Kashmir is bleeding between the match of IHK vs POK*

For more than 50 years, India and Pakistan have been arguing and periodically coming to blows over one of the most beautiful places in the world. As a result of this unending quarrel, murders and terrorism now stalk the valley once so famous for its peacefulness that outsiders made jokes about the Kashmiris' supposed lack of fighting spirit...

We will start our repertoire based on some ground realities, trying to look beyond the routine Hindu-Muslim issues which are generally portrayed by the media of the two countries and fanned by politicians. 

A quick look at history :The "Kashmir problem" dates back to 1947 and the partition of India and Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the hereditary ruler of Kashmir, delayed for several months a decision as to which nation Kashmir would join, hoping to achieve independence for his principality. Singh, a Hindu by religion ruling over a Muslim-majority population, finally agreed to Indian dominance on October 27, 1947, partly to gain Indian military assistance against an Islamic revolt. Muslim Kashmiris have always challenged the Instrument of Accession; India regards it as final. (The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is itself of Kashmiri origin.) In the past 50 years, India and Pakistan have fought three wars--two over control of Kashmir. The issue has been on the United Nations docket as long or longer than any other: the U.N. military observers' office has monitored activities at the Line of Control, the cease-fire line separating the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir, since the end of the first Indian-Pakistani war of 1947. The cease-fire, which gave 65 percent of Kashmir to India, was to be temporary; a plebiscite was supposed to follow, allowing the Kashmiris to decide their future. To date, there has been no plebiscite. Kashmiris today want self-determination--which includes the opportunity not only to choose India or Pakistan, but to opt for independence, which neither of Kashmir's dueling masters finds acceptable. Pakistan favors a solution that implements a 1948 U.N. resolution giving Kashmiris the right to choose between the two countries. India prefers the "Simla agreement," signed in 1971 by Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, which calls for India and Pakistan to solve the issue bilaterally. On International forums, India maintains an attitude of 'no third party mediation' as according to Shimla agreement, in the meantime maintaining that there are no unresolved issues whatsoever, when they talk to their Pakistani counterparts bilaterally. Both countries continue to be rigid in their stance. 


Pakistan's core interests in Kashmir:

The rivers of Sindh (2897 kilometers), Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi provide the main drainage system for this country. All these rivers originate in Kashmir and run into Pakistan because that is the natural lay of the land. All major valleys also open towards Pakistan as well. Agriculture in Pakistan is dependent on waters of these rivers and, therefore, Kashmir provides the life-line to Pakistan. Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah once even termed Kashmir to be the Jugular vein of Pakistan. First of all, the issue goes back to the year 1947. Pakistanis feel very strongly that India cheated Pakistan out of Kashmir. Now, obviously, this is involved in history, and we do not have the time to delve into it— But more important than anything else is strategic. Kashmir is located at a place where out of five rivers that flow into Pakistan four of them originate from Kashmir. It is true that a treaty has been signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, which divided the distribution of the waters coming from these rivers. But Pakistanis feel that in a major conflict, India could shut off the waters from the rivers.

Here there is a need to point to the fact that, even during the 1965 war or the 1971 war, neither India nor Pakistan—in fairness—bombed the head works off these water arrangements, and more importantly, India did not shut off water when it very easily could have. Also, being on a higher altitude, Kashmir's strategic and military importance cannot be belittled in case of a military confrontation between the two countries.

India's core interests:

One man's gain is other man's loss. All the points written above holds good for India as well. All the major rivers flowing into India finds their origination in Kashmir and hence, water being a vital resource for any country's self reliance, India too cannot afford to lose it. As India's northernmost territory, the state of Jammu and Kashmir provides a valuable window on the other regional powers, including China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the nearby former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists Hopes for a unilateral decision by India to organize a plebiscite have always been wishful thinking. India is not about to allow this strategic northern outpost to simply walk away. The Indian government also has an interest in the state's non-Muslim population, who are far from willing to fall in line behind the idea of Islamic unity. There are marked ethnic and religious differences among the three regions-Ladakh, Jammu, and Kashmir-that make up the Indian state. For India, ever relenting on the question of Kashmiri independence (a very remote possibility), would invite dissent from other Indian states who are keenly watching developments in Kashmir. There had already been incidents of unrest in the northeast states and in Punjab; India would not dare to stir up more trouble in these regions, and hence it will always try to linger on the Kashmir issue on one pretext or another

Pakistan's follies: 

    "Kashmir for the Kashmiris (natives of the kashmir valley)" is an old slogan, but the only one that expresses how the subjects of this dispute have always felt; how, the majority of them would still say of their feelings, if they were free to speak their minds. Pakistan, for its part, has from its earliest times been a heavily militarized state, dominated by the army even when under notionally civilian rule and spending a huge part of its budget on its armed forces. Such spending, and the consequent might of the generals, depends on having a dangerous enemy to defend against and a "hot" cause to pursue.

