Out Of The Box
M B Naqvi
12 November, 2004
Pervez Musharraf's October 21 plea to the Pakistanis to think out of
the box has largely succeeded; the issue is being discussed everywhere
and by all who care about these things. On Kashmir, there used to be
just one line that emanated from the government; 57 years of intense
propaganda at home and abroad has made it almost a reflex reaction of
most Pakistanis: a UN supervised plebiscite which would give only two
options to theKashmiris, to join India or Pakistan.
Now that is a thing
of the past. Ever since October 21, discussing the various possible
solutions to the Kashmir problem, other than the UN resolutions, is
now occupying attention. It can be said that it was Musharraf who killed
Pakistan's traditional stance on Kashmir, with no likelihood of its
revival. That option is now politically dead. It is necessary to see
if any other option can be acceptable to India - and as a long shot
to the Kashmiris. There is however a hole in the heart in this proposition.
It is about India's
readiness to accept any change in the status of Kashmir at all. Until
recently it was only Pakistan that rejected anything less than a radical
change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir State. India has what it wanted
or most of it. What incentive is there for it to change? The various
Indian governments and party leaders have made it plain over the years
that come what mayKashmir's accession to India is sacrosanct and will
not be allowed to be tampered with. Other ideas to a Kashmir solution,
if they involve substantial change in constitutional and realpolitik
status of Kashmir, can have a chance if there is a cogent reason why
Indian authorities will countenance it.
There is no evidence
that authorities in Pakistan have applied their mind to this part of
the problem. Flexibility and give and take have been mentioned. But
what will be in it for India to compromise its sovereignty and total
control over Kashmir? Indians cannot be asked merely to give and not
take anything. The question persists.
Musharraf has merely recommended the discussion of various possible
options or approaches to a solution. By a process of elimination most
analysts have come to the conclusion that he was suggesting a division
of Kashmir along broad outlines by calling for dividing the State into
seven regions on the basis of geography. Musharraf merely has sugarcoated
a pill that is unappealing to India. He has left ample space for other
possible solutions. In this connection he has mentioned condominium
and joint control.
A solution being
actually hawked by the Americans and which seems to have been adopted
by many Indian publicists: it is to de-militarise the two Kashmirs,
both Indian-controlled and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The joint control
or the condominium comes into play in this scenario. But this begs the
same question: why would India change and accept any condominium or
joint control scheme to whatever shape or degree being suggested. After
all India has never countenanced such a proposition.
Something has to
be done about this hole in the heart. The onus for it is mostly on Musharraf
and other proponents of the idea. Don't forget the Indians are quite
prepared to live with the status quo with all its inconveniences. To
make it shift, some goodies have to be offered.
between the two countries have been largely hostile, with much ill will.
The constant cold war between them has left a residue that has reduced
the normal power and influence of both countries. India is certainly
a potential great power. While Pakistan does not equal it, it is not
entirely without some importance and influence, particularly in the
so-called Islamic world. If this relationship can be recast into one
of friendly cooperation, it will unlock many doors.
There is also something
unique about the India and Pakistan relationship. The two cannot be
wholly indifferent and distinct from each other; they can be close friends
and also enemies.
There is something
of exceptional value that Pakistan and India can achieve, apart from
the creation of more wealth, which alone will be no mean achievement.
The thousand and one commonalities between them, if given free play,
can create a lot of satisfaction all around.
Think of the situation when Indian and Pakistani diplomacy would cooperate.
In the third world counsels, a proposition would become acceptable to
all the third world, if the two cooperate. Let us say with Pakistan
facilitating India's entry into OIC (for whatever it is worth) or supporting
India's claim to a permanent UN Security Council seat, the state of
international opinion would be radically different. But most of all,
the immense benefit would accrue to both in the field of arts and culture,
not to mention scientific and technological cooperation.
Above all else,
SAARC can be revived, well and truly, into something that not merely
works but achieves exemplary results. After