Indo-Pak Conflict: Kashmir the epicenter

Bipin Deo: The root problem of Indo-Pak conflict is not procedural, it is structural. A knowledgeable foreign policy commentator, in a conversation, put it, “India has foreign policy and it has Pakistan policy” Now, however piquant that remark may sound, it nevertheless is a terse recognition of the reality. One looks at this reality either through congealed prejudice (hence the relation about bonafide and geniuses’ etc) or through almost atavistic fears (Leading to the entrapment reaction of governments) or as an extension of the internal factor.

Indo-Pak conflict is on the edifice of complexities; between majority and minority, between secular and Islamic, between democracy and dictatorship, between Hinduism and Islam, between USSR and the United States and so on. The conflict over seven decades has been nurtured and nourished by those powers who were in throat-cutting competition in Arms supply and power balances. In the long span of its history, it has had a frequent tussle, confrontation, and clashes causing four wars. This article spotlights how all these wars took place on the epicenter of Kashmir.

With the emergence of Pakistan as the Islamic Republic, it fixed its eyes on Hyderabad and Junagadh hoping that Muslim kings would lend their support to get their kingdoms annexed with Pakistan. By the masterly stroke of diplomacy and political craftsmanship of Iron Man of India, Sardar Patel, the dream of Pakistan was not translated into reality. Avenged by it, Pakistan mustered its strength to bring Kashmir under- its suzerainty. Kashmir then was ruled by King Hari Singh, the clan of Dogras whose procedures Gulab Singh had unified entire Kashmir.

As a kingdom of composite culture tinged with natural beauty metaphorically described as a heaven on earth stood for cosmopolitan ideals. Hari Singh was adamant of maintaining its sovereignty, integrity, and unity without sealing the stamp of annexation either with India or with Pakistan. Perhaps, it was not acceptable to history. Pakistan sent its armies in the guise of Pathan tribes into Territory of Kashmir. In the short period, Pakistan was in the position to bring the king under the tenterhook of its apron to King Hari Singh.

Shuddered by invasion, Hari Singh was left with no alternative than seeking military help form India on 24 October 1947. Pakistan’s plan of capturing Muslim majority stale was foiled by the India Army. The conflagration was extinguished by endurance, tenacity and will power of the Indian Army. Indian Army was in a position to wrest the entire territory of Jammu Kashmir from Pakistan incursion.

It as in this crucial juncture of history, Patel was overshadowed by Nehru, yielding to pressure from Lord Mountbatten, agreed quite unnecessarily to refer Kashmir issue to the United States on 1 January 1948. The United Nation on 13 August 1948 called for the withdrawal of Pakistan troops and it entrusted India with the task of conducting a plebiscite. Pakistan didn’t withdraw its army from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) and India also didn’t conduct plebiscite. Right from that time, the game of claim and blame, evoke and provoke, eye for eyes and tooth for teeth continued on the epicenter of Kashmir.

Nehru with western mind-set was a democrat in his vein, in his orientation and his application and transplantation of his policy. Flying in the flight of idealism, he was utopian, less pragmatic. He wanted to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility with Pakistan. With this broad-vision, stirred by cosmopolitan outlook laced with Gandhian idealism extended the hand of fellow- feeling and friendship with Pakistan. With continuous rounds of six days of dialogue on 1950 April 8, he had a pact with Liyaqat Khan, the supremo of Pakistan.

This Nehru and Liaqat pact committed to taking care of the problem of its minority with the healing touch policy. The Nehru-Liaqat pact, in principle, was driven by the gospel of giving assurance of safety and security to its minorities. In reality, letters of this pact were not translated into action. Hindus in Pakistan were highly elite, cultured and cultivated residing in Lahore and Sindhi provinces.

They felt threatened and insecure by Islamisation of Pakistan. Similar, Kashmiri Pundits even both inside of both Kashmir and Pakistani occupied Kashmir were terrorized, assaulted and assassinated beyond extent. It would be interesting to note for readers among all Brahmins in the world, Kashmir Pundits were most educated and civilized. A research was made in those days even no single Kashmiri pundit was found anywhere jail in the world. It means to say that they were path-finders and torchbearers of the society.

