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Kashmir: Canada - India new relationship

The political business relationship between Canada and India dates back to 1955 when Canada offered India in its infancy high flux research reactor (Canada-India Reactor) and under the Colombo Plan, in good faith, a sincere generous offer was made for construction of the reactor. The understanding for the deal after handing over completed project or later how India used it is a topic for debate; its pros and cons for political pundits technically qualified to understand the outcome and motive of such a business deal. India now does not need any Uranium or Heavy Water (Deuterium oxide) as it has huge quantities stored and that is what she is busy with.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recently concluded high profile visit to India, with a whooping annual trade of $ 5.2 billion, is termed as a new era, reports star.com ( November 04, 2012) as the two countries had gone through difficulties especially the suspicion when in seventies Canadian uranium was used in an Indian nuclear weapons test. Canada now knows the speed at which India is stockpiling its nuclear arsenal and export of new materials to India will not matter so much. Parleys and negotiations are on! Now, to give fillip to new developing relation, Canadian administration ended the penalty imposed on India in the year 1976.

Business and politics are fundamentally and directly related as nations internationally are in business selling their products, natural resources, inventions or technology which is fair and square. The principle is that if you don’t do it; someone else will. But that necessarily does not mean the countries in business compromise on their respective stand for human and fundamental rights as that is a commitment to their own people and to the international community as well. Nations do trade to buy or sell the “merchandise” because some need it and have the money to pay for it.

Prime Minister, Louis Stephen St-Laurent of Canada (1948-57) supported the Kashmir cause and wish of the people of Kashmir to be ascertained and supervised by United Nations. Canadian General Andrew McNaughton backed a proposal in UN Security Council, in the Resolutions adopted on August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949. McNaughton’s proposals contemplated "an agreed program of progressive demilitarization ... on either side of the cease-fire line to withdrawal, disbandment and disarmament in such stages as not to cause fear at any point; both governments to reach agreement by 31 January 1950 on progressive steps taken in reducing and redistributing the forces to the minimum level complete with the maintenance of security and of local law and order". India turned a deaf ear to all these efforts made on international level.

"Line of Control" (LOC) music to Indian ears; a conspiracy hatched at Simla, India; is termed as an achievement of the tough lady duping the rolled gold sparrow of Pakistan. People of Kashmir did not allow Indira Gandhi or ZA Bhutto to besmirch geographical political reality just because India managed to strike a bargain for return of ninety thousand prisoners of war and a vanquished Bhutto claiming that he performed some outstanding political feat. Kashmiris will not be punished for something Kashmir is not connected with as the war was fought more than a thousand miles away from Kashmir by two sworn enemies.

Indian attempt to transform Kashmir a live political volcanic inferno on international agenda into a domestic internal problem is a dream come true situation that India would cherish, love and rejoice as it has learnt the art of applying carrot and stick policy to Kashmir. India believes the act to be a permanent feature till Kashmiris tire and get frustrated. But the good Samaritans of India keep on reminding the ones at the helm to stop misreading Kashmiri psyche any further.

THE HINDU reports (Nov 20, 2012) quoting Home Minister SK Shinde that “military will not be kept for long in Kashmir” and ironically Shinde having just returned from Kashmir is still unaware pretending “to understand what Kashmiris really want”. Kashmir’s elderly political leader Ali Shah Geelani termed Shinde statement as a cruel joke.

This speaks volumes as to why India desperately wants world powers to accept Kashmir as an "internal matter of India". The fact remains that Kashmir feels cheated and betrayed and is fighting Indian occupation to restore its political status of Independent Kashmir. USA, European Union, Canada or Australia having played their role, since October 26, 1947, have been stressing for a solution to Kashmir problem, a message India stubbornly and deliberately is trying to misunderstand.

South Asian News Agency (SANA) reports (November 18, 2012) Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird stating Canada’s official position on Kashmir saying "Ottawa takes the issue of a peaceful solution to the dispute in Kashmir seriously and continues to monitor the situation in Kashmir". Prime Minister Stephen Harper also regards the unresolved issue and intensification of systematic human rights violations against civilians in Kashmir as a matter of concern.

"The Government of Canada takes the issue of a peaceful resolution to the dispute in Kashmir seriously and hopes that all sides [the people of Kashmir, India and Pakistan] will see their way to resolving this situation through dialogue", the Minister of Foreign Affairs is reported to have stated.

Kashmir is keeping its fingers crossed and watches the development of new Canada-India relationship closely to see how it effects Canada’s previous unstinting support for Kashmir.