How Not to Find a Solution to the Kashmir Problem Print
Written by Capt. S.K. Tikoo   
Monday, 22 February 2010 00:00

Union Home minister Sh. P Chidambaram is a decent, no nonsense, and a well meaning gentleman. His recent visit to the Valley of Kashmir was wisely acclaimed as a big success he conducted himself very well while addressing a press conference in Srinagar it appears, he mans business and he makes no bones about it. His replies to queries raised by well known journalists were precise and to the point, and the icing was his friendly advice to the press corps was to relax and enjoy and not waste time reading something which was not there in between the lines. My only fear is that he might not end up making the same mistake that his predecessor (belonging to different political parties) made earlier. The basis for such fears is his announcement at the same press conference, that promised:

1.       Negotiation/dialogue will be held without any fanfare, it will be on one to one basis or to a group without any publicity and involvement of third party.

2.       The solution will be unique, since the history and the geography of the state of J&K was unique.

3.       The problem (Kashmir) is political and we will find a political solution.

4.       Solutions to identical problem in the rest of the country cannot be replicated here and vice versa.

Had this sort of the statement been made by any other political leader holding the high office, I would have discounted it as TIME PASS, but when Sh. Chidambaram makes a public announcement of this sort one must sit back and start thinking. Let us discuss these points one by one.


1.       Negotiation/Dialogue. The Home Minister obviously has APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) as the other party to start the dialogue with, in his mind. Now what is APHC? It was a conglomerate of any number of secessionist organizations, claiming to represent the entire Muslim community of the valley of Kashmir. Kashmiris had coined a new name for APHC – ALL Parties Hartaal Conference. A few years back APHC broke into two, one headed by Moulvi Umar Farooq and the other by Syed Ali Shah Geelani; the former is termed as ‘Moderate’ and the latter as ‘Hard Core’. The two factions don’t see eye to eye with each other. It is well known that the factions headed by Umar Farooq is virtually the over ground face of such dreaded terrorist outfits as Al Umar Mujahideen, Al Barq etc and the faction headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani is the upper ground face of another ruthless terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen. But that’s not the end of the parties claiming to represent secessionist and terrorist outfits, it is just the beginning. The founder of terrorism in the state is not part of either of the two APHC’s. It is Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. JKLF is again a divided house, while one faction is headed by Yaseen Malik, the other is headed by Javed Mir, one-time lieutenant of Yaseen Malik. The third faction is headed by an NRK (Non Resident Kashmiri) based in London. Then we have Shabir Shah of Peoples Conference who loves to be called Nelson Mandela of Kashmir also claiming to be the real leader of all anti national elements in the state. Sajad Lone, son of Late Abdul Gani Lone, is waiting for an invite from the Home Minister. He claims to be in possession of a ‘lasting solution to Kashmir problem’ authored by himself to be disclosed at an appropriate time. Hashim Qureshi is waiting in the wings; after all, he is the original hijacker of an Indian Airlines airplane to Lahore some thirty years back. He is also heading an outfit and is expecting an invite for the dialogue. I suggest, before proceeding any further, that the Home Minister ask these separatist outfits to have a dialogue amongst themselves, reach an agreement and come forward with a common agenda on which the dialogue can be held. Even if all these outfits come out with an agreed agenda – a near impossibility – for starting a dialogue with the central government and hoping against hope reach any settlement, will such a settlement solve the vexed problem of Kashmir. The only claim to fame and leadership of the persons named above is their dependence on gun culture. Given a chance Kashmiris will punish them for murder of thousands of Kashmiris, and for bringing untold miseries to them. None of them has a mass base and cannot win an election to local bodies, State assembly or to the parliament. These so-called leaders either themselves or through their proxies tried their luck at the hustings but had to bite the dust. Is it worthwhile to enter into a dialogue process with these discredited and self styled leaders?

