For a change, Farooq Abdullah is right

K B Jandial
Politics apart, Dr Farooq Abdullah is right when he said on the sidelines of a seminar last week that “PoK is in Pakistan and will remain with it, J&K is in India and will remain in India.”
The good thing about Farooq Abdullah is that whenever he speaks out of his heart he sounds more pragmatic and realistic, unmindful of the political fallout. But then he has a enviable knack in making equally convincing U-turn to negate its political fallout and silence his critics, thanks to his powerful oratory.
Even though his proposal for division of Kashmir along LoC is the best way forward to solve the vexed issue, Farooq got brickbats for his sensible statement. He has been widely flayed by almost all the political parties and blasted in the social media, many dubbing him as “traitor” and “anti-national” for “giving up” India’s claim on PoK. The only exception is the ruling PDP which refrained from slamming Farooq. “It has always existed as one of the alternatives on Kashmir discourse,” PDP Minister Naeem Akther said on the controversy.
Interestingly, the BJP and separatists are on the same page- slamming Farooq but for different reasons. The BJP took him to task for compromising India’s rightful claim on PoK and violating 1994 Parliament’s unanimous resolution on Kashmir. Farooq instead dared BJP to get vacated PoK from Pakistan.
On the other hand, the separatists blasted Abdullah for” betraying the people of Kashmir” terming his statement as “historically incorrect”. The Hurriyat said, “it stands for re-unification of all five regions of the state – Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, POK and Gilgit-Baltistan”. But then why the criminal silence  when Pakistan “gifted away” over 5000 sq km area of PoK to China and later merged Northern Area with Pakistan.
The “nationalists” often quote Parliament’s resolution of 1994 to buttress their criticism but hardly know that it was passed in a particular context. The astute but unremembered Prime Minister PV Narasimaha Rao made this diplomatic masterstroke to counter the designs against India’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity which was seriously threatened at that time. Pakistan had succeeded in enlisting tacit support of some western powers in its nefarious designs to secede J&K from India. In 1990, Pakistan had launched proxy war through terrorists to achieve what it could not manage overtly in three wars- to wrest J&K from India. Islamic group was activated but neutralized by tactfully handling of Rao. Americans were in touch with Kashmiri  militants groups. US President made unusual mention of Kashmir dispute in his address to UN General Assembly. Diplomats of various countries started evincing interest in Kashmir and made a beeline to Srinagar. There was credible information about an international conspiracy to secede Kashmir from India. At that time India had to react and it reacted by adopting unanimous resolution on 22nd November, 1994.
The  resolution reads, “On behalf of the People of India, Firmly declares that – (a) The State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means; (b) India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; and demands that – (c) Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression; and resolves that -(d) all attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely.”
This resolution is being quoted to hammer down everyone who talks about conversion of LOC into international border. It may sound contemptuous to the Parliament but the fact remains that the “pledge” remained only on the paper as nothing was done by all successive Central Govts. to redeem it in the last 21 years.
The resolution didn’t call for liberating PoK but asked Pakistan to “vacate” it. There was no indication of military action but only re-asserted India’s stand that “POK is a part of Kashmir which stood legally acceded to India and thus whole of J&K is integral part of India”, so Pakistan “must vacate” occupied areas. If Pakistan was to oblige India why did it occupy the territory of J&K? The resolution was an expression of India’s unity and determination to defend its territorial integrity. It had the desired effect.
Pakistan was made to eat the dust at UN Human rights Commission when its resolution tabled on 27th February, 1994  to condemn India for human right violations failed. Indian diplomacy had won over China and Iran to the chagrin of Pakistan.
Those who quote this resolution to criticize Farooq Abdullah must explain how they would get POK vacated from the nuclear-power Pakistan.  Is India prepared to wage war to get back PoK? Will the world allow any of the two nuclear powers to go to war? The fact is that the 1998 nuclear test have frozen the power balance in South Asia into eternity. Neither Pakistan nor India can take even an inch of each other’s Kashmir. A solution has to be found within this  stark reality.
The people of India were expecting settlement on Kashmir on similar lines from Indira Gandhi in Shimla Agreement signed to release nearly a lakh Pakistani POWs after their disgraced surrender to Indian army in East Pakistan. Indira was outmaneuvered by the crafty Bhutto who bought time to consolidate his position back home before signing on conversion of ceasefire into IB.  That day never came. India had won the war on ground but lost the battle on table.
