Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Solution for the Kashmir Problem

By: Dipak Basu, Japan
August 16, 2004

Kashmir problem is with the world since 1947, the year of the partition of India.  Now the world is facing a possible nuclear war between India and Pakistan over this issue.  The UN and the U.S want both sides to start discussions, but the important question is on what basis the discussion can take place.  Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid M. Kasuri, on 1st June, 2004 has issued a statement referring to the four points raised by India that:  “Borders cannot be altered; No plebiscite; Relations will be guided by the Simla Agreement; and The Sino-India model should be followed”.  He said, ” A solution based on the ‘line of control’ is not acceptable.  The status quo is a part of the problem not part of the solution.  The unresolved status of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has pushed us to three wars in addition to three minor ones and might well have triggered a wider and more sinister war between the two countries in 2002, if diplomacy, realism and commonsense had not prevailed.”  The positions of the two contending sides do not have any common ground so far; as a result, solution is alluring them. 
The Background of the Problem: 

Problem has started in 1947 when British was diving India into two parts to separate out Muslims, who had demanded a separate homeland for themselves and the non-Muslims.  Pakistan had refused to give a chance to the old princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and attacked in the guise of tribal Pathans on 20th October 1947.  The Maharaja asked India for help and joined India on 26th October 1947.  However, by that time Pakistan has already occupied about half of the Kashmir.  The U.N Security Council resolution of April 1948 had suggested a plebiscite for the people of Kashmir after it would be vacated by Pakistan; India would be allowed to maintain some forces to maintain the law and order.  Pakistan never vacated the area and as a result, the referendum could not happen.  During the last fifty years a lot of demographic changes took place, the most notable one is the expulsions of the non-Muslim communities both from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir and also from the Srinagar valley of the Indian held Kashmir.  Non-Muslims were driven out from the Pakistan occupied areas of Baltistan, Skardhu, Hunza and Gilgit, the four semi-independent kingdoms associated with the state of the Jammu and Kashmir; there are large-scale infiltrations of Muslims into traditional Buddhist area Ladakh and the Hindu areas of Jammu. 

In the current demographic characteristics, there are nine million people in the Indian Kashmir, about six millions are Muslims, the rest three millions are Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.  While Kashmir valley is now almost all Muslim, in Ladakh Buddhists are still in majority.  Muslims are still a minority in Jammu.  Indian part of the Kashmir is about 45 percent of the original Kingdom of the Jammu and Kashmir, about 35 percent is now in Pakistan, and China has occupied the other 20 percent in 1962.  Skardhu, Gilgit, Hunza, and Baltistan are now the Northern Area Province of Pakistan. 

The dispute is mainly on the Indian part of Kashmir, as Pakistan wants it on the ground that Muslims are the majority of the population in that part.  India although theoretically still claims the whole of the original kingdom, it had never pressed any demands for the Pakistani and the Chinese parts seriously.   
UN declaration of 1948: 

The UN declaration, on 13th August, 1948, in the chapter for the ‘TRUCE AGREEMENT’ categorically said: 

“Simultaneously with the acceptance of the proposal for the immediate cessation of hostilities as outlined in Part I, both Governments accept the following principles as a basis for the formulation of a truce agreement, the details of which shall be worked out in discussion between their Representatives and the Commission.  

A. (1) As the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from that State.  

(2) The Government of Pakistan will use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistan nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting.  

(3) Pending a final solution the territory evacuated by the Pakistan troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the Commission.” 

Pakistan has never withdrawn its army and the tribesmen from the occupied Kashmir.  That was the reason the UN declaration could not be implemented. 

There are significant demographic changes in Kashmir.  The minorities of Kashmir, Hindu, Sikhs and Buddhists were evicted from Kashmir since 1947. A large number of them, about 200,000, are now living in various refugee camps in Jammu, the rest were dispersed in other parts of India and the world.  At the same time, a large number of Muslims came from other parts of Pakistan (who include the family of Nawaz Shariff, the former prime-minister of Pakistan) and other parts of the world to Kashmir. 

The UN declaration did not say anything about the future of the minority non-Muslims in the state of the Jammu and Kashmir.  Now there are three million non-Muslims, who cannot possibly stay in a Muslim country if Kashmir joins Pakistan given the record of Pakistan regarding its treatments of its minorities. 

