Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Kashmir Issue: Think out of the box!

Unlike Agra'01, Delhi'05 was much more pragmatic and eased out event. I still remember news channels holding 10 min. debate on the way Musharraf shook hands with the Indian PM! This time around, the expectations from the visit were pragmatic (which is the nearest soother replacement for 'low'). Nice to see that Indian media is finally coming out of age.
At the end of the visit, we can sum up the position of two sides as:
India: Stop supporting terrorism, build upon CBMs like buses, trains, visa regulations, free trade etc. to increase people-to-people link, no re-drawing of borders.
Pakistan: Solve the Kashmir issue first, think out of the box to solve this issue, supports the "struggle for independence" of Jihadis, rest(CBMs) come later.

Well, nothing new in these views/policies. Both sides have failed over the last 58 years to recognize the problem of Kashmiris. I really feel that both sides should think out of the box to sort out this issue, with an active participation of Kashmiris. Here are certain issues that have been constantly neglected/forgotten/hidden by two sides:
  • Kashmirs (Indian and POK) are one of the most backward provinces in terms of economy, infrastructure and various social indices. Unemployment is a huge problem, tourism is suffering due to the state of insurgency, industrial growth is lackluster, and corruption is paramount. There can be several reasons for this situation, apart from the demographic disadvantage. Lack of planning, prolonged militancy, insecurity, etc. But the most important reason for me is the lack of participation of the locals in governance. We will never know whether people go out willingly to vote or at a gun-point. Both governments have failed to take locals in confidence.
  • Demographic, religious, and cultural divisions of Kashmir in the form of Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh regions. The basic rule of Religious majority, which was followed at the time of independence does not hold any more due to widespread migration of Hindu pandits.
  • Lack of "proper" representative of Kashmiri people. Hurriyat no longer enjoys clout in Kashmir. Kashmiris lack a strong presence on negotiation tables in Delhi/Islamabad. I must clearly state that the Central Governments at Delhi/Islamabad DON'T represent Kashmiris.
  • Most importantly, what does a common man in Jammu, Srinagar think about the issue? Keeping aside my patriotic feelings, I feel that a large section of people in Kashmir feel themselves closer to Pakistan owing to cultural, religious, historical and emotional reasons.
Both sides must now rethink their positions, and think creatively to address these issues. Similar problems have been solved previously in world history. Possible solutions include: turning LoC into international border, joint administration of Kashmir, providing adequate autonomy to Kashmir with supervision of both countries, implementation of joing development projects for Kashmir, etc.
These solutions require strong political will from both the sides. It's amazing how the fate of about 5 million Kashmiris lies in the hands of other 950 million Indians, most of whom don't understand the issue at all! It is this set of people who will immediately question the patriotism of the person proposing such solutions.
If a political party thinks out of the box, and takes a risk, history will be made. Sure, it may loose next elections or even after that. There might be a "wave" against it, But, have confidence in the new generation. New generation is eagerly waiting for this issue to be solved, so that concentration is on improving the standard of living of people, instead of # of submarines other country possesses. This generation is the one which will ensure that the party returns to power 5-10 years henceforth. The stakes are high, benefits are higher.


Anonymous said...

I have never disagreed with somebody on an issue that I do with you on this!

I completely understand and appreciate your point that we need to think out of the box. I must give you the credit in analysing the problem and the inefficacy of the present approach of both the governments towards it. I feel that neither of them really want any solution at this stage. There is a status quo with which both the countries are satisfied to an extent.

I however don't think that any of the solutions you suggest are going to work. How can you expect two different governments having complimentary interests to peacefully and efecitvely govern a disputed territory? We haven't stil been able to have a stable coalition giving good governance to the people. Cross border coordination is completely out of the question. We might have peace in the region but that will be short lived and will lead to an even more tensed situation. To me it looks like a situation from where we can easily go into a war with our neighbour!


Anonymous said...

1.this is rubbish analysis...even bihar,bengal and uttar pradesh are facing the same problem...some of them are neighbouring countries like bangladesh(conflict is there as well),nepal and china...should we try such tactics there as well.
2.this is further going to raise the problem of terrorism(just a guess) and may lead to further conflict between the two countries.
3.there are parts in pakistan as well...they have conditions like bihar...two beggars don't make to a good average income.