Even inks of Nehru-Liaqat pact had not dried. Pakistan and India again indulged in war. After the death of Nehru, a mantle of leadership fell on a man of diminutive personality trained and schooled in Gandhian school of thought Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri. Like Patel, he was tough like leather. After the 1962 war with China, India was under the trauma of defeat and humiliation. At that crucial period, war broke out between India and Pakistan in 1965. Pakistan had again target to Kashmir but Shastri’s rhetoric was difficult. In his characteristic style of expression, he appealed to mass, “If Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir, I firmly say India is incomplete without Pakistan” . He injected a wave of nationalism in a nation by saying “Jay Jawan Jay Kisan”.

Indian Army was very close to Lahore and Syal Dah. The victory was on the side of India. Credit for it goes to the prime minister of USSR Koshigin who persuaded Shastri to declare a ceasefire. On June 10, 1966, in the presence of soviet leadership in Tashkent again pact was made between India and Pakistan. It is called the Tashkent agreement. This Tashkent Agreement is committed to maintaining a line of control by both countries.

Any conflict and confrontation should be resolved through dialogue and discussion. India made all war- prisoners back and made vacant all its territory that it had captured on the condition that Pakistan wouldn’t have its right to raise the issue of Kashmir in days to come. It is irony of fate that Shastri died after signing the treaty in Tashkent. The death of Shastri is said to be mysterious. It is still in the womb of mystery. In other words like Nehru Lyakat pact, Taskant agreement was also not put into practice.

After the death of Shastri, India Gandhi becomes prime minister of India. In the cabinet of Sastri, she was a minister of Information and Broadcasting. In the war of 1965, she had visited battle infusing energy in the military. In her typical style, she had remarked, ” I am only a man in the cabinet of women”.

Around 1970 Pakistan witnessed conflagration of the civil war based on language, based on Urdu and Bengali, based on East and West Pakistan. No stone was left unturned to suppress oppress and depress Urdu speaking people. 10 million people of Bengali speaking Pakistani people took shelter in India. Mrs. Gandhi hit the nail on the head. She intervened and waged war for 13 days cracking Pakistan becoming a midwife of Bangladesh. 93,000 Pakistani Army were made war prisoners and more than 15,000-kilometer land was captured.

Atal Bihari Bajpai, as a leader of the opposition, praised Mrs. Gandhi saying a leader creates history but Mrs. Gandhi has created Geography. In 1972, the Shimla Agreement was signed signaling that Pakistan would accept that Kashmir is an internal affair of India. It interesting to note that the Shimla Agreement transformed Kashmir from International to the bilateral issue.

After the cold war, a soft, sober and a mind of poetic personality Atal Bihari Bajpee came as a prime minister of India. On the sideline of UNO submit, he had the heart to heart talk with Nawaj Sharif to start an era of harmony and happiness in the tense and troubled Indo-Pak relationship. As a part of it, India initiated Lahore Bus Journey and in 1999 May 21, Lahore decoration was made between India and Pakistan declaring that both countries wouldn’t wage war against each other.

Even in the twinkling of the eye, Pakistan waged war capturing 140 check post in Syachin part of Kargil. In retaliation, India waged “Operation Bijay”. After the Kargil war, America changed its tone and temper. Clinton had a good rapport with the Indian leadership. Nowadays, again the epicenter of Kashmir, tussle between India and Pakistan has been a topic of discussion everywhere. Even Muslim countries, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh have stood by side of India, not to talk of Sri Lanka and others. A country like Nepal has to come out with categorical statement that Kashmir is an internal affair of India and on the epicenter of Kashmir, no war should be waged in the days to come between India and Pakistan.

(The views expressed are personal, the author Bipin Deo is an Educationist based in Kathmandu)