Beyond Kashmir is valley of peace
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat
Pakistan-India relations have been held hostage by the Kashmir issue since independence. Three wars have been fought over it. Now the nuclear umbrella hangs over the dispute, which refuses to die away on account of Indian stubbornness. Why should the dispute be there in the 21st century when most countries seek to resolve bilateral disputes on the table and not on the battlefield? How many pretexts would India give to avoid constructive talks with Pakistan to mend the festering wound?
Five aspects of the dispute make it imperative for India to resolve the issue quickly and on a just basis.
First, India’s dream to become a regional power faces a strong obstacle i.e. the Kashmir problem. The world wonders how New Delhi can dream of becoming a regional power, what to speak of a so-called superpower, when it cannot sit and resolve bilateral issues with its neighbours. It seems the country is held hostage by a lack of strategy, foresightedness and a will to move ahead.
Second, New Delhi will be known by its relations with Pakistan and not China as long as the Kashmir dispute is there. India, with its grand ambitions, has always thought of her as a rival to China. However, the world compares it to Pakistan because of the above-mentioned dispute. Of course, most of the Indian armed forces are deployed against Pakistan and not China.
Third, the mantra of Mumbai attacks has lost steam. Tahawwur Rana has been absolved of terrorism charges by a US court, shattering Indian dreams to implicate the ISI into the terrorist attacks. So it is not feasible for India to continue harping the terrorism theme and hide behind the 26/11 incident with regard to whole gamut of relations with Pakistan, especially the Kashmir issue. Also, Indian officials’ claims of LeT’s involvement in each and every incident of terrorism in India has lost steam and become rather counter-productive. More and more people now realise this, especially in the wake of disclosures made by Swami Aseemanand, of Hindu activists’ involvement in a string of terrorist incidents in India, including the Samjhauta Express fire in which over 40 Pakistanis were burnt alive.
Fourth, India is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religious country. Like Pakistan, it also faces the al-Qaeda threat besides hordes of other threats, including the Hindu saffron terror. As pointed out by US experts, one way to reduce the al-Qaeda threat is to come to table and find a just solution to the Kashmir issue so that Muslim extremists stop considering Kashmir one of their holy causes and attack India for suppressing the Kashmiri Muslims. The treatment with the Kashmiris in particular and Indian Muslims in general is also creating home-grown terrorism. SIMI is one example.
Fifth, the Indian dream to become a trade superpower lies in a shambles because of the dispute. Pakistan will not exploit the Bangalore silicon valley option or grant the Most Favoured Nation Status to India as long as the Kashmir issue is not resolved. Similarly, there is no chance that Pakistan will open its trade corridors to India for the Central Asian countries.
The Indians should remember that besides the Pakistanis, the world has not forgotten the Kashmir issue. This year, British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that Britain was responsible for many historic conflicts in the world, including that of Kashmir. He stated this during a visit to Islamabad. The fact remains the valley of peace in South Asia will only be reached once the Kashmir issue is not on the table anymore. For this, India will have to sit with Pakistan and find a righteous solution of the dispute, also acceptable to the Kashmiris.