    It has therefore always been in the interest of Pakistan's top brass to frustrate peacemaking initiatives toward India and to keep the Kashmir dispute alive. Sacking of the Nawaz Sharif government and his subsequent revelation in court of his government being kept in dark by the army during it's kargil misadventure, only proves the point. This, and not the alleged interests of Kashmiris or Muslims, is what lies behind Pakistan's policy on the issue. These days, in addition, the Pakistani authorities are under pressure from radical Islamists, who characterize the struggle to "liberate" Kashmir as a holy war (so called 'Jihad'). But Kashmiri Islam has always been of the mild, Sufistic variety, in which local pirs, holy men, are revered as saints. This open-hearted, tolerant Islam is anathema to the firebrands of Pakistan. It would be naďve to think that Pakistan would supply weapons and money to create a new, independent state on its northern border-even if it were a Muslim nation.

Let's try to analyze the statements by Pakistan where they speak of 'Jihad' and aiding and abetting a Muslim freedom movement in Kashmir, then a few questions prop up in our minds:

1. Why do Muslim migrants from India, called as 'muhajirs' still complain of the biased treatment at the  hands of Pakistani authorities, so much so, that they openly talk of feeling alienated after a span of more than 50yrs of Pakistan's independence? What about the stateless 'Bihari' Muslims of erstwhile 'west' Pakistan who are caught between the politics of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. None of the three countries are ready to grant them the citizenship and their sufferings are endless. Will Pakistan come to the aid of these Muslims brothers and grant them citizenship as they chose for Pakistan during the partition.

2. Internal tensions between the two sects, shias and sunnis have hit an all time low, with regular shootouts and killings between the two. Previously unheard of cases like, shooting down worshippers of either of the sects inside the mosques are taking place on regular basis and most of the culprits roam around scot-free. The feeling of hatred runs so high between the two sects in Pakistan that I have heard, on more than one occasions, Pakistani cab drivers here in Dubai, saying that ' it's better to kill a shia/sunni' first when confronted along with a snake. So, what will Pakistani leadership do to prevent Kashmiri shias being massacred or shia-sunni riots which might ensue once they manage to take over Kashmir.

   Now let's delve a bit into the creation of Pakistan and what it brought about for Muslims on both sides of the border.

   Pakistan was an invention of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who promised a homeland for all of the Muslims living in British India. That dream has failed, since more Muslims live in India than in Pakistan, which is little more than a collection of tribes, warring factions and increasingly radical Islamists. The Pashtuns, whose homeland was cut in two by the British, come and go across an artificial border with Afghanistan, trading, smuggling and envisioning an independent Pashtunistan, incorporating Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province with much of Afghanistan. Sindh, Pakistan’s second most populous province, is ruled directly by Islamabad to keep order in violence-prone Karachi, the commercial center. It is being torn apart by fighting between the indigenous population and migrants (Muhajirs) from India and Bangladesh. Muhajir groups have begun killing each other. Meanwhile, Shiite Muslims, around 20 percent of Pakistan’s population, are being targeted by radical Sunni groups inflamed by the Taliban example. Last year almost 1,000 people were killed in clashes between Sunni and Shiite militants. Many extreme Sunni Islamists seem to hate the Shiites more than the West, or India. The existence of the Shiites is an offense against these Sunnis’ vision of a unified ‘’Muslim community of the faithful.’’ The dream of Jinnah is lost. The worst thing that could happen to Pakistan would be for it to succeed in wresting Kashmir and its 4 million Muslims living therein. Led by Hindu extremists, the ethnic cleansing of millions of Muslims living in India would make Bosnia and Kosovo seem like a picnic. And a further flood of refugees would destroy Pakistan. The partition of British India in 1947 created more than 11 million refugees and provoked almost a million deaths. Even pleas by towering leaders like Gandhi and Jinnah were unable to stop the massacre on both sides, no such leader exists now.

 Trying to keep up with India, a country with 6 times its GDP and 15 times its foreign exchange, Pakistan is running on empty. It has an external debt of $30 billion (half of its GDP) and has been bailed out by the IMF 17 times. The lion’s share of government spending goes to defense and debt service.

With such a state of it's internal affairs and social hatred, it is slightly hard to believe that Pakistan's policy makers really have the interest of Kashmiris as a Muslims, at the core of their heart. It's all about the land area, no one cares about Kashmiris. What a pitiful situation the poor guys have fallen into?

India's follies: India's follies are more numerous, partly because of the fact that you have little cause to complain if you don't give your kids, the attention they need during the initial years and leave them to be influenced by seemingly attractive but disastrous results of drugs and cocaine. The journey back to sanity takes more time and consumes more money than could have been spent initially.

    It will be hard to deny that the present-day growth of terrorism in Kashmir has roots in India's treatment of Kashmiris, only aided by Pakistan's self interests. India has badly mishandled the Kashmir case from the beginning. 

After all these years of fighting to retain Kashmir, Nagaland and many other regions, it is one of India’s greatest tragedies that we are no closer to winning the people in those regions than we were decades ago. The reasons are plentiful and the details can be availed – corruption, indifference and neglect, and so on. Yet, year after year, promises are made to improve the situation but on the ground, little seems to change.

