Is Kashmir heading for a solution?
Nothing is impossible when we follow our inner guidance, even when its direction may threaten us by reversing our usual logic.
India and Pakistan busy in confidence building measures each time in their official meets state that Kashmir is on the agenda and has been discussed. Moreover, it appears; the feelers are thrown at the public of their respective nations to prepare for an eventuality; especially Kashmir when even the installed Chief Minister of Kashmir Omar Abdullah, individuals, other political outfits or stray media coverage print and issue statements like:
- India Today on 8 August 2012 quotes Lawyer and politician Ram Jethmalani currently on a peace mission in Kashmir “majority of the people in J-K want a peaceful solution and for this a compromise on the respective stands is inevitable."
- Pakistan is a party to Kashmir problem and it cannot be solved without its involvement. - Kashmir is an issue that needs to be resolved and for the lasting peace in the sub-continent; India and Pakistan have to talk to find a solution.
- In the recent past, another political party PDP walked into “Kashmir Assembly” with the flags of India and Pakistan.
- Bus service between two Kashmirs and bilateral trade which is on the increase is an indicator that modalities for some solution are being worked out and a base is being built to take it, perhaps, to some logical conclusion.
- A man from Pakistani-administered Kashmir who enters India illegally, India says can stay but has to apply for an Indian passport. Well, every other Kashmiri who travels abroad from Indian held Kashmir has the only option of travelling on Indian passport.
The right-wing politicians of India and Pakistan using religion as a tool to stir up sentiments seem to be drifting towards irrelevance.
The general masses, due to awareness, enhanced literacy rate, maturing free media and information available at the press of a button, understand the negative implications of indoctrination of hatred and animosity.
It is heartening to see a number of politicians, celebrity film actors, musicians, pop-singers, cricketing legends of Pakistan become part of the entertainment industry of India. And in the likeness, Indian equivalents visiting Pakistan in reciprocation creates an aura of friendliness and an environment that puts two sides on promising but fragile footing of peace and tranquility.
The urge to possess weapons of mass destruction is growing stronger that, without a shadow of doubt, makes the world unsafe and unpredictable. The conventional wars consigned to history, any future war, will result in devastation and annihilation and a possible stone-age era, fingers crossed, may become a reality.
Pakistan is faced with terrorism, internal political quagmire and the instability has put a lot at stake. Under the circumstances, it needs to put its house in order and strive hard to acquire peace so that the country can be put back on the track. The strengthening of democratic institutions is the only answer and corruption weeded out from top to bottom a prerequisite. An uphill task but a stronger will and resolve can definitely make it possible.
India, on the other hand, emerging as regional economic power has a role to play. Apart from India’s other multiple political and religious problems, unresolved Kashmir is becoming an impediment and a major obstacle to achieve the objective of contributing in the decision making of world affairs.
The so-called "peace loving", "right thinking" intelligentsia supported by a huge majority of Indian public believe that prevailing global circumstances warrant friendship between two nuclear powers as fundamental, vitally important and indispensable.
Without stirring up emotions and allowing hardliners to exploit the situation, the people at the helm in India should take the initiative to expedite confidence building measures and make a serious effort to involve the leadership of Kashmir to consider what they can offer as a solution. Kashmiris are the only party who can come out with various acceptable solutions or else it will be an exercise futile and wasteful.
An exercise of working out a bilateral solution due to political convenience of two hostile nations; back-burner or status quo maneuvers and manipulations will prove to be a mirage as any such measure will only mean to force it on the people of Kashmir as it can become a cause of frustration and further resentment.
Justice on sought-after issues, like the atrocities committed on disappeared perished in torture chambers yet to be accounted for; the perpetrators of rapes identified or unidentified to be brought to the book and millions worth property razed without any remorse or compunction to be reimbursed and compensated, can be a starting point.
India and Pakistan have to look at the problem of Kashmir in its entirety and in isolation without amalgamation of other issues. All other issues will become easy to settle if a solution to Kashmir is worked out and implemented, and the solution to political problem of Kashmir cannot be held hostage to issues not as complicated.
An honest and strong will can bring peace, better future, prosperity and security for all and politically motivated time-buying interlocution, economic packages or populist measures will only worsen the situation taking all sides down to square one.
A dire need to solve Kashmir amicably and to the satisfaction of all parties involved is a major concern for the international community. The political atmosphere in the sub-continent has never been as conducive and emboldened as it is now and UN Chief's remarks in the recent past is a pointer to stress the urgency to settle this long standing human problem, which is timely and appropriate.