India-Pakistan dialogue on Kashmir

K.N. Pandita
J&K Chief Minister repeats the tantrum of dialogue with Pakistan knowing well there are no takers in India and much less in Pakistan. Not only her late father but even father-son NC chief minister-duo before him had also harped on the same tune. They don’t do it out of gaffe.
The rhetoric of bilateral dialogue, the new mantra of Kashmir leadership, is not for the consumption of India or Pakistan; it is a ploy of Kashmir leadership for remaining glued to power. Kashmir valley political leadership of all hues is adept in the art of befooling the masses of people who enjoy being misled and misguided benevolently. They love to be told they are victimized and oppressed lot. Therefore if there is no oppressor Kashmiris will have to invent one for the sake of maintaining smooth intellectual health.
In May 1964, Nehru agreed to Sheikh Abdullah’s proposal of visiting Pakistan to talk to leadership there in a bid to find a solution to Kashmir issue.  In all probability, the Sheikh carried in his portmanteau the February 28, 1948 Abdullah-Abbas formula for solution of Kashmir problem. As that formula was too sensitive to be disclosed publicly in Pakistan, the Sheikh camouflaged it under the Confederation of Three States sop. Even a lay man would have said that the Sheikh was driving a dead horse and Field Marshal Ayub’s rebuff to him on Confederation formula was not unexpected. In desperation, the Sheikh turned to his old acquaintances in PoK and broached the Abdullah-Abbas formula to some of his very confident and close friends there. Before any reaction would be visible, the Sheikh returned post haste to be present at Nehru’s funeral in New Delhi on 14 May 1964.
It is not difficult to analyze why Ayub Khan gave cold shoulder to Sheikh. There is a story behind the unusual step taken by the Sheikh then. In normal circumstances he would not have even thought of it.
A year and half earlier India had been badly mauled by China in 1962 Sino-Indian border clash in North East. It shattered and demoralized Nehru. His fantasia of India leading the Third World proved unrealistic. The ruthless hand of history forced him to seek US’ intervention in dissuading Pakistan from any military adventure on Indo-Pak border while India received thrashing at the hands of China. Nehru’s idealism crumbled to dust. His credibility as statesmen came under censure. What now haunted him was Kashmir, the reflex of recent debacle in the NE.
The Sheikh found that Nehru had physically deteriorated and was morally shaken. He considered it an excellent opportunity of drawing political mileage from the crumbling Nehruvian aura. He spoke to Nehru profusely about Kashmiri crowds pouring onto the streets of Srinagar in protest against the theft of holy relic from Hazratbal only to further demoralize him. Disturbed by the news about mass mobility in Kashmir, made more threatening by the version of the situation given by the Sheikh, Nehru succumbed to the Sheikh’s proposal of him (Sheikh) visiting Pakistan for talks on Kashmir. The formula which he carried with him was of Confederation of India, Pakistan and J&K. If this worked the Sheikh’s dream of independent J&K and he its Sultan would have materialized.
Field Marshall Ayub Khan, the then President of Pakistan was quick to comprehend the adverse impact of Chinese attack of 1962 on India, Kashmir mass uprising at the theft of holy relic and the fast failing health of Nehru. As expected, his outright rejection of the Sheikh’s proposal of Confederation took the wind out of the sails of Sheikh Abdullah.
Supposing India and Pakistan agree to talk, what should be the agenda for talks? Has Kashmir leadership ever formulated the agenda? Referendum is possible only if 15 lakh Hindus and Sikhs are rehabilitated in their homes in PoK and 7 lakh Pandits in the valley.  Is Pakistan or Kashmir leadership ready for that? Referendum has to be held not only in the Indian part of the State but also in the PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Is Pakistan ready for that and will she is able to ask China to withdraw not only from GB but also from both the parts of Aksaichin illegally occupied by him through Pak largesse.
Kashmir leadership of all hues meaning the mainstream and non-mainstream parties plus their protégés in the Hurriyat and other separatists groups must come together and unanimously cobble the broad outlines of agenda for talks between the officials of India and Pakistan. But before they present the draft agenda to India, they must depute a delegation under the combined leadership of designated representatives from all political parties and Hurriyats and secessionists as well as Jamat-i-Islami to Pakistan for preliminary discussion with Pak civilian and military leadership. Once that process is completed and Pakistan whets the draft for talks India steps in. This is the proper way for Kashmir leadership to pursue the matter. Kashmir delegation to Pakistan should definitely include Presidents/Patrons of PDP, NC, Congress, other political parties, two Hurriyats, and commanders of mainstream militant groups affiliated to LeT, JeM, HuM and the rest of them led by Salahu’d-Din. The delegation could include Dogra and Kashmiri Pandit representation also like Dr. Karan Singh, Bushan Bazaz, Kapil Kak et al.
I think if this roadmap is accepted by Kashmir leadership and worked out it should be possible to hammer a broad-based consensus draft for the talks between two countries.
However, this being said, I would like to add here what Dr. Ambedkar the then Law Minister had said to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. The exact words are: “You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India will never do it.”


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