Unravelling the Kashmir Knot
The differing perceptions of the Kashmir issue have resulted in a skewed political discourse. The Indian polity equates the Kashmir issue with the checking of cross border terrorism from Pakistan as also Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, holding the latter responsible for the turmoil in the Kashmir Valley.
Many in the Valley, however, feel stripped of their dignity with the recent scrapping of Article 370 by New Delhi. The Kashmiri Hindus define the Kashmir issue through the prism of the terrible happenings in the early 1990s, rendering them as refugees in their own country. For the majority in Jammu and Ladakh, the Kashmir issue is about breaking the hegemony of the Valley and equal representation and even development in J&K.
The Indian security forces view the Kashmir issue as a law and order problem, with Pakistan stoking mischief in the Valley. For almost all Indian strategists, the Kashmir issue is about converting the LOC into the international border, notwithstanding the Parliamentary resolution requiring Pakistan to vacate the occupied J&K territory.
Forgotten in such varying, albeit important, perceptions are the genesis of the Kashmir issue, and hence the possible way forward. The Kashmir issue is indeed a multi-layered one, but at the heart of this issue is the ‘disputed territory’ tag conferred upon J&K by New Delhi itself. The sovereign ruler of J&K unconditionally acceded to India on 26 October 1947 (though in the limited areas of external affairs, communications and defence) in terms of the constitutional law binding on both India and Pakistan – namely, the modified Government of India Act, 1935 and the Indian Independence Act, 1947. With such accession, J&K became an integral part of India. It was New Delhi that accepted such accession by J&K in 1947 provisionally and subject to the wishes of the people – a policy contrary to the very law that created New Delhi. It was New Delhi which then internationalized the Kashmir issue and conferred standing on every member of the UN to comment on J&K. It was due to New Delhi’s flawed policies since 1947 that millions of fellow Indians remain under Pakistani and Chinese rule, with New Delhi effectively (though unofficially) disowning them and the occupied J&K territory; a territory that comprises more than 50% of the princely state.
My book, Unravelling the Kashmir Knot, details practical, and novel, steps towards this end. The ongoing political stalemate between India, Pakistan and China will only result in each stakeholder speaking to each other but in a language neither understand.