Where is the ultra nationalist BJP?
by Hari Om on 03 Oct 2009 5 Comments

“Some Azadi” for J & K
It was on May 2 this year that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media persons that he and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had virtually reached an agreement over Kashmir – a non-territorial solution, but they couldn’t give it practical shape because certain domestic developments in Pakistan tied the hands of the Pakistani President.

One such development was the unending personal feud between the Pakistani President and Pakistani Chief Justice, whom the former sacked. The Prime Minister made public what had transpired between the Indian back channels and the Indian Foreign Office and the Pakistani back channels and those dealing with foreign affairs and Jammu & Kashmir when the people of India were participating in the crucial 15th general elections.

What Dr. Manmohan Singh told media persons that day was reported by the print and electronic media. In fact, it got ample coverage. It was expected that the BJP would take on the Prime Minister and oppose tooth and nail the kind of solution he had hinted at. It was hoped because the BJP had all along sought to create an impression that it will not allow New Delhi to compromise its position on Jammu and Kashmir; it was hoped because BJP always gave the nation to understand that it was opposed to Article 370 and that it wanted the state’s full integration with India as it was its integral part; it was hoped all the more because the BJP always asserted that Syama Prasad Mookerjee laid down his life for the national cause in Kashmir and that it was committed to follow the path charted by the founder president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), come what may.

You may put in any amount of effort to find out if the BJP even once reacted to what the Prime Minister told the media. What an irony!

It needs to be recalled that what Dr. Manmohan Singh told the media was what Pervez Musharraf had been saying, particularly since the spring of 2007, and his speeches had attracted media attention across the world.

What, according to him, was the agreement reached between Islamabad and the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government and what were its main characteristic features? Musharraf would tell media persons everywhere that “I came out with a broad outline”, which included “gradual demilitarization of the Line of Control and Kashmiri cities; maximum self-governance on both sides of the Line of Control; a joint governing mechanism for Kashmir, to include Pakistanis, Indians, and local Kashmiri leaders; and, most important, a porous Line of Control… I wanted to make the Line of Control irrelevant, to open it on six to eight places and let trade flourish… That way Pakistan could say the line was finished and India could say it still existed…”

Pervez Musharraf would also say that “he hoped to implement this framework ‘for 15 years’. And then (both sides could) revisit it and see how to move forward”. He would repeat that “the Line of Control would become almost irrelevant after 15 years”. He reiterated what he had been repeatedly saying in Philadelphia last month, and reasserted, “We were close… I only wish the two governments would start again. The leaders needed to be open-minded and bold… I thought we had to have peace for the sake of the entire region, and for India and Pakistan…”

He told all this to Trudy Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer). He also told her that “we could reap a lot of economic advantages… (I) authorized secret ‘back channel’ talks by special envoys in hotel rooms in Bangkok, Dubai and London from 2004 to 2007. The talks got little attention in the US media until a detailed article by South Asia expert Steve Coll in the New Yorker in March 2009… The envoys worked on a framework for resolving three major boundary disputes. The first two – over the 20,000-foot Siachen glacier and the Sir Creek waterway between India and Pakistan – could be solved tomorrow… As for Kashmir, (he) devised a compromise for a seemingly intractable problem: India insists it will never negotiate its current border, including the Line of Control, and Pakistan insists this is not acceptable”.

What Musharraf told Trudy Rubin has also been published as an article “Kashmir deal could have eased task in Afghanistan”. Should it be presumed that it and what Pervez Musharraf has been saying all over the world, including London and United States, escaped the attention of BJP think-tanks in Delhi? If so, it is a pity. What kind of think-tanks and policy-planners does BJP have?

Let us accept for the sake of argument that what Trudy Rubin and Pervez Musharraf have said has escaped the attention of BJP think-tanks. But what about a front-page report, “Kashmir may get some Azadi”, in a leading national daily (The Hindustan Times, Sept 26)? Has it also escaped the attention of BJP think-tanks and spokespersons who appear on television shows regularly and make adverse comments on their political rivals and talk about Kashmir and issues related to it? It appears they have not read the said report, which was quite frightening and disturbing.

It is really shocking that none of the BJP spokespersons, or for that matter any of the top-ranking party leaders, including L K Advani and Rajnath Singh, has taken cognizance of the said report and reacted. This disturbing report had, among other things, said: “After a long policy lull in Kashmir, top government officials are now considering an amendment in the constitution to give more powers, going beyond the special status it enjoys under Article 370 of the constitution, sources aware of deliberations at political and bureaucratic levels told HT. They cannot be named due to the sensitivity of the talks. It mirrors former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point formula on Kashmir…”

In other words, the report clearly suggested that the Congress-led UPA Government has made up its mind to tinker with Indian sovereignty in Jammu & Kashmir by enabling Islamabad to exercise co-equal powers with New Delhi in the State and giving respectability to the intolerant and exclusivist ideology as advocated by the radical Islamists in Kashmir.

To assume the BJP is not aware of this report would be too much. They have gone through it. They are maintaining silence because BJP has perhaps made common cause with Congress and Islamabad in order to woo Muslim voters. Their stoic silence needs to be viewed in this context.

This is a dangerous situation – dangerous for two reasons One is that the Congress and BJP appear working in tandem to harm paramount national interests and give major concessions to Kashmiri extremists and Islamabad. The other is that both these so-called nationalist organizations are out to throw the State’s religious and ethnic minorities to the Kashmir-based extremists and fundamentalist forces.

Congress and the BJP would do well to remember that the people of Jammu and Ladakh and displaced Kashmiri Hindus would not allow these outfits to do what they are contemplating. They must not forget 2008 and 2009, when the nationalist forces comprehensively defeated all those seeking to harm Jammu and outrage the religious, patriotic and regional sensitivities of its people.

To forget these two epoch-making years in Jammu would be to invite more trouble. The authorities in New Delhi must abandon the suicidal path and bring the state at par with other states of the Union. There is no other alternative.                         

The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu

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