Vajpayee too wanted to move in the lost opportunity of Shimla Agreement. According to Farooq, during his famous Lahore visit Vajpayee, had suggested  division of Kashmir between the two neighboring countries. “We will correct the line (LoC) and this will ease travel and trade between people on both sides,” Farooq quoted Vajpayee. However, Pak did not agree.  But now there are indications that Pak army is willing to consider this option as skirmishes on LoC  are taking a heavy toll of its men.
There is another resolution which Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists keep parroting- UN resolution. The resolution is binding only if parties are agreed. It is not mandatory. Politically it died in Shimla agreement when both the countries bound themselves to settle Kashmir issue bilaterally, meaning thereby that UN role no longer required.
For sake of argument, the plebiscite in Kashmir did not take place despite nominating members for the Plebiscite Commission because Pakistan did not perform its obligation under the said resolution which preceded obligation of India. The relevant portion of the resolution no 21 of 1948 dated 21st April, 1948 dealing with plebiscite is reproduced to appreciate why it was not implemented. It has become irrelevant and un-implementable.
1. The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours:
(a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purposes of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;
(b) To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order.
2. The Government of India should:
(a) When it is established to the satisfaction of the Commission set up in accordance with the Council’s Resolution 39 (1948) that the tribesmen are withdrawing and that arrangements for the cessation of the fighting have become effective, put into operation in consultation with the Commission a plan for withdrawing their own forces from Jammu and Kashmir and reducing them progressively to the minimum strength required for the support of the civil power in the maintenance of law and order;
(b) Make known that the withdrawal is taking place in stages and announce the completion of each stage; When the Indian forces shall have been reduced to the minimum strength mentioned in (a) above, arrange in consultation with the Commission for the stationing of the remaining forces to be carried out in accordance with the following principles:
(i) That the presence of troops should not afford any intimidation or appearance of
intimidation to the inhabitants of the State;
(ii) That as small a number as possible should be retained in forward areas;
(iii) That any reserve of troops which may be included in the total strength should be located within their present base area.”
As is evident, India was to act only when it is established that “ the tribesmen are withdrawing” which never happened and thus resolution remained un-implemented.
Initially, Pakistan was not confident of winning the referendum in the face of  towering leader Sheikh Abdullah who endorsed accession with India on the basis of commonality of ideals. But when Sheikh’s relations with the Central Govt. turned sour leading to his sacking and arrest in 1953 Pakistan became active.
Major turnaround in the mindset of  Kashmir leadership occured when they saw  how West Pakistan Muslim leadership did not allow  Bangla leadership to form the federal Govt. despite winning elections and then losing East Pakistan and birth of Bangladesh in 1971. Sheikh realized that with whatever difference he had with the Centre India was still a much better place for Kashmiri Muslims to live. Thus, he returned to the mainstream in 1975 from political wilderness. But after Sheikh’s death, Pakistan succeeded in its machination and injected terrorism in J&K that took a heavy toll of human lives.
When UN resolution has become un-implementable and liberating PoK by force not possible then what is alternate solution? Those who question this solution are aware of the realities but playing politics. It is like crying for abrogation of Article 370 knowing well that is not possible. How many leaders honestly want permanent settlement of Kashmir?  Many are keen to keep the pot boiling for their vested interest.
With neither India nor Pakistan is willing to part with even an inch of Kashmir’s land it would have been better had Farooq ‘s observations provoked  a healthy debate but politics as usual have  overtaken the realities. Is it a coincidence that Farooq spoke it when Pak army is  reportedly not averse to conversion of LoC and  Hurriyat  making honest introspection of its waning “command”  over people in Kashmir.  Media reports suggest that octogenarian Syed Ali Shah Geelani seriously feels that people have led down separatists’ leadership as they no longer give heed to their calls and programs. He is soured by frequent rejection of his call for boycotting the elections. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too called for “other methods to remain relevant as politics of hartal has outlived its utility”. People are fed up from shut downs. So, it is the time for separatists and all mainstream leaders to accept the writing on the wall and allow people to live in peace with assured future.


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