If neglected people do not seek a separate destiny, what else will they desire? And it is worth asking how long can India tolerate such a situation of keeping with it people who have no desire to be part of it simply through overwhelming force. Personally, I do not know how many years, but I know it cannot be forever.

Strangely, many Indians support the cause of Tibet and Eelam, but refuse to hear any argument for Kashmir. The reasons and histories certainly are different, making comparisons odious, but in all three the idea is the same: that the people are seeking control over their own destiny. It should not surprise anyone that a fearful New Delhi categorically supports the “national integrity” of both China and Sri Lanka. The reason is fear about Kashmir, Nagaland and other regions.All such countries speak about national sovereignty, and the country’s unity and integrity. In the bargain they forget the unity and integrity of the people they govern. By placing territory over people, such capitals have only lost the trust and respect of the peoples who then support the secessionist cause.

   India has maintained a large standing military presence in Kashmir for decades, both in the plains and Valley of Kashmir where most of the population is based. This force feels to most Kashmiris like an occupying army. No setup of Industries which might have opened employment opportunities for the local population and negligible involvement of Kashmiris in the center's policy making decisions added to their woes. Yet until recently the generality of Indians, even the liberal intelligentsia, refused to face up to the reality of Kashmiris' growing animosity toward them. So, the problem has grown steadily worse, greatly exacerbated by laws that threatened long jail sentences for any Kashmiris making anti-Indian statements in public.

To make the matters worse, In the year 1990, the year saw Jagmohan as governor appointed to the state of Kashmir. Also, a series of murders of Hindus and Muslims alike. Among the Hindus killed were Bhushan Lal Kaul, Bansi Lal Zutshi, Makan Lal Raina amongst a few more.

The Hindu people panic peaked. The exodus started. When it ended, some 300,000 Hindus (and also 70,000-odd Muslims) had migrated from the valley, mainly to Jammu and Delhi.

Jagmohan, who is now a Union minister in the BJP-led government, comes in for scathing criticism here. He is said to have encouraged the migration. "He wanted the Hindus out of the way so that he could unleash the army and the paramilitary on the Muslims," says a senior bureaucrat who served with Jagmohan. "But for him the exodus wouldn't have taken place."

   This was Indian governments worst blunder, Indeed. Even the Kashmiri Muslims who were opposed to the idea of independence, saw through this as the Indian governments plan to annihilate them and the step alienated them from India to an extent from where it's very difficult to rebuild the trust lost. One of the other strategies of the Indian government over the years had been to implement Israeli inspired skewed solutions which talks of creating artificial communities which might tilt the demographic balance in favour of Hindus in the region by doing away with Article 370 of Indian constitution. As a consequence of Article 370, some important laws of India that are not in force in J&K state are the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988. One of the effects is that neither a non Kashmiri Hindu or a Muslim can buy or own a piece of property in J&K, only Kashmiri Muslims and Jammu's Hindus can. With the exodus of Hindus, efforts are underway to establish temporary settlements which might change the demography of the region. Only two hindrances on the way, Article 370 and geographical nature of the valley. Unlike Israeli settlements which are almost fortified from Palestinian anger and violence, it's impossible to persuade any other human, be it a Hindu or a Muslim, from any other part of the country to think of residing in the troubled valley.

   The Hindu Pundits-a self-described high-caste group of India, to which Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru belonged-were an early target of the insurgents. In 1990, a dozen high profile members of the sect, all of whom held important government posts and sided with Indian agencies, were killed by militants in separate incidents. Incidents of targeting local Hindu population remains almost nil. During the era of Jagmohan, most of them were made to fled. Many then resettled in various areas of India. As a relatively educated group, most Pundits have been able to adjust to life in other Indian states, although their cultural identity diminishes with every passing year. One Kashmiri Hindu scholar had said, "We, the Kashmiri Pundits have only lost our homes but we have been able to protect our education and intelligentsia. The Kashmiri Muslims on the other hand have lost all, their education, their intelligentsia and their leaders- are all gone." 

   According  to Surinder Singh Oberoi, who reports from Kashmir for Agence France Presse, "Over the years, at least 40,000 Kashmiris have perished by official count, and citizens continue to be abducted, tortured, and killed by rebels, the Indian military, and a network of government-backed counterinsurgents
Efforts to re-start Indian-Pakistani negotiations have failed, and both countries have planted thousands of land mines at border crossings. As a result, hundreds of civilians living in border villages have died or been crippled."  

Human rights organizations have highlighted incidents in which troops have wantonly killed militants or their sympathizers. In fact, Amnesty International has stated that "torture by security forces is a daily routine and so brutal that hundreds have died as a result." Amnesty warns that "the entire civilian population is at risk. Torture includes beatings and electric shocks, hanging people upside down for many hours, crushing their legs with heavy rollers, and burning parts of their bodies." 

So, who is the final sufferer? The Kashmir's local population...or so called Kashmiris.

To see some heart rending photographs and the plight of local population, caught between a valley and a gorge, please read on:

Next: What's the solution? »