Red, White and Black

Rethinking Kashmir
21 December, 2006, 7:54 pm
Filed under: India, Kashmir, Pakistan

Two weeks ago, President Musharraf presented another “out of the box” proposal for the resolution of Kashmir in an interview to India’s NDTV. Details of the proposal can be found here. Summarily, his solution was based on the following four points:

1. Kashmir will have the same borders but people will be allowed to move freely back and forth in the region.
2. The region will have self-governance or autonomy, but not independence.
3. Troops will be withdrawn from the region in a staggered manner.
4. A joint supervision mechanism will be set up, with India, Pakistan and Kashmir represented.

He said that if the the solution was accepted by India, Pakistan would be willing to give up its claim on Kashmir. Needless to say, his words did ruffle quite a few conservative feathers in the country and the Foreign Ministry had to do some fire-fighting. The MoFA clarified:

Pakistan ‘s legal position on the Jammu and Kashmir disputes is based on the UN resolutions. Kashmir is a disputed territory. According to the UN Security Council’s resolutions, Pakistan and India are parties to this dispute and Kashmiris have to essentially decide their future. It is about the aspirations of Kashmiri people. Pakistan does not claim Kashmir as an integral part. Kashmir is disputed. We however, hope that when Kashmiris are able to exercise their right to make a choice, they would opt for Pakistan .

The President did not talk about giving up Pakistan ‘s position on Kashmir . Azad Kashmir has its separate identity with a President and Prime Minister. It is not a province of Pakistan . If it were, there would have been a Governor and Chief Minister instead of President and Prime Minister.

The operative clause in the MoFA statement is that Pakistan’s stance on J&K is based on UN resolutions. I want to tackle two things on this issue here.

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Pakistan not serious, says India
20 March, 2006, 8:30 pm
Filed under: India, Kashmir, Pakistan

The Indian National Security Adviser has declared that

Pakistan did not appear serious about finding a solution to the Kashmir problem and India was confused by suggestions emanating from Islamabad. “Pakistani suggestions will not lead us forward.”

I don’t like his statement. Primarily because it has no ground. Some things that have begun to bug me over the last few month:

One, despite acknowledging that infiltration from the Pakistani side has gone down drastically, there have been no attempts from the Indian side to normalise the situation in Kashmir. Musharraf had made a number of proposals over the last year or so. But I do not recall a single positive response to any of them from India. Why? They have always been declared ‘impractical’ and that’s been the end of the story. What was wrong about the latest demilitarisation proposal presented by Musharraf in his IBN-CNN interview? He was not asking to demilitarise just the Indian side, but also the Pakistani side? Was it not even worth a second thought?

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New Map for Kashmir
27 February, 2006, 4:14 pm
Filed under: India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Politics

The Daily Times reports that Pakistani embassies abroad are floating a new map of Kashmir – a map that deviates from the traditional position of Pakistan on the issue:

The map shows the Northern Areas of the state, which have been officially considered an integral part of the former princely state, as a separate entity, identified simply as the “Northern Areas?. The Line of Control, formerly the Ceasefire Line, has been removed on the map. The entire state, both the Indian-held part and Azad Kashmir, has been shown as one, single, undivided entity, identified as ‘Jammu and Kashmir state’ with the words “disputed territory? appearing in very small letters under this appellation.

Two things to be noted: Contrary to Pakistan’s age-old stance, the Northern Areas are not being considered as part of Kashmir. But then are the Northern Areas to be treated as another autonomous region or as a federally administered area? Or what? Confusion lingers. Secondly, the whole of Kashmir has been termed as “disputed territory” – a significant deviation. I am not sure, what to make of it. Maybe, this map has been released to test the waters – to gauge how people would react to any major deviation from the hackneyed Pakistani stance. On the other hand, it can be considered as yet another signal to India: that Pakistan is willing to give ground and have some serious discussion over the issue. It may also be an attempt to score a point with the Kashmiris – Pakistan does not want to divide the Kashmiri families.

Or it may just be a simple map. But interesting nonetheless.

8 January, 2006, 10:54 pm
Filed under: India, Kashmir, Pakistan

Pakistan and India have been indulging in some rhetorical banter (at least, I hope so) over the last the ten days. The two countries seem to have developed some liking for the phrase “internal affairs”.

First, the Indian foreign ministry decided to express its concern over the spiralling violence in Baluchistan. This brought a strong rebuke from Pakistan which cautioned India against equating Baluchistan with Kashmir. The two countries had a brief exchange of words and thankfully left it at that. But I am still wondering – why did India choose this time to chide Pakistan over Baluchistan. Why was it still unable to maintain a stony silence over the issue? In any case, does India even have the right to comment on Baluchistan? I don’t quite understand how even reputed Indian foreign affairs experts fall for this mis-comparison:

The spokeswoman in Islamabad, Tasneem Aslam, said she was “intrigued? by the Indian provocation “at this time when the two countries are engaged in the peace process to address all issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute?.But it is precisely the Pakistani attitude on J&K that might have set off the Indian comments. In recent weeks, Pakistan appears to have been carried away by its own rhetoric on J&K. Its leaders have been demanding “demilitarisation? and “self-governance?.

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