Tuesday, May 11, 2010


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    • Unfortunately, on the Indian side there is a certain loss of focus accompanied by an almost escapist romanticism, a refusal to see the dark clouds that have always been circling the sun that they can see now. Perhaps the pressure generated by decades of terrorism is telling. Whatever be the reason, it cannot be denied that that many of India's analysts and policy makers are now increasingly inclined to take the easy, early, least disruptive way out of the many problems that confront India, without allowing possible long term repercussions to trouble them unduly.
    • Some of us clearly seem to have have forgotten that Pakistan was created solely on the basis of religion and that its claim over J&K is also based on religion alone, as is the demand for merger of the whole state with Pakistan/independence that ethnic Kashmiris living in the tiny valley of Kashmir have been making for decades. Secular India has somehow collectively moulded itself to pretend that the problem is primarily political in nature and that, as far as India is concerned, it should not view any solution through the prism of religion.

      It is largely due to this elitist, even rootless, aversion to accepting and facing the communal soul of the problem, that Pakistan is well on its way to getting India to agree to a camel-in-the-tent deal that is not only not going to lead to peace but is, without doubt, going to create serious difficulties for India in the long run.
    • The “somewhat artificial in composition” princely state of Jammu and Kashmir came into existence in 1846 when the British sold most of the area included in the state to Gulab Singh for Rs 75 lakhs. In 1947, the then Maharaja of the state, with the support of the ethnic Kashmiri Muslim leader Sheikh Abdullah, decided to join India rather than Pakistan. The price that Abdullah successfully extracted from Pandit Nehru for this decision was the holding of a plebiscite and inclusion of Article 370 in the Indian constitution. These two steps, among many others, converted the state into a virtual Sheikhdom of the Abdullahs and ethnic Kashmiri Muslims.

      In 1956, India was reorganised on a linguistic basis and all erstwhile princely states ceased to exist. Had the same principle been extended to J&K, it would have been reorganised into at least three states/union territories: Kashmiri speaking Kashmir Valley, Dogri, Rajasthani and Punjabi speaking Jammu, and Ladakh. But this was not done because such a reorganisation would have also been broadly along religious lines and, most significantly, left just the tiny Kashmir Valley under the control of Kashmiri Muslims who have nothing in common with people living in other parts of the only remaining unnatural state of India.

      Paradoxically, Pakistan did exactly the opposite, giving precedence to ethnicity over religion to completely reshape the portion of the state that it had captured in 1948, and slice it surgically into three parts. The 72,496 sq km Gilgit-Baltistan area, the largest part of the state that was always administered directly by Pakistan, was was officially granted full autonomy in 2009. It is not a part of the original state. In 1963, Pakistan also unilaterally ceded the 5,800 sq km Shaksgam tract to China.

      What Pakistan now calls Azad Kashmir (AK) is a narrow 13,297 sq km strip that is 400 km long, with a width varying from 16 to 64 km. What is extremely significant is that AK has 99 per cent ethnic Punjabi population comprising of Gujjars, Rajputs, Jats etc. These people have no linguistic, cultural or genetic affinity to the few ethnic Kashmiris, who are of Dardic origin, living there or in the Valley. AK, therefore, has as little claim to being called part of Kashmir as the parts that Pakistan has severed from the part of the original state under its control. It takes little intelligence to deduce that Pakistan has chosen to name this tiny tract Azad Kashmir only so that it can use it to pursue its claim over the part of the original princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that is with India.
    • Let us not be carried away by voices in India imagining that after the deal is through, the LOC will be magically converted into something like the non-existent borders in the European Community, with people moving freely and happily across as civilised human beings who are nicely settled and at peace with each other and the world. We must know that such voices are either ignorant of the realities of religion and history or are pretending to be so, to lull Indians into believing that once the LOC goes, Kashmir will become Europe.

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