Volume 23 Issue 3, March 2019


By S.R.H. Hashmi

The Indian security forces have been behaving in a rather shameful manner in Kashmir: killing people indiscriminately, raping women and even using pellet guns on humans which, apart from killing many, have injured hundreds, with many cases of people losing their eyesight.

In these circumstances, it is not very difficult to judge the level of resentment and hatred felt by the Kashmiris for the Indian authorities. Surely, the Indian forces themselves provide cause enough to the Kashmiris to rise in protest against the atrocities of the Indian government.

If, then, a Kashmiri ends up launching a suicide attack in Pulwama, killing dozens of Indian soldiers, it should not be taken as something unexpected. After all, what would these Kashmiris do but target Indian security personnel in strikes which are entirely locally planned and operated, with absolutely no involvement of Pakistanis, civilian or military.

While one grieves on the loss of human lives, even if they were Indian soldiers, one should not forget that it is a cause-and-effect situation. Therefore, India's accusation of Pakistan over such incidents is rather unwarranted. Kashmiris and Pakistanis are not alone in protesting against Indian atrocities. All right-thinking people around the world, as well as human rights organizations, regularly protest over Indian atrocities against the Kashmiris.

Overlooking clear evidence, India has chosen, yet again, to accuse the alleged Pakistan-based terrorists to be behind the attack which even Indian leaders are rejecting. Not stopping at that, India even launched an aerial attack on Pakistan’s soil without causing much damage but claimed it to be a successful operation against a terrorist training camp.

Showing restraint, Pakistan did not react immediately and said it reserved its right to take befitting action. Sure enough, Pakistan scrambled its military jets and made a symbolic attack on Indian aircraft, deliberately avoiding military and civilian targets, to prove that it is quite capable of exacting revenge and that India better not take Pakistan for granted.
Mistaking Pakistan's restraint for weakness, India again sent its jets across the border; Pakistan shot down two and captured the pilot of the aircraft that was downed in its territory.

In round one, Pakistan has definitely come out a winner. However, there is not much point gloating over this small victory. Pakistan has made it very clear that it does not want escalation because, God forbid, if things go out of control, South Asia could end up having an all-out war between two nuclear-armed neighbours resulting in total disaster for both.

The Pakistani leadership is very clear on this point and luckily, there is some realization on the Indian side as well. During her visit to China, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said "India doesn't want further escalation".

That means India is also well aware of the dangers of 'further escalation' but is hoping Pakistan will not retaliate and that by appearing tough, Modi will get some extra votes in the forthcoming elections.

In fact, this constant state of heightened tension and escalations is in no one's interest. Pakistan knows this very well and has been extending a hand of friendship to India. Prime Minister Imran Khan has also repeatedly done so. However, a mere wish is not enough to bring about peace. What is really needed is drastic change of attitude on both sides.

Without a satisfactory solution of the Kashmir problem, an environment of trust cannot be built between India and Pakistan. It is not enough for both countries just to 'wish' the Kashmir problem away. They have to adopt a realistic approach and take hard decisions to make that happen. Analysed, in a realistic and non-emotional manner the Kashmir problem entails:
1] Pakistan cannot snatch Kashmir from India, and even if it made a dash and occupied some territory, it would not be able to hold on to it for long.

2) There is no way India will loosen its grip on Kashmir on its own or even under press-ure from resistance movements, since it is prepared to go to any extent. Unfortunately, the influential countries which could possibly pressurize India to behave, seem to have put their conscience to sleep and are no longer bothered about Kashmir.

3) In the light of point 2, there is simply no possibility of the international community to pressurize India to accede to the Kashmiris' demand for freedom or merger with Pakistan.

So the solution for Kashmir has to be found, keeping clearly in mind and accepting the fact that the geographical boundaries and controlling powers for the two Kashmirs will remain what they are now.

All that is possible is to bring some relief to the Kashmiris in the Indian-held territory so as to enable them to lead near-normal lives initially, gradually improving to normal within a reasonable time-frame.

As for Pakistan, it claims that it gives only moral support to the Kashmiris in the held territory. However, it has got to go a step further and stop indirectly 'encouraging' fighters in held Kashmir to rise against the Indian government, through such measures as strong statements or issuance of commemorative stamps on the martyrdom of Burhan Wani. While his spirit, and of other brave men like him, needs to be appreciated, one has to remember that there are very thin lines between courage and stupidity. That means one has got to realize sometimes that simply continuing a futile fight with absolutely no chance of victory, is pointless and only brings more grief to all concerned.

The other consequence of this militant approach is that relations between Pakistan and India keep worsening, giving India an excuse to do mischief in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, apart from making the solution of problems between the two neighbours yet more difficult or even impossible.

Avoiding heroics and theatrics and adopting a realistic and constructive approach is the answer.

The writer is a free-lance contributor with interest in regional, South Asian and international affairs. He can be reached at hashmi_srh@hotmail.com

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