Peace Process: Hidden Agenda
Mohan Krishen Teng
Indian policy reflects a strange sense of helplessness, which pervades the outlook of the political class and acts as an impelling force to drive those in power to invite Pakistan to the conference table again and again after every small and major misdemeanour Pakistan commits. Each time, Pakistan returns to the conference table grumbling and growling at the inability of the Indian Government to make the composite dialogue purposeful and result-oriented. The cause of concern is not the abrasive attitude of Pakistan, but the uneasiness with which the Indian political class reacts to it.
The Government of Pakistan, its military establishment, and Pakistan civil society, are all agreed upon the baseline vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan civil society has on no occasion found it necessary to urge the Government of Pakistan “to walk an extra-mile” to reach an “out of the box settlement” on Kashmir. Pakistan has stuck to its stated position that: (a) the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir are a part of the Muslim nation of Pakistan (b) the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir acquired the right to unite the State with the Muslim homeland of Pakistan from the partition of India, (c) the Muslims of the State were denied their right to unite the state with Pakistan in 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India against their wishes, and (d) India, which pledged to implement the United Nations resolutions envisaging a plebiscite to enable the Muslims of the State to determine the final disposition of the State in respect of accession, has not redeemed its promise.
Pakistan has not allowed any ambiguity in its stand on Jammu and Kashmir. It has spelt out the baseline and has refused to deviate from its position that the Muslim majority composition of the population of the State is basic to any settlement on Jammu and Kashmir. It has refused to delink the Muslim majority composition of the state from the right of self-determination, which it has consistently maintained, flowed from the partition of India.
Exactly as the Muslim League agreed to divide the Muslim majority provinces of the Punjab and Bengal and the Hindu majority provinces of Assam on the basis of population, Pakistan has offered to accept division of the State on the basis of population, as a basis for a settlement on Jammu and Kashmir. It has proposed separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State - the Muslim province of Kashmir, Muslim majority districts of Jammu province, and Muslim majority district of Kargil in the frontier division of Ladakh - and their unification with the Muslim homeland of Pakistan as the irreducible minimum for a solution of the dispute. Pakistan’s participation in the peace process, in the ultimate analysis, is aimed at persuading the Indian people to accept the application of the principle which underlined the partition as a basis of a settlement on Kashmir.
The Musharraf Plan exposed the perfidy. It recognized the separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State and their reorganization into a new political entity on the territories of India and governed by Pakistan. The Musharraf Plan envisaged division of the State into seven geographical zones of which five were Muslim majority zones; the transfer of power in the state to Muslim separatist regimes under the garb of self-rule; withdrawal of Indian armed forces from the State in the name of demilitarization; unification of the Muslim majority zones situated on the Indian side of the Line of Control with the occupation territories of Azad Kashmir under the cover of “irrelevant borders;” and the placement of the State under the joint-control of India and Pakistan.
Pakistan appears to have convinced itself that India has finally accepted the principle of the partition of India as the basis of a settlement of Jammu and Kashmir. Evidently the impatience and urgency the Foreign office of Pakistan has exhibited about the progress of the peace process arises out of eagerness to evolve a procedure for separation of Muslim majority regions of the State, their disengagement from the Union of India, and their eventual integration with the Islamic power-structure of Pakistan.
Jammu and Kashmir forms the most crucial part of the northern frontier of India. It continues to be central to the security of the Indian borders in the north. Any prescription for a second partition of India, to disengage the State from the Indian Union, will not usher peace between India and Pakistan. Peace between the two countries will always depend upon the mutual respect they have for each other’s strike capabilities. The Indian political class, whatever the nature of its commitment to Indian unity, cannot ignore the hard fact that Pakistan has a stockpile of nearly two hundred nuclear weapons in its basement. Pakistan is an ideological state – a fact the Indian people can overlook at their own peril.
Prof MK Teng is Political Adviser, Panun Kashmir, and retired Professor & Head of the Political Science Department, Kashmir University, Srinagar