Friday, 30 May 2008

Kashmir Dispute: Is war the only solution

Kashmir Dispute: Is war the only solution
Shabir Choudhry

The present situation on the border is alarming to say the least. Whether one agrees with it or not, the fact is that there is a war on the borders. What India wants to achieve from this war is to “flush” out the Mujahidin, and try to avoid further embarrasment and ease the international pressure. But it looks that the Mujahidin are well dug in and despite the use of airforce and tens of thousands of troops, India is fighting a losing battle here.

At the start of the Kargil trouble, Indian government claimed to “flush” out the Mujahidin within 48 hours. After seven days of continue war the government has even offered a “safe passage”. This in itself is a defeating attitude. The Indian government has realised that it is not that easy to defeat the Mujahidin dug in on top of the mountains. The longer this goes on bad it is from the Indian point of view.

The spirit of these militant organisations is so high that they have offered India a “safe passage”, if the Indian forces wanted to leave Kashmir peacefully. They are saying it is India that is the occupying power in Kashmir, and it should be India to march out as well. This is good as far as rhetoric goes, but it is not feasible for these Mujahidin to defeat India without directly involving Pakistan in it.

It is very likely that the present trouble in Kargil would be localised and it would not escalate in to nuclear or conventional war between India and Pakistan. But what would be the consequences if Pakistan comes into the scenario and a full -scale war develops between the two countries. There are hawks on both sides of the border who want the present trouble to develop in to a full -scale war. To them there are advantages of this. May be this is true for some, but people at large are not going to benefit from the war.

War, even the conventional one, is a very expensive and destructive. It is bad as it is for the people who are suffering on both sides of the border, and all these people happened to be Muslim. It is also possible that a limited war will suit both countries. It will certainly help the BJP to get back into office, especially if they don’t lose any thing of importance. It may also suit the Pakistani government to take the attention away from many internal problems and especially problems related to the economy.

The question is can we afford to have a war. Apart from human loss and suffering, Pakistan has serious economical problems. Whereas Indian foreign reserves stand at around $20 billion, the Pakistani reserves are only one billion. With shattered economy and serious problems with regard to law and order and investment, can Pakistan afford to have a war. Even though the Indian economy looks in a better position, but there are millions of people below the poverty line – people do not have access to clean water or two meals a day. In a situation like this it is not proper for India and Pakistan to go to war with each other.

Another danger with the war is that once it starts, no one knows how it will end. The important thing for the world community at that time would be to stop the war, and attention would be given to repair the damage of the war rather than the cause, like it happened in 1965. My fear is that war is going to push the Kashmir issue behind the scene and attention would be focussed on the problems resulting from the war. So whereas the war like situation can help the Kashmir cause, the actual war is going to damage it.

The question is how avoid this war. Full credit goes to the Mujahidin who once again brought the Kashmir issue back on the international agenda. The international community can apply pressure on both governments to start dialogue with the true representatives of the Kashmiri people and resolve the dispute according the wishes of the people. To help the matter UN General Secretary can appoint an envoy to facilitate the process. It is very clear that the world community CANNOT remain silent spectator on the issue of Kashmir, and appropriate steps would have to be taken to avert a disastrous war in South Asia.
Shabir Choudhry

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