Kashmir Is Burning!
By S. M. Hali
Dr Subhash Kapila, writing for South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), in his latest Op-Ed ‘India’s Pakistan Policy: A Saga of Flawed Approaches – Analysis’, quotes from reputed Indian columnist M.J. Akbar’s Op-Ed: ‘Out of turn’, published in the “Times of India”, December 23, 2012 that “Delhi’s Pakistan policy has all the emotional intensity of a battered wife with a karmic commitment to marriage. Justice must surrender to appeasement in the pursuit of some higher purpose.”
Dr. Kapila comments that “Foreign policy analysts like us have constantly highlighted this flaw but it was not taken note of because the Indian policy establishment treated them as voices in the wilderness. But when a reputed policy analyst and eminent media personality like Mr. M J Akbar arrives at similar conclusions then it is time for officialdom to take a serious note. India’s national security cannot be made a pawn for personal predilections of the apex level.”
It’s a pity that Mr. Kapila who is in the habit of Pakistan bashing, now takes up a different approach and using M. J. Akbar’s shoulders, attacks Pakistan by blaming that India has been trying to appease Pakistan. He discredits the marathon effort of the Track-II diplomacy as well as the ex-servicemen from both sides of the divide, who have been running from pillar to post to find an amicable solution to the various issues that have plagued both the nations for decades and have been turned into festering sores due to Indian obduracy.
Dr. Kapila’s cynicism is evident: “To give shape to their Pakistan-appeasement policies, the India policy establishment crafted Track II dialogues from the Neemrana Dialogues to the endless and fruitless such dialogues thereafter. Then came the ploy of Special Envoys which were nothing more than a sinecure for retired diplomats who equally were inadequate in reading Pakistani establishment’s mind-sets. The latest and potentially dangerous Indian policy establishment’s crafted design has been to use groups of retired senior Armed Forces dignitaries including a retired Indian Air Force Chief to confabulate in Lahore and come out with recommendations that implied that Sir Creek and Siachen eventually are ‘doable and deliverable’ issues. Can these be gifted away to Pakistan just to make progress in the Peace Dialogue?”
The truth is that India has always found excuses and ways and means to back out of dialogue for seeking solutions to the contentious issues. The bilateral relations between two neighboring countries that were stalled in the wake of Mumbai carnage-2008 seemed to thaw when Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar extended an invitation to 8 members of the executive council of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), to visit Pakistan from 15 to 22 December 2012. The initiative had been taken to begin a consultative process between the political leadership of Pakistan and pro-movement leaders of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), which will certainly set appropriate grounds leading to the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue. Kashmir experts believe that such visits by the Hurriyat leader’s suit both India and Pakistan, while APHC acts as “facilitator” in deciding things which are in line with aspirations and interests of Kashmiris.
Indian media hawks and hardliners, who wanted to derail the peace initiative, adopted an over-cautious attitude towards the visit of the Hurriyat leaders. Eight members of the executive council of the APHC visited Pakistan last week on and despite the hurdles put in the way of the visit and negative connotation conspired by Indian hawks and media, the visit is being deemed as a success. The APHC Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, after his visit, categorically declared that the Kashmir dispute is the main impediment in the cordial relations between Pakistan and India and the two countries cannot progress in economic fields without settling it. He opined that it should ultimately lead to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, the bone of contention between the two countries.
Mirwaiz maintained that the Pakistani leadership and people were aware of the sufferings of Kashmiris and had always extended moral, political and diplomatic support to the struggle of the Kashmiri people. The APHC leader urged New Delhi to accept the ground realities and realize the fact that a nation could not be subjugated for too long.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said on record that India wants to resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir issue with Pakistan through dialogue. New Delhi and Islamabad announced on February 10 that they would resume full peace talks which were suspended by Mumbai episode. Experts say that large majority of Indian populace want peace to prevail so that the pace of economic prosperity continues. Unfortunately, Indian media hawks continue to create hurdles to curb first formal conversation between the two sides in nearly four years. Since 2004, the peace process between India and Pakistan provided an ideal forum to tackle core issues and improved the decades old mistrust through confidence-building measures (CBMs). The recent overtures from both the sides clearly indicate that both the neighboring countries want prosperity in the region and for that agree that the resolution of Kashmir is a priority for Pakistan and India. The dialogue process will not only narrow down the differences on Sir Creek, the comprehensive resolution on demilitarization of Siachen glacier will also be worked out amicably. From a Kashmiri perspective, the leaders of both India and Pakistan should be encouraged to continue with the good-will initiatives they have started some time ago. This will enable both the countries to find converging interests.
It should be abundantly clear that Pakistan is desirous of peace but the Kashmir issue is central to all the misunderstandings and misgivings. Pakistan, as always, will continue diplomatic/political support of its Kashmiri brethren. The invitation to the APHC leaders was also meant to develop an understanding on their point of view but vested interests tried to drive a wedge between the APHC leaders and Pakistan. It is a matter of satisfaction that their heinous designs did not succeed. If only the hawkish Indian media can be urged to soften its stance.