The most important issue is the question of accepting the theory that Muslims cannot stay with the people of other religions.  If the UN accepts the demand of Pakistan and of the Muslims of Kashmir it implies acceptance of the ‘Two-Nation’ theory put forward by the founding fathers of Pakistan that Muslims and Hindus are two different nations and must live separately.  In that case there would be no justification for the presence of another 110 millions of Muslims in the rest of India, who according to the principle of the partition in 1947 should have left long ago, but are allowed to stay in India only because India does not accept the ‘Two-Nation’ theory.  Strangely, now Pakistan does not want to accept the Muslims of India, although it was created by the ‘Two-Nation’ theory.  

India’s position is equally illogical.  It declared itself as the secular country, yet it had accepted the partition of India and recognizes both Pakistan and Bangladesh.  That logically means, India also believes in the ‘Two-Nation’ theory, which is diametrically against the declared ideal of secularism of India.  

If the principle of self-determination is valid for the Muslims, it should be valid also for the Buddhists in Chittagong Hill Area in Bangladesh, where 97 percent of the people were Buddhists in 1947, at the time of the partition.  Several princely states in Baluchistan and the people of the North-West Frontier Province wanted to be independent in 1947, but were forced to join Pakistan.  However, the UN had never considered these issues.  As a result UN declaration of 1948 was unrealistic, one-sided and has lost all relevance after more than fifty years.
The Right of Self Determination: 

The UN Resolutions on Kashmir have nothing to do with the  ‘right of self determination’ for the Kashmiris, because there are only two obvious options: Join India or join Pakistan.  There no third option for ‘the independence’.  In January 29, 1994, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKIF) leader, Amanullah Khan, speaking in Muzaffarabad, reminded Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that Pakistan's persistent rejection of the third option of independence for Kashmir is "tantamount to denying the very right of self-determination" Pakistan has been harping about a right which, he asserted, cannot be limited, conditioned or circumscribed.  However, Pakistan's espousal of the right to self-determination has always been self-servingly conditional and circumscribed. 

The ‘right of self-determination’ has many edges.  Why should this right be only for the Muslim Kashmiris, when no other people in the undivided India in 1947 had that right?  Ideally, it should be applicable for all religions, tribes, sub-tribes, linguistic groups, etc.  In that case, there will be hardly anything left in Pakistan (or in India or Bangladesh).  

Also where should it start, is it for the whole country, every provinces of the British India, every princely states, every districts, every city, villages.  There is no clear limit, which is not arbitrary.  This is reason the most countries do not want to acknowledge the ‘right of self determination’ as a fundamental right, because it will destroy the foundations of all nation states, including Pakistan. 
Various Proposals so far: 

India wants to convert the line of control in Kashmir as the international border and keep everything as it is.  It was the basis of the Simla Conference in 1972, which took place after the defeat of Pakistan in its war against India in 1971.  

Although Indian politicians do not say it in public, but India is prepared to forgo the Pakistan occupied part of Kashmir; that is the maximum it is prepared to go.  

However it is not acceptable to Pakistan, as it has already gained that part, it wants additional gains, which is the remaining part of the Kashmir valley.  Like India, Pakistan also can compromise on Ladakh and Jammu and leave these to India.  India cannot agree with it, as it destroys the fundamental basis of the current constitution, secularism.  Thus, Indian and Pakistani positions will never match and any future discussions within that premises would definitely fail.   

The alternative solution was proposed by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which is not supported by either Pakistan or India.  It supports independence for the whole area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, when all armies from both India and Pakistan should vacate the area, the UN would take over and run the administration for the next fifteen years and organize the referendum afterwards to decide whether the area will join India or Pakistan or to stay independent.  It is silent about the area occupied by China.  Pakistan does not buy this proposal, as it is against the idea of an independent Kashmir.  Thus, this proposal so far has not got off the ground. 
Exchange of Population as the Solution: 

The problem between India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh) remains because what was natural after a partition of a country, the exchange of population, never took place.  Pakistan and Bangladesh has driven out most of their non-Muslim population, but Muslims are still in India, even after their homeland was created.  This is the most unnatural event in the world.  In other cases of partition elsewhere in the world, there were always exchange of populations.  The cases of Greece-Turkey, Germany-Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria-Turkey, Poland-Germany, Bosnia-Serbia, Croatia-Serbia, are the recent examples where full-scale exchanges of population were organized along with the partition.  In fact, it is unnecessary to partition a country if the populations are not to be exchanged. 
Exchange of population between the proposed state of Pakistan and India was mentioned in the plan of the partition of India made by Rajagopalacharya in 1943 in collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi.  Dr.B.R. Ambedkar has mentioned in detail in 1945 the ways and means of that exchange of population in his book, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, (AMS Press, New Delhi, 1945).  He said, “Assuming it does become a problem, will it be a baffling problem?  Experience shows that it is not a problem, which it is impossible to solve.  To devise a solution for such a problem it might be well to begin by asking what are the possible difficulties that are likely to arise in the way of a person migrating from one area to another on account of political changes…….. The  difficulties can be easily removed by the two States of Pakistan and Hindustan agreeing to a treaty..” 
It is the responsibility now for the two governments to think about such a treaty after wasting 60 years since 1945.   
The Proposed Solution:

A solution is valid if it can take into account of the existing reality and offer something to all sides.  UN declaration has failed because it could not satisfy that criteria.  The reality is that China cannot be dislodged from its position.  Thus, 20 percent of Kashmir has to be forfeited and does not come into the discussion.  
The Proposed Solution should be package with the following items:  

1. Pakistan and Bangladesh will take all Muslims living in India (including Kashmir), India will accept all remaining non-Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

2. India will give up the Kashmir valley excepting the link road to Ladakh and will keep only the Ladakh (all Buddhists) and Jammu valley (mainly Hindu).  The Pakistan occupied Skardhu, Hunza, Baltistan, and Gilgit, where very few Muslims used to live in 1947 should come to India.

3. Chittagong Hill District (which was 97 percent Buddhists in 1947) will have a referendum, to join either Burma (Myanmar) or India or to stay independent.  Muslims population there will go back to Bangladesh.

4. Migrants will be allowed to take away their assets; destitute should be compensated by the government of the country displacing them.

5. In order to avoid the holocaust that took place in 1947-48, the whole of the subcontinent should be under the jurisdiction of the UN, for about one year, during which this exchange of population would take place.

The purpose of the partition was to create a homeland for the Muslims of the undivided
India.  When it was done, the logical question is: why are Muslims still in India and if they really want that much to stay in India, why should Pakistan or Bangladesh exist at all?  As it is unrealistic to think about the united India once again, as it was before 1947, a realistic solution is to exchange populations, which should have taken place in 1947 as a logical consequence of the partition.

There is no other solution, which can satisfy both sides.  In a solution that can work, both sides have to gain something.  In the proposed solution, everyone gains something.  India gains in terms of reduced population and perhaps lasting peace.  Pakistan gains Kashmir, what it always wanted.  Bangladesh has still considerable number of non-Muslims who according this proposal will go away to India.  Thus, even accepting the Bengali Muslims from India the net increase in population in Bangladesh will not be an unviable figure.  It will also gain peace from the insurgency of the Buddhists tribes in the Chittagong Hill Area. 

India is suffering from a delusion that if it can have an alliance with the United States, pressures on India to compromise on Kashmir will evaporate.  An alliance with the US may not be possible however much India wants it because the Middle-East, not India, has the supreme importance in the geopolitical strategy of the US.  The Middle East is the major oil supplier for the western world.  Given the religious affinity of Pakistan and the Middle-Eastern countries it is highly unlikely that the US will ever prefer India.  Recent situations in Afghanistan and Iraq should provide a good lesson for India, when Pakistan was bailed out from economic bankruptcy, and is now a major non-NATO ally of the U.S. India’s overtures are so far rebuffed.  
Furthermore, an alliance with the US does not provide any guarantee for India that the US will support India’s position on Kashmir.  In 1974, neither Britain nor the US has supported Greece when Turkey had invaded and occupied north Cyprus.  From 1995 to 1999, despite of strong opposition from Greece, Anglo-American and other NATO forces have destroyed Yugoslavia and handed over Kosovo to the Albanians, the mortal enemy of the Greeks.  India should learn from that experience that an alliance with the US might give undue advantages to Pakistan, which already has alliance with the US.  
The problem of Kashmir remains because none of the countries is arguing logically.  If Pakistan only insist that it has the right to absorb the rest of the Kashmir because of religion and if India insists on its secularism and as a result refuses to consider any alternative solution, there is no common ground where these two sides will meet.  Thus, any discussions just like those before will be futile. 
It is thus essential to change the mindset of these countries so that they can think about the ‘unthinkable’ taboo that has prevented them to reach a logical compromise.  That ‘unthinkable’ taboo is the remains of the illogical and asymmetric system imposed by India on itself, by not going through the logical steps required at the time of the partition in 1947.  If the exchange of population would have taken place in 1947, Kashmir problem could not have emerged.  Just like Bengal and Punjab in 1947, Kashmir would have been partitioned long time ago.  Time has come to take these logical steps, which can solve the problem once for all and remove the fear of a nuclear war in the subcontinent.

Dipak Basu, Japan


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