In 72-year-old Kashmir dispute, India persistently rejected third party mediation. Some superpowers volunteering to offer mediation are morally on the back foot to accept historical truths fearing it might jeopardize their global dominance. They take cover under dubious proposal of mediation. India has strong reasons, historical, legal, moral and factual to turn down any suggestion of mediation from any quarter especially from one that has done much arm-twisting to her when the question was at the Security Council.
Kashmir dispute is rooted in Pakistan’s unprovoked aggression on Kashmir after the erstwhile State had legally acceded to India. An aggressor cannot be equated with the aggressed. The Security Council exactly did the same: it wrecked its claim of impartiality. India asked for the vacation of aggression, the SC not only did not but also made the aggressor a partner in “the dispute”.
The Anglo-American bloc, dominant in the SC, needed a close and strategic Asian ally to serve a buffer between the dangerously expanding communist ideology in the Central Asian region and the strategic Indian Ocean. Pakistan became a member of Baghdad Pact, SEATO and CENTO.
Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement in 1972 pledging to abjure violence and resolve Kashmir question through peaceful dialogue with India. Why Kargil war and why 1990 proxy war which is still waged in Kashmir. It means Pakistan wants to take shelter behind a bilateral agreement but also act with impunity on the ground. Either talk or take up gun. Mediation is essentially based on the principle of “give and take”. Pakistan has illegally grabbed about 40 per cent of J&K State and lays claim to the part under Indian control. It is a case of territory grabbing. If Pakistan vacates PoK as per SC resolutions, well talks should follow.
Pakistan sponsored and abetted armed insurgency in Kashmir in 1989-90. The objective is to create turmoil in Kashmir. Now that the world understands Pakistan is the fountain-head of international terrorism, it cries wolf.
Pakistan has deployed more than two hundred thousand troops to quell the dissident Pushtoons in Waziristan and calls it legitimate action while India controlling sponsored armed insurgency in Kashmir is categorizes as suppression of the so-called freedom movement.
Pakistan claims to be the protector of Muslims of the sub-continent being an Islamic State. What happened to Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan? Has any of the superpowers ever asked the UN Security Council to take up the issue of East Bengal holocaust in which nearly five million Bengalis were butchered and nearly a million Bengali women raped and used as sex slaves? No member of the OIC ever raised that issue. To them not Bangladeshis but only Kashmiris are Muslims.. Those who want to mediate on Kashmir should first think of mediating between Punjabi dominated regime of Pakistan and its long disgruntled ethnic regions Balochistan, Sind, Pushtoonistan, “Azad Kashmir”, and Gilgit-Baltistan. How can India accept mediation with nearly 5,000 square kilometres of the territory of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir in Shaksgam in Siachin region illegally ceded by Pakistan to China still in Chinese control? Pakistan shall have to retrieve the entire area to restore the 1947 position if it wants the US to mediate. Not only that, Pakistan being an all-weather friend of China must jointly with India demand China to vacate the Siachin area of Ladakh region which it has illegally grabbed and through which it has laid the railway line to Tibet. No mediation can be done as long as Pakistan does not clarify her position on this illegal seizure.
China reportedly supports mediation on Kashmir. Well, India will accept that provided China also accepts mediation on Uighur issue in Xinjiang. Accepting mediation on Kashmir — a Muslim dominated region — will imperil peaceful life of nearly 20 crores Muslim population of India – larger than that of Pakistan —. India will never allow any move that is fraught with escalation of communal tension.
After the revocation of 370 and 35-A and bifurcation of the former Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the arbitrarily imposed nomenclature of “disputed territory” has disappeared. J&K is integrated into the Union and all that remains by the name of disputed territory are Pakistan occupied J&K (POJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. If mediation is to be done, it is about these areas that belong to India. India has vowed via 1994 unanimous parliamentary resolution to take it back. The mediation has to be on the issue of when Pakistan will withdraw from these two illegally occupied regions and hand them over to India.
Pakistan has clandestinely inducted thousands of well-trained and well equipped radical Islamic jihadis into the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir. She has been instrumental in raising scores of terrorist training camps for numerous jihadi organizations on her soil and also on the soil of PoK besides establishing links with such terrorist organizations as having been designated by the UN and the US. How is it possible that India will allow these marauders to carry on their subversive activities on the one hand and on the other hand sit around a table to talk of phoney peace and resolution of Kashmir tangle? It is a clear show of duplicity. Negotiated peace talks can be held only when the insurgents armed by Pakistan lay down their arms and sue for peace. Pending that occasion India needs to fight terrorism relentlessly.
With dismemberment and dissolving of Maharaja Gulab Singh’s kingdom of “Jammu wa Kashmir wa Ladakh wa Tiber ha” into the Union Territory of India, with erstwhile J&K State’s Constitution defunct, with special status eroded, the so-called unfinished task of partition has been completed. India’s entire focus is on when and how to take back PoK and GB. If President Trump is sincere in his mediation mission, he will have to tell Pakistan frankly and sincerely that it should withdraw from its illegally grabbed part of J&K and let the people of those areas fulfil their long subdued wish of joint secular democratic India. This mediation, if successful, will bring relief to one billion people of the subcontinent held at ransom by 30,000 to 40,000 armed Pakistani jihadi extremists as told by Imran Khan to President Trump in Washington recently.
And finally, India refuses mediation because Pakistan has allowed China to build infrastructure and industries for Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan region, allowed the construction of Karakoram Highway and now CPEC to China using the same link that passes through the Indian Territory illegally occupied by China and posing a grave threat to India’s security of northern borderline. China at loggerheads with India lost no time in cautioning India that Beijing was looking at the grant of union territory status to Ladakh from her security prism. The Indian opposition has become desperate to the extent that its leaders have been exhorting Pakistan to use all methodologies to debunk Modi’s schemes of handling PoK with an iron hand and liberating her entire population from the clutches of fundamentalists and terrorists. A survey conducted by impartial source says 73 per cent of PoK people wants freedom from Pak control.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir)