It’s been almost three months now, and each day brings news of curfew, stone pelting and pellet guns, tear gas and rubber bullets, and the tragedy of avoidable loss of life and injuries of civilians, police and army personnel. The last event that has shaken every corner of the nation, every segment of society and every political party is the Uri attack by Pakistani sponsored terrorists which left 18 army personnel dead. I pay my homage to them and salute them for their supreme sacrifice in defending our country, and pray for their families for coming to terms with their loss.
I am extremely perturbed that the Chief Minister of J&K, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, has advised the Prime Minister of a three-pronged action plan, to resolve the Kashmir issue, ‘including involvement of separatists and Pakistan in substantive dialogue…’ Is she not aware that the problem has been settled not once but four times? And that in spite of the commitments at Tashkent and Shimla, Pakistan’s perfidy has never ceased? As the most monstrous reincarnation of terrorism in the world today, Pakistan is still determined to capture the whole of J&K through the terrorism that it is perpetrating in the valley, acting as a partner of the IS and other jihadi terror groups.
I would like to tell Mehbooba that her advice for dialogue with Pakistan is anti-national, and Pakistan is not a stakeholder at all in the Kashmir issue. Kashmir is an integral part of India, constitutionally , legally and morally something that is non-negotiable. It is the people of Kashmir with whom the dialogue should be held and it is she who must lead it as Chief Minister. The Human Rights groups’ concerns shall be respected, provided their demands are rational and take into account the terrorist behaviour of Pakistan, and its export of terrorism into Kashmir.
I fail to understand why Kashmir is still perceived as a problem that has yet to be solved. It has been solved four times – the first time in 1947, when Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Union of India, after a fully armed section of the Pak army disguised as tribal’s invaded the state and almost reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Both under the Constitution as well as International Law the whole of Jammu and Kashmir became fully a legitimate part of sovereign India. The Indian forces succeeded in driving back the attacking tribals and could have taken the whole of J&K, including what we call Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, (POK). But it was Nehru’s folly to accept an armistice, while part of the state territory still remained to be taken over. But both by domestic and international law, the title of India to the entire territory of the state of J&K (including what we call Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, POK) is unchallengeable in law.
The second time the Kashmir issue was solved was after the 1965 war, when Pakistan again resorted to an illegal war to conquer our side of Kashmir by armed force. Pakistan lost badly, and the war ended with the Tashkent Declaration, the essence of which lies in two promises:
(i) Neither Party shall change the present status quo by force or violence or war;
(ii) Neither will carry on any propaganda for changing it.
Pakistan should be grateful for Indian magnanimity – we gave them much more than what they deserved. India has virtually made a moral promise not to claim any part of POK. But this assumes that Pakistan will never make any claim even to even one inch of Indian Kashmir. If Pakistan repudiates by word or deed any part of the Tashkent Declaration, India’s claim to POK will remain fully alive and enforceable before any International Tribunal.
The third time the Kashmir issue was resolved was after the 1971 war when Bangladesh broke away. The Shimla Agreement of 1972, in its reference to J &K states in Para vi) (ii) “In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line.”
Do these agreements leave any doubt that the Kashmir issue has yet to be decided between India and Pakistan? In both the Tashkent and Shimla Agreements, the status quo on Kashmir has been accepted by Pakistan. And India has shown great generosity to Pakistan by agreeing to it.
I would also like to ask the people of Kashmir whether they are aware that vast tracts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in the Gilgit-Baltistan region have been gifted to China? Does this not invalidate Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir? Do the Kashmiri people need any further proof that Pakistan has no respect or love for the people of J & K and have no qualms about pawning vast tracts of J &K to China as bribes, in their obeisance to China?
It is well established that the continuous violence in Kashmir is being triggered from across the border, through infiltration of the IS and the numerous Pakistan sponsored terrorist outfits such as JEM. It is also now an accepted fact that Pakistan is in league with the IS as the breeding ground for rearing and cultivating terrorist mercenaries across the world, be it Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, or the US. Notorious terrorists involved in several terrorist attacks that have taken place across the world are invariably reported to have done their terrorist training and radicalization stint in Pakistan.
Another question I would like to ask is why are Kashmiri parents allowing their children and not preventing them in indulging in dangerous and illegal stone attacks against the police or security forces? I would hold the parents completely responsible for permitting their children to commit these crimes, and then seeking sympathy for them and their children.
Our defence forces should certainly be in a position of great alert, because Pakistan’s intentions are becoming increasingly more sinister. India has no intention of being an aggressor, but will not hesitate to retaliate in fullest strength, should the situation require it. And we are not a nation of cowards or afraid of going to war, should the situation so require. This has amply been reflected through the recent speeches of our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in Kerala and the UNGA.
I have chaired the Kashmir Committee from 2002, and in 2002-03 had several rounds of talks with the Hurriyat leaders. The talks produced an agreement declared publicly by the Hurriyat in Delhi that:
1) Terrorism and violence are taboo.
2) A lasting and honourable peaceful resolution must and can be found.
3) The resolution must be acceptable to all political elements and regions of the state.
4) Extremist positions held by all for the previous five decades have to be and will be abandoned.
5) Kashmiri Pandits will be rehabilitated with honour and rights of equality.
A careful understanding of the five points of the agreement show that abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India on the one hand and secession on the other were consciously and finally abandoned. The polestar of the peace process would thereafter be the legitimate interests and rational expectations of all elements and regions in the composite state.
This agreement brought joy to every Indian and to most Kashmiris. The moderate section of the Hurriyat had repudiated the extremists and, at the same time, carried on talking to the Kashmir Committee with the full concurrence of the Pakistan authorities. It is tragic that the usual wooden-headedness of the Government of India blocked a formal solution. At the International Kashmir Peace Conference held in Washington, my friend Ashraf Jehangir Kazi, the distinguished ambassador of Pakistan to the United States argued that the Kashmir Committee had initiated a process of acceptable change. If anyone refuses to accept this, it would only show that he is an enemy of peace, regardless of his pretended postures and rhetorical assertions.
Pakistan’s terrorism in Kashmir cannot intimidate India. Kashmir is non-negotiable, and India has a strong legal and constitutional case vis a vis Kashmir. If Pakistan continues to flout its treaty obligations from Tashkent and Shimla, we should not shy away from referring the matter to the International Court of Justice, with an irrevocable pledge to abide by the verdict.
Pakistan can only lose POK, which we have very generously allowed them to keep.