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Speech at the IAKF Convention 2001, Fremont, CA PDF Print
Written by Capt. S. K. Tikoo   
Tuesday, 01 May 2001 00:00

For a decade and more, Kashmir has been bleeding. Diverse measures initiated by various quarters from time to time have not been able to staunch this flow of blood. There may have been periods of seeming remission, yet deliverance is nowhere in sight. What has happened? Why are these tragic latitudes condemned thus? Nowhere has death been as meaningless. Some sorry visitation has left a once happy people dumb, and defenceless. To understand the mechanics of this visitation, one needs to go a little back in time.

The Indian subcontinent is the only unfortunate region in the world that underwent a formal partition along supposedly religious lines. The award was handed down by the imperial power that was leaving the region, through its designated commissioner, Sir Cyril Radcliffe. This gave rise to two successor states, only one of which was declared to be a religious state ? the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The rump state of India was a multi?religious, multi?ethnic, and multi-cultural democracy that had an Islamic population in excess of that of Pakistan. The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which existed on the Indian side of Radcliffe's line, was much like this Indian dominion in terms of its ethnic mix. This state formally acceeded to the Indian dominion after Pakistan had intruded upon its territory and annexed a third of its land. The seeds of the present nightmare lie in this complex part of India's history, an important facet of which was India's reference to the United Nations and the evolution of the concept of a plebiscite in the entire state after Pakistan had vacated its occupation. Pakistan never did this. It also allowed populations to mix freely across the line that Radcliffe had drawn. The plebiscite was never held and the United Nations has lately termed its resolutions mentioning this as irrelevant.

The basic question that we must attempt to answer is this ? is the so?called insurgency in Kashmir an expression of its sub?national aspirations or ethnicity? If so, what is the locus standi of Pakistan apart from being a sympathetic neighbour? Or is this insurgency a religious movement directed towards realisation of the unfinished agenda of India's partition. In that case, why should the burden of jehad be borne by Kashmiris? Even a cursory analysis of the events of the past decade will give us the answer. This answer begs a further question. Can religion be the sole ideological underpinning of a modern independent nation?state? Quite clearly the answer has to be in the negative. Furthermore, the ruse of Pakistan in calling its war in Kashmir an insurgency has been exposed following its fiat in asking all people seeking electoral office in Pakistan to make the written declaration that Kashmir is a part of Pakistan. Civilizationally, Kashmir was never outside of India. Culturally, Kashmir was the essential India. Geopolitically, Kashmir has always been India. Economically, Kashmir cannot be imagined without India. Then what is Pakistan's case?

It is not without significance that a geo?cultural region that has historically been the foundry in which an Indian consciousness was forged, is today in turmoil. This Indian consciousness is characterised by an all?inclusive and catholic vision where many important religions of the world flowered in their most ennobling form. Tolerance, peaceful co?existence, respect for other faiths and beliefs, piety and truth mark this vision which is at the core of all religions. For entities that exist on other assumptions, whether those entities are countries or parties or movements or trends, this vision represents a threat to their very existence. Pakistan has, and always will, want to undermine this vision, this idea that is India ?- for Pakistan is the classic entity of this kind. It has come about without any political ideology, its genesis being based purely on the notion of religious exclusivity ?- an anachronism in the modern world. Kashmir has been the crucible in which Pakistan has repeatedly tried to work out its existential dilemma. Curiously, the people of Kashmir valley are also faced with an existential crisis of their own. Kashmir, which was the last bastion of a progressive, humane and tolerant reading of Islam ? the religion of peace ? was systematically pulled down into the purgatory of fundamentalism while its people looked on as gullible, and later terrified, spectators. Religious bigotry was the hallmark of what apologists termed as the ‘struggle’ of the Kashmiri people. This culminated in the ethnic cleansing of nearly half a million non?Muslim people from Kashmir. Is this the definition of a ‘struggle’?

From Afghanistan to Lebanon and Kosovo to Aceh, Islamic religious fundamentalism has surfaced in many manifestations. The major text in Kashmir is the same. And Pakistan is not only the agent provocateur, it is the principal pro­active player in the region. It is high time that its bluff is called, a roadmap to strategic sovereignty drawn up, and some sanity restored to the mad gridlock in the region.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 September 2010 00:56
 

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