pak etc etc will be viewed with this lens of disputed territory and we may not get the full support for this cause.. Yes.. The international community would condemn the act of terrorism etc., but that would remain in the paper only and not much of any use to us.. We have been the one stopping the “neutral observers ” to come and monitor the situation in J&K.. I guess we should allow them along with UN security forces if required.. Let them not visit only IOK but also POK, Aksai Chin.. We should insist them to go to Balluch as the problem almost similar that of Kashmir.. This move would certainly put the politicians of JnK, the separatists and also Pak on the back foot as the world would come to know the actual situation.. These guys want the situation to remain as it is and keep continue to fish in the troubled waters.. The fact is out 20+ states in JnK only 5 or 6 districts i believe support the separatists like Srinagar, Anantnag, Barramulla, Pulwama and couple more.. Rest are pro india.. So no harm in allowing the international community to monitor the situation..

    As far as China supporting Pakistan is concerned, I believe we can bring China on the back foot by attacking them economically by gradually increasing the import duty of Chinese goods (we can not and should not go for total ban as it would impact us in the short term and WTO guidelines won’t allow that).. We are not a total import dependent economy, to major extent we are self sufficient.. With US having trade war with China and these small moves would certainly send signals to China and they can’t afford to loose a country like india.. After the US move, the manufacturing base is slowly moving to countries like Vietnam, Thailand and few other countries, it is not a bad idea to have FTA with these countries (if not we are already having one) to check China..

    Anyhow, all these are easier said than done but not impossible..

    Keep enlightening us with your blogs dude.. 👍👍👍

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks MSP!
      Appreciate your very detailed and nuanced views.
      As you hv pointed out, it’s high time we move from historical perspectives, methods on solving Kashmir.
      Any Govt. should break away from the past.
      From a timing point of view, this is very ripe.
      Pakistan is in a deep mess financially. Bangladesh is beating Pak in terms of Economic growth. In absolute GDP terms as of 2017 just $55mn separated them and soon Bdesh will overtake Pak. So with India, it is just not an even comparison.

      The threat from China right now also could be over stated. China has its own economic problems. Its OBOR initiative has seen a severe push back. So beyond a token support, China is not going to bet its resources behind Pakistan.
      So now is the time to take the chances for India.
      And within Kashmir, we must move forward on breaking the barriers based on legacy positions.
      For a long time, Congress’ approach to Kashmir was apologetic. That promoted the likes of the separatists and so on. Surprisingly when Modi came in, he also ( like in many other areas) avoided too much risk taking and believed in just incrementalism.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You can wake up a sleeping guy and not the one who feigns sleeping. Take the names of Hafeez or Azhar and pat comes the question from Pak who they are! From parties like Cong and Communists around that keep Indian media fully under their control, liberal judiciary, naxals, Maoists, fake human rights activists etc, you will continue to hear the refrain, ‘terrorists don’t have a religion’! Pak has already packed Kashmir with people who live with a facade of Indian citizens!! Get rid of these pseudo citizenry with your military might and you’ll reclaim your Kashmir back.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ramdinsanga Saiawi says:

    Hi Anand, I found your blog really interesting but I fear scrapping article 370 is going to be increasingly difficult as time passes until & unless we take some effective steps in winning over the Kashmiri’s, given that the Jammu & Ladhak want to be part of India. Since the power to scrap article 370 rests with the state assembly, i fear it’s a long & arduous road which i’m afraid we won’t see in our lifetime. Sorry to sound so pessimistic, I truly wish I wasn’t

    Liked by 1 person

  4. J&K issue is a brainchild of Paki Generals. Soon after the annexation of J&K with India, Paki army sent forces in the guise of tribals. After that unsuccessful and unnecessary attempt, Paki army kept interfering in a legitimate Indian state. Shameful treatment of East Pakistan citizens followed by genocide created Bangladesh. To avenge partition of erstwhile Pakistan, Paki army came out with ‘Bleed India with 1000 cuts’ theory. They started an insurgency in the Indian state of Punjab and failed. The blood of Indian PM Indira Gandhi remains on Paki army’s hands, and that would be avenged. After failing in Punjab, Paki army started an insurgency in J&K. They successfully displaced lakhs of Kashmiri Pundits from their rightful homes. Only converted Pundits remained in J&K. Paki army’s fake narrative keeps fluctuating between ‘J&K is part of Pakistan’ to ‘J&K’s freedom struggle’. Other than a few handful people, who have been brainwashed by Paki propaganda, the majority peace-loving J&K residents are indeed suffering. But strong and effective leadership in India would soon resolve the issue once for all. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

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