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India: Kashmir and Gandhian Bhuttos

Pakistan’s Daily Times, October 12, 2012, quoted PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) government Foreign Office spokesman stating that India and Pakistan were capable of resolving issues bilaterally and the two countries desire to resolve outstanding issues including Kashmir in a meaningful manner. Earlier India’s Congress Government backed by its alliances vowed to improve bilateral relations with Pakistan and iterated all issues including Kashmir to be addressed and once again assured International community that third party mediation will not be required. It is noteworthy that India, since October 26, 1947 when it forcibly occupied Kashmir, is allergic to third party intervention and international community is very well aware of India’s refusal to face the truth and the possible outcome.

In a political somersault, India's External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in his UN General Assembly address parroted "Kashmir as an integral part "and Pakistani President Zardari in his address to UN said Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. Krishna was amazed and said India did not expect President Zardari to rake up Kashmir issue which Krishna said was unwarranted. (Indian Express Oct. 2, 2012)

To analyse above contrasting statements of PPP and Congress governments, it is not difficult to conclude that a mutual understanding seems to be developing, initially to keep UN and international community out of Kashmir imbroglio and secondly allow the issue to drag on with a hope that the fatigue, dejection and melancholy might force Kashmiris for a compromise to accept the status quo.

Being fully aware of Indian desperate attempts to create pessimism and frustration, Kashmir in a firm resolve is committed to fulfil the mission of dead souls’ brutally murdered buried in identified or unidentified graves to take the struggle to a logical conclusion. The track record of political betrayal of Bhutto’s PPP vis-à-vis Kashmir is very well known and now Kashmir is waiting with patience to see if Zardari’s PPP has any change of heart.

The terse old maxim that history repeats itself holds ground as situations do come up in an identical fashion creating perplexity and conundrum. Looking back at Bhutto and Gandhi families amazing similarities come to the fore to conclude that the extent of relationship is more cohesive and bonded than generally perceived.

- Pandit Nehru attempting to settle Kashmir towards the fag-end of his life allowed Sheikh Abdullah to negotiate with General Ayub Khan. A satisfied political novice Sheikh Abdullah committing blunder of his entire political life in Rawalpindi speaking to the waiting press said “I am rushing to Delhi to meet Nehru”. A few hours later Pandit Nehru’s untimely death on May 27, 1964, under mysterious circumstances dashed Abdullah’s all hopes.

- Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rapid rise to political power, PPP victory (1970) in West-Pakistan, generally believed, to be responsible for creating a political situation that gave India a pretext to militarily intervene in erstwhile East-Pakistan; finally culminated into creation of Bangladesh. General Zia-Ul-Haq’s military coup later led to a murder trial and Bhutto was hanged on April 4, 1979.

- A politically triumphant Indira Gandhi inflicting humiliating defeat on fragmented Pakistan negotiated Pakistan’s official position on Kashmir. Bhutto, in his book "if I am assassinated" claims that he did not compromise on anything at Simla, including Kashmir and considered the accord to be an achievement. The question asked by an average Kashmiri is; how did Bhutto trick and dupe a well groomed and shrewd politician Indira Gandhi and what from a position of strength did India get in return from Bhutto?

The Khalistan uprising in East-Punjab was inches away from assuming international recognition when Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan obliged India with all data and information of all operators and connections of Khalistan movement soon hunted down by Indian army in a matter of days and crushed killing thousands.  (Benazir committed the position in an open press briefing) Prime Minister  > strong > Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards at her residence in New Delhi. Kashmir believes that a successful Khalistan struggle would have facilitated an independent Kashmir saving thousands of their men, women and children from butchery. So Bhutto, as is believed, is not in the good books of Kashmir.

- The de-facto Prime Minister Sanjay Gandhi became a menace to his mother’s political power base and the clandestine friendship of Bhutto’s younger son Shahnawaz Bhutto came to the fore when young Bhutto was spotted leaving 14, Safdarjung road, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s official residence escorted by sleuths of Indian intelligence on a shopping spree in Delhi’s Connaught Place. Shahnawaz a guest of Gandhis sharing the bedroom of powerful Sanjay Gandhi had huge political implications even when Pakistan did not have any diplomatic relations with India and the usual war fever was at its zenith. Sanjay Gandhi died (June 23, 1980) in a plane crash flying his own aircraft.

- Shahnawaz Bhutto was found dead (July 18, 1985) in mysterious circumstances in Nice, France.

- Rajeev Gandhi, the new Prime Minister of India became victim of a policy that hurt the sentiments of Indian Tamils as India sent "Peace Keeping Force" to help Sri Lanka deal with Tamil insurgency in the north and on his scheduled visit to Chennai (Madras), a Tamil lady suicide bomber blew herself up killing Rajeev Gandhi on the spot (May 21, 1991).

- As is believed, in a political disharmony, though his sister Benazir was in power in Pakistan, Murtaza Bhutto elder son of ZA Bhutto was fatally and publicly shot dead in a controversial Sindh Police encounter along with his six close associates on September 20, 1996.

- Lastly Benazir Bhutto the astute and two term powerful Prime Minister, on her return from self exile was assassinated on 27 December 2007.

The dramatic irony reveals brutal deaths of the two families to have a lot in common and it is hard to believe that politically strong and powerful were destined for such fateful outcome. The history goes on as in spite of the trail of unfortunate incidents; the urge to stay in power has not diminished. The grooming of the progeny of two families Rahul Gandhi and Bilawal Zardari has caught international attention and their individual capability to control family political power in their respective countries in near future is closely watched, monitored and the outcome remains to be seen.

Most of the political upheavals or changes in the sub-continent have had its repercussions on the future of suffering Kashmir. The world could afford conventional wars between the countries effecting their own people and economies but another war could mean alarming bells ringing with a warning of a devastating outcome. The key is that Kashmir issue must be addressed as quickly as possible.