Friday, 30 May 2008

Thank you Jagmohan and Vajpayee

Thank you Jagmohan and Vajpayee
Shabir Choudhry, London

Like any other struggle in life, the Kashmiri struggle for independence has experienced its ups and downs, but two events had negative and positive affects on the Kashmiri struggle. One was the role of Jagmohan as a Governor; and second is the present build up of the forces on the Line of Control.

No doubt majority of Kashmiris were unhappy with the status quo and wanted to determine their future by use of self - determination, but it was Jagmohan and his inhuman treatment that completely turned people of Kashmir against India and the Indian rule. It was his oppressive and brutal use of force that changed dislike of Kashmiris in to hatred and united them to fight against the Indian rule in Kashmir.

It is true people suffered immensely during his rule and they continue to suffer from multiple reasons. However, Jagmohan and his actions not only helped to unite the people but also helped to internationalise the Kashmir dispute, something we Kashmiris failed to accomplish for variety of reasons.

The Kashmiri struggle for independence continued at different paces in 1990s. At times it was perceived as if the struggle was taken over by ‘Guest Jihadis’, which changed complexion of the freedom struggle. This over shadow of the genuine struggle of the Kashmiri people was strongly resented by many sections of the Kashmiri society, and attempts were made to tilt the balance without much success.

Because of many factors the world community was losing interest in the matters of Kashmir, and as the struggle dragged on it immensely increased problems of the ordinary people, hence came the frustration of people who wrongly assumed that independence was around the corner. At a time, when because of various interconnected factors, people were becoming more and more frustrated, came a rescue in the form of nuclear explosions.

Indian nuclear explosion followed by the Pakistani retaliation brought new dimension to the Kashmir dispute and peace and stability of South Asia. Nuclear explosions, though not directly related to the Kashmir dispute, pushed up the issue on international agenda. Soon it was realised by the international community that they have to play a pro - active role in the affairs of South Asia, and help to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

India resisted all the international pressure to resolve the Kashmir dispute and strongly opposed all attempts of mediation; but the Indian intelligentsia finally realised that there is no military solution to the Kashmir problem. Despite all the oppression and human rights violations India could not crush militancy, and militants encouraged by changes in South Asia, resorted to more daring attacks on selected targets which also affected the morale of the armed forces.

After realising that there has to be a political solution, and that India and Pakistan has to live as ‘good neighbours’ to meet challenges of 21st century, Vajpayee made a daring visit to Lahore. It is believed that both Nawaz Sharif and Vajapayee made some important agreements including one on Kashmir. And those who didn’t want this understanding to manifest into agreements leading to resolution of contentious issues between India and Pakistan, opposed this, and according to some reports initiated the Kargil expedition to sabotage this process.

The Kargil adventure nearly brought both nuclear rivals to full- scale war which could have escalated to a nuclear clash, but the day was saved by the American intervention and hasty retreat by Pakistan. The Kargil sent the following messages to all those concerned with the security of South Asia that:
1. The root cause of tension and instability is the issue of Kashmir which had to be resolved;
2. And the issue has to be resolved peacefully either bilaterally or by some other means;
3. LOC has got some kind of ‘sanctity’ and that the international community would not appreciate its violation by either party;
4. Also it created a deep distrust between India and Pakistan; but
5. It brought India and America increasingly closer to each other.

I have always regarded the Kargil adventure as a ‘conspiracy’, and I am not alone in this. Some reports suggest that the Indian intelligence services were aware of coming of Kargil, then like American agencies in the case of Twin Towers, ‘failed to act’ on time. The Kargil was seen by many as a ‘Waterloo’ for the Kashmiri struggle for independence, as it was Kargil that has given some kind of ‘sanctity’ to the LOC; and increasingly people talk of some kind of solution of the Kashmir dispute along the LOC, which of course is contrary to the wishes of people of Kashmir.

However The Kargil adventure gave the Kashmir dispute unprecedented coverage in the world media, hence renewed calls for the resolution of the ‘core issue’ of Kashmir. Another victim of the Kargil was Nawaz Sharif, who was overthrown by his own hand picked man, General Pervaiz Musharaf. Musharaf is believed to have opposed the Lahore Declaration, but for past many months, he is desperately trying to pick up pieces, and is more than willing to be engaged in the process started by Sharif and Vajpayee. Time and again he has said that he is willing to meet Vajpayee and ‘talk at any time, any place and anywhere’.

Initiatives like Cease- fire and Agra Summit also provided appropriate media coverage to the Kashmir dispute but it was the army build up on LOC and along the international border that sent shock waves through out the world; and this in turn, has made Kashmir an international concern. Since this move and ‘eye ball to eye ball’ situation, Kashmir is constantly in news- it has become an international issue, which according to international community has to be resolved. Although as a result of this army build up we Kashmiris are suffering, but good thing is that we can see light at the end of tunnel. There was no way we Kashmiris could have pushed the issue of Kashmir so high up on the international agenda, India has done that for us; and we say thank you for this and hope that the Kashmir issue would be resolved by a process of dialogue between the parties concerned.

Writer is a Kashmiri leader based in London, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir.

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