2.       The solution will be unique. What is so unique about Kashmir. The history and geography of every part is unique and different. Just because Pakistan invaded Kashmir in 1947 in the false belief that the Muslim majority of the state would welcome the tribal invaders and make the state a part of Pakistan to complete the ‘unfinished agenda’ of two nation theory, doesn’t make the state unique. In fact the absolute majority of Kashmiri Muslims opted for a secular India and spurned the Islamic state of Pakistan in 1947 itself and reaffirmed their faith in secular, pluralist, democratic India repeatedly since then. It is unfortunate that the vast but silent majority of Kashmiri Muslims is suffering at the hands of aggressive miniscule minority of gun wielding  Pak trained and Pak sponsored terrorists who do not hesitate slaughtering a fellow Muslim as a sheep and raising the loud cry of Allah Ho Akbar, bringing  a bad name to the faith they belong to. The Home Minister should create an atmosphere where the terrorist gun is silenced forever and then see for himself that the unique feature of Kashmir is not separatism but the desire of every Kashmiri Muslim to be a proud citizen of a modern prosperous democratic India. As long as the gun is there, this unique characteristic of a Kashmiri Muslim may not be seen.

3.       The problem (Kashmir). This is, unfortunately, the language used by Pakistan and all ANEs (Anti National Elements). In a democracy all problems faced by the people are raised by political parties and the solutions found at administrative level by political means. That is how the governments at the state and central level either fall or get another chance after every election. If the home minister meant that the problems faced by Kasmiris are to be solved politically, it  cannot be disputed, but if picking up arms and challenging the integrity of the nation, creating mayhem, and ethnically cleansing the valley of its original inhabitants numbering around half a million, just because they did not follow the faith of those who had guns in their hands, will make the nation of over one billion people to bend on its knees and try to find out a ‘political solution’ to a law and order problem, will only substantiate the charge  that India is a soft state. If there are any problems faced by Kashmiris, as there are any number of problems faced by the people in the North East, or in the vast tribal areas of central India, the solution is in their hands. The ballot paper is the answer, not the bullet.  

4.       Solutions to identical problem. Let us agree for argument’s sake that the solution for problems in Kashmir cannot be replicated in rest of the country even if the problems are identical because every problem has to be dealt with differently, but if we try to evolve solutions to the Kashmir problem on the basis of it being the only Muslim majority state, we were heading for big trouble. We will be opening a Pandora’s Box and God alone knows what will come out of it, definitely not something to our liking. If some concession is given to Kashmiri Muslins on the basis of their religion, how can the same are denied to other Muslims in rest of the country if and when they ask for such concessions. It will amount to accepting the concept of a two nation theory and that too after a lapse of 62 years and also when this theory has outlived its life in the country of its own creation.

I would very sincerely suggest that the union government, instead of wasting time in reaching out to these separatist outfits with a dialogue offer that will lead us nowhere, make an honest effort in reaching out to Pakistan and seek an honorable solution to the problem that has been eluding a solution for over half a century. After all it is Pakistan that is the fountainhead of terrorism in Kashmir and with our meek response it is now emboldened to broaden its terrorist network throughout India. Let us tell Pakistan very frankly that they should come out of the Zia Ul Haq mindset that Hindu is a coward and cannot stand one or two hard blows. It has lost all the wars it fought against India, it is still living with the ignominy of surrender to an infidel India where it’s elite troops of all ranks and all wings numbering nearly a hundred  thousand were taken as POWs (prisoners of war). Shimla agreement was signed immediately after the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and Late Ms. Indira Gandhi was magnanimous enough to accommodate late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by not inserting those portions in the agreement to which both these dignitaries had agreed to. The LOC (Line of control) was named as LAC (Line of actual control) and that was to be the international border between the two states. India had virtually given up the claim to the one-third of the territory of J&K state now under Pakistan, in a show of brotherhood. This would make Pakistan one of the few countries who would be enjoying the fruits of aggression in this modern post world war two world. But then Pakistan is not prepared to come out of that mindset.

I would like to end this peace by quoting a well known and a veteran Pakistani journalist and a close confidant of field Marshal Ayub Khan, who wrote a series of articles after Kargil war; “The point is that all these operations (the wars of 1947-48, 1965,1971 and Kargil war) were conceived and launched on the basis of one assumption: that the Indians are too cowardly and ill-organized to offer any effective military response which could pose a threat to Pakistan. Ayub Khan genuinely believed as a general rule Hindu morale would not stand more than a couple of hard blows at the right time and place.” The assumption Altaf Gohar has referred to is a conviction that the terrorist jihadi campaign launched by Pakistan will ultimately win and India could be bled through a thousand cuts. Let us take Pakistan out of this myth, and once again offer them the Shimla agreement; and if they reject it, we must say bye and behave and act like any sovereign nation and bide for time to take back our territories from enemy control.