Peace Process: Hidden Agenda
by Mohan Krishen Teng on 23 Apr 2011 24 Comments

Now that the Government of India has repeated its Sharm-el-Sheikh performance at Thimpu and offered to resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan, virtually overturning the stand it had taken in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Mumbai, it has much to explain about what it intends to do in Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi’s climb-down on crucial issues in its policy in respect of Jammu and Kashmir reflects a willful surrender. This perhaps emanates from its inability to face political blackmail and pressure brought to bear on Indian leaders in the name of economic development and peace and security of the region.


Indian policy reflects a strange sense of helplessness, which pervades the outlook of the political class and acts as an impelling force to drive those in power to invite Pakistan to the conference table again and again after every small and major misdemeanour Pakistan commits. Each time, Pakistan returns to the conference table grumbling and growling at the inability of the Indian Government to make the composite dialogue purposeful and result-oriented. The cause of concern is not the abrasive attitude of Pakistan, but the uneasiness with which the Indian political class reacts to it.


New Delhi has, with deliberate intent, tried to play down the way Islamabad has expressed dissatisfaction with the purpose and pace of the peace-process. The Indian leadership has shown reluctance to lay down a baseline of its policy on the Kashmir issue. In fact, the Indian political class has so far evaded the crucial decision of fixing the “irreducible minimum”, beyond which it would not go to reach a settlement with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir.


Its exhortations to the Indian Government “to walk an extra-mile” from its “stated positions” to reach an “out of the box” solution of the Kashmir problem and its eagerness to nudge New Delhi “to go far enough in its engagement with Pakistan, to reach a settlement on Kashmir”, are expressions used to camouflage its own subterfuge. The Indian political class has never mustered courage to stand up to its neighbours. Nor has it ever shared with the Indian people its vision about defending the borders of India.


Muslim outlook


The Government of Pakistan, its military establishment, and Pakistan civil society, are all agreed upon the baseline vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan civil society has on no occasion found it necessary to urge the Government of Pakistan “to walk an extra-mile” to reach an “out of the box settlement” on Kashmir. Pakistan has stuck to its stated position that: (a) the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir are a part of the Muslim nation of Pakistan (b) the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir acquired the right to unite the State with the Muslim homeland of Pakistan from the partition of India, (c) the Muslims of the State were denied their right to unite the state with Pakistan in 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India against their wishes, and (d) India, which pledged to implement the United Nations resolutions envisaging a plebiscite to enable the Muslims of the State to determine the final disposition of the State in respect of accession, has not redeemed its promise.


From the inception of the peace-process, which was primarily an Indian initiative, Pakistan has unflinchingly averred that its claim to Jammu and Kashmir, based upon the Muslim majority composition of the population, is non-negotiable. Pakistan has stressed time and again that its claim to Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of its Muslim majority population underlines the principle on the basis of which India was divided in 1947 and the Muslim homeland of Pakistan created.


Pakistan has repeatedly asserted that the partition of India marked the culmination of a historical process which underlined the Muslim struggle for a separate Muslim homeland in India, comprising the provinces and the regions of British India populated by the majority of Muslims, and Muslim princely states. Pakistan has consistently held that the partition of India recognized the Muslim majority composition of the population of British India and the princely States as the basis on which the territorial jurisdiction of the Muslim homeland was determined. The Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has claimed unequivocally, is a manifestation of the unfinished agenda of the partition.


The Muslim League laid claim to the Muslim-ruled princely states as well, on the basis of prescription and conquest, because it could not bring itself to accept their exclusion from the Muslim homeland of Pakistan. Muslim League leaders considered Muslim ruled princely states as citadels of Muslim power in India, which had survived the establishment of British rule in India. Muslim League insistence on the lapse of Paramountcy was to isolate Muslim-ruled states. Except that the lapse of Paramountcy caused the Muslim League some tactical disadvantage in Jammu and Kashmir, its acceptance by the Congress brought India to the verge of disintegration.


Were it not for the people of the Muslim-ruled States, who defeated the designs of the League and the Muslim rulers, India would have been divided further. The ideological commitment of the Muslim struggle for a separate Muslim homeland in India, to secure Muslims a separate freedom to realize their Islamic destiny, was fundamentally Muslim in outlook. The territorial claim to a Muslim India, comprising Muslim majority provinces of British India and Muslim ruled States that the Pakistan Resolution envisaged, was also Muslim in outlook. The claim that the unification of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan is the unfinished agenda of partition is also Muslim in outlook.


Irreducible Minimum


Pakistan has not allowed any ambiguity in its stand on Jammu and Kashmir. It has spelt out the baseline and has refused to deviate from its position that the Muslim majority composition of the population of the State is basic to any settlement on Jammu and Kashmir. It has refused to delink the Muslim majority composition of the state from the right of self-determination, which it has consistently maintained, flowed from the partition of India.


Exactly as the Muslim League agreed to divide the Muslim majority provinces of the Punjab and Bengal and the Hindu majority provinces of Assam on the basis of population, Pakistan has offered to accept division of the State on the basis of population, as a basis for a settlement on Jammu and Kashmir. It has proposed separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State - the Muslim province of Kashmir, Muslim majority districts of Jammu province, and Muslim majority district of Kargil in the frontier division of Ladakh - and their unification with the Muslim homeland of Pakistan as the irreducible minimum for a solution of the dispute. Pakistan’s participation in the peace process, in the ultimate analysis, is aimed at persuading the Indian people to accept the application of the principle which underlined the partition as a basis of a settlement on Kashmir.


Interestingly, the peace-process between the Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif Governments; the negotiations between the Vajpayee Government and the military regime headed by General Musharraf; the long atrocious talks at the Track Two level, largely a framework of conflict resolution fabricated by American diplomacy; and the Manmohan Singh-Musharraf parleys leading to a so-called “non-territorial settlement” on Kashmir; all reveal a continuity in the Pakistani stand. This underlines separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State on the Indian side of the Line of Control, their eventual disengagement from the Indian Union, and re-integration within a framework of political imperatives evolved by India and Pakistan, with the consent of the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir.


The Musharraf Plan exposed the perfidy. It recognized the separation of the Muslim majority regions of the State and their reorganization into a new political entity on the territories of India and governed by Pakistan. The Musharraf Plan envisaged division of the State into seven geographical zones of which five were Muslim majority zones; the transfer of power in the state to Muslim separatist regimes under the garb of self-rule; withdrawal of Indian armed forces from the State in the name of demilitarization; unification of the Muslim majority zones situated on the Indian side of the Line of Control with the occupation territories of Azad Kashmir under the cover of “irrelevant borders;” and the placement of the State under the joint-control of India and Pakistan.


Manmohan Singh cried aloud, undoubtedly to attract the attention of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and perhaps Muslims in India, to the historical task he had accomplished by putting Jammu and Kashmir on a ten year long journey to join Pakistan. The Musharraf Plan provided for revaluation of the arrangements made in accordance with its provisions after ten years, a stipulation the Indian Government tried to underplay.


Greatest Betrayal


Pakistan appears to have convinced itself that India has finally accepted the principle of the partition of India as the basis of a settlement of Jammu and Kashmir. Evidently the impatience and urgency the Foreign office of Pakistan has exhibited about the progress of the peace process arises out of eagerness to evolve a procedure for separation of Muslim majority regions of the State, their disengagement from the Union of India, and their eventual integration with the Islamic power-structure of Pakistan.


The territorial boundaries of Pakistan, laid down by partition in 1947, were confined to the territories of British India. The Indian princely states were not brought within the scope of the partition. The claim Pakistan has laid to Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of Muslim majority composition of its population did not from part of the process of partition and transfer of power in India. The right of self-determination of the colonial peoples was an expression of the historic process of decolonization that the Second World War set in motion. The right of self-determination was never conceived as an instrument of any religious war. India was not divided to ensure the Indian people their right of self-determination.


Jammu and Kashmir forms the most crucial part of the northern frontier of India. It continues to be central to the security of the Indian borders in the north. Any prescription for a second partition of India, to disengage the State from the Indian Union, will not usher peace between India and Pakistan. Peace between the two countries will always depend upon the mutual respect they have for each other’s strike capabilities. The Indian political class, whatever the nature of its commitment to Indian unity, cannot ignore the hard fact that Pakistan has a stockpile of nearly two hundred nuclear weapons in its basement. Pakistan is an ideological state – a fact the Indian people can overlook at their own peril.



Prof MK Teng is Political Adviser, Panun Kashmir, and retired Professor & Head of the Political Science Department, Kashmir University, Srinagar

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top