Kashmir is not a lost cause
Posted by Faheem Belharvi
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 – There is no doubt that the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan is not just a conflict of unfinished partition plan approved by the King and the British parliament, but history shows it was all done by design and thus a legacy of British colonial rule; today it has a central place in the troubled relationship of the two neighbors India and Pakistan and is a root cause for much of the militancy and extremism present in both countries. That is why a solution of the conflict is needed in the interest of people of both the countries and the Kashmiri people. Declaring it a ‘lost cause’ as Mr. Saeed Qureshi in his column from Dallas has tried to do is neither true nor a solution to the problem itself.
Even if India and Pakistan would say ‘forget about it’ Kashmiri’s would not, and many Indian and Pakistani people would not either. Every student of history knows the fact that territory comprising Gilgit, Baltistan and Kargil, Leh now with Laddakh was having more then thousand year old history of independent rule, after which Laddakh fell to Gulab Singh’s commander Zorawer Singh then in 1840. The man also invaded Baltistan and captured the Raja of Skardu because he had sided with the Ladakhi people but a year later in 1841 when General Zorawer Singh attacked Tibet he perished with his troops because of the extremely cold winter to unfold new chapter under the scheme of things. Five years later the territory came under the rule of the Dogra dynasty ruling mainly Jammu & Sirinagar and part of Dogra clan territory in Himachal Pardesh as a result of the Treaty of Lahore of 9th March 1846 guaranteed by the Lahore State it was sold to British for Rs. Ten Million; later another Treaty of Amritsar was signed to hand over all this territory to a rich dogra Gulab Singh on payment of Rs. 75 Lakhs.
In 1935 British felt threatened by China & Russia so Gilgit Agency including Chitral and Baltistan were taken on 60 year lease from the Dogra ruler, but under their hidden design to sabotage and steal the fruits of partition from Muslims population in India this lease agreement was suddenly revoked on 1st August 1947 and Brigadier Ghansara Singh was made Governor of Gilgit agency with Major Brown as commandant of Gilgit Scouts to pave the way for continuation of Dogra rule by the British. The British forgot that such arrangements would not stop will of the people to decide their future as agreed in the partition plan and that it would not deter the people to win freedom themselves. As a consequence ‘freedom fighters’ spirit and sacrifice created major questions connected to Kashmir like the question of right or wrong of the Two-Nation-Theory and partition itself as well as water problems arising from manipulated partition and other acts done by British viceroy in Indian favour.
Mr. Qureshi now settled in US seems to think that Kashmir is a lost cause because the whole of the Jammu and Kashmir state ruled by Maharaja Singh should have come to Pakistan. Well, there are many questions involved into it of legal, of military and of political and ethical nature. Did the Maharaja rule the part that today has been renamed ‘Gilgit–Baltistan’ at the time of partition at all and is this part thus part of Kashmir or not? Was the Maharaja legally entitled to accede to India on 26th October 1947? One wonders then why Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru begged from UN to pass 5 resolutions for withdrawal of troops by both India & Pakistan in 1948-9, why UNMOG was accepted, US Admiral Chester Nimitz was also appointed on his request as plebiscite administrator in 1949. Brave Balti & Gilgiti liberators had captured more then 63000 square miles territory apart from Gilgit & Baltistan in Kargil & Leh that remained under their control till May 1949.
If Maharaja’s accession was lawful then the accession of the ruler of Junagadh and the decision of the Nizam of Hyderabad to accede to Pakistan should also have been valid and upheld by India which was not the case. If the ruler had no right and referendum had to be taken as it was done in Junagarh then that should be valid for Kashmir also. And after all, even if the ruler was entitled to decide, would his decision be legally admissible given the duress under which he was acting? Nothing to talk about the case that he never signed the document before the landing of the Indian troops in Srinagar, which has been argued very convincingly by the British scholar Alaister Lamb in his book written based on extensive study of the Indian archives. In that case the landing of Indian troops in Srinagar was a naked Indian aggression. While these questions do nothing to help the situation today, they still have to be answered so as to finally resolve the conflict.
Part of the blame for the bleeding of Kashmir wound go to the UNSC that was involved into the conflict resolution by India and that produced nothing but a couple of toothless resolutions that India refused to accept and implement later. The UNSC and the international community have allowed the conflict to linger on like they have done in the case of Palestine and are even if indirectly responsible for the violence and militancy that the unresolved conflicts have created over decades. Now the same international community is creating new such herds of conflict by pushing and aiding an armed uprising against Syria’s elected government. The history of Libya and Egypt are more examples of the same. That is why any hope for mediation by the UN, the EU or the International court of justice is going to be a waste of time and money and will not bring any solution because UNO has become a second fiddler to USA. It is also quite clear that the conflict can not be solved today by military means. This statement includes Pakistan as much as India because ultimately the will of the Kashmiri people will prevail. And this is so because the conflict which is much more than a conflict about territory would not be solved by war and conquest. It is high time that all of us recognize this fact.
Where does this leave us with regard to Kashmir? Is everything lost? It is Not but the solutions that are possible today may not be those that are in the minds of the politicians and people like Mr. Qureshi. We will have to revise our expectations, attitude and our stand according to the ground realties. And ground realty tells us that today there is a strong third party, the Kashmiri people whose aspirations can not be neglected these days as it would have been possible ( but equally unethical) in the past. Kashmiris in their frustration with 65 years of trampling upon their interests seem to have decided that neither India nor Pakistan are good enough for them to secure their birth right of freedom. This is a stand that can no longer be ignored but has to be introduced into the equation. Kashmir is not lost but it has to be won by all parties concerned. God bless Pakistan.(Ali Ashraf Khan)