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India: Obama visit symbolic to Kashmir solution

The scheduled visit of President Barrack Obama to India on January 24, 2015 coincides with India´s January 26 Republic day celebrations. It is termed as incredibly consequential for US President to make the trip especially when Pakistan´s desperation peaks to fight terrorism and in a frantic effort pull the reins on terrorists supported and funded by forces from within and external. It is an exigent and compelling circumstance to take note of Hindu fundamentalism steeply on the rise in India supported and patronised by ruling government machinery posing a greater challenge for maintenance of peace in the region.

It is reported in sections of the press that President Obama, in the likeness of his predecessor President Bill Clinton, will make a short visit to Pakistan as well which is considered as another attempt by US administration to mediate and impress upon neighbouring nuclear power nations to find a quick solution to the vexed problem of Kashmir. President elect Barrack Obama (November 2008) calling Kashmir an ´interesting situation´ desired to "devote serious diplomatic resources to figure out a plausible approach" hinting at President Bill Clinton to be appointed as a special envoy on Kashmir issue. The President elect further quoted by Daily Times as having stated that "Working with Pakistan and India to try to resolve the Kashmir crisis in a serious way was one of the most ´critical tasks´ for my administration".

The ongoing skirmishes on ceasefire line in Kashmir resulting in casualties is a matter of grave concern as there is every apprehension that it might escalate into full fledged war with devastating consequences keeping in view the past history of the warring nations. John Kerry, US Secretary of State now visiting the sub-continent has arrived in Pakistan from India (January 12, 2015) laying foundation for upcoming visit of President Obama.

In a fresh initiative, China calls for India and Pakistan to show restraint on Kashmir ceasefire line and international border of the two countries; states China´s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei (January 08, 2015). China, the spokesman further stated, hoped "the two countries would control the situation through dialogue and consultation and deal with the disputes properly". China is consciously aware of the potential threat of a nuclear war and realises the aftermath of such a scenario that could spill over and engulf the whole world with unimaginable repercussions.

India stubbornly tries to keep Kashmir out of the dialogue equation stressing to keep it bilateral as the eased international pressure gives India a comfort asking Pakistan to handover the part held by it thus pushing the problem down the ladder to square one. India taking advantage of Pakistan´s political infirmities, is spite of active meddling, asks and expects Pakistan to discuss ´other´ issues minus Kashmir to have any progress towards normalising relations conveniently in the areas of trade and commerce. Pakistan for the first time asks India for tripartite dialogue involving popular leadership of Kashmir and stresses on any future negotiations to have Kashmir top of the agenda.

Interestingly enough, India managed to carry on with the occupation through direct rule from Delhi or local elections held at times, internationally accepted as rigged and manipulated. Since Prime Minister Modi´s fundamentalist party came to power, the majority of Indians are on tenterhooks and watch with fear hawkish Modi government´s policy towards Kashmir. The local elections to the Kashmir Assembly conducted, as it were, did not give a clear majority to any political party creating a political stalemate. The ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Partry) due to its pre-election manifesto that Kashmir will be annexed with rest of India by hook or by crook faces a dilemma of sorts devoid of ideas to solve the tangle. Modi’s party unable to get the lion´s share in the coalition of its choice imposed the Governor´s rule in Kashmir on January 09, 2015.

Since Indian army took control of Kashmir on October 25, 1947; the local elections conducted thereafter have always been manipulated, generally rigged, people put in power accepting the dictation from Delhi willingly or under duress. A miniscule minority of Kashmiris who take part in such elections maintain that a government needs to be put in place to run the administration; thus such elections conducted become a necessity. Moreover, as argued, the local elections can in no way be termed as an alternative to the basic Right of Self-Determination promised to Kashmir by India, United Nations and the international community.

The political atmosphere gets charged up with the narrative spitting venom belligerently threatening to annihilate each other creates a mindset that knows only enmity, hatred and intolerance. Pakistan, historically even before partition of the subcontinent, lived with gun culture and needs no further "training" but India fast catching up in building a formidable civilian army trained in drills and sophisticated weaponry creates a very scary scenario.

In a desperate bid Prime Minister Modi´s party, as reported, is planning to settle an unspecified number of non Kashmiri migrants running in tens of thousands to change the demographic character of Kashmir. People of Kashmir are already on the roads vowing to thwart any such move and in the sequence of developing events Kashmir could once again head for another human tragedy like 2010 summer when over 150 teenagers were gunned down in cold blood. To quell another such uprising with brute force Indian army chief Dalbir Singh issued a statement (Jan 15, 2015) saying ^quot;peace in Kashmir has to be maintained".

Trust is not simply a matter of truthfulness, or even constancy. It is also a matter of amity and goodwill. We trust those who have our best interests at heart, and mistrust those who seem deaf to our concerns. - Gary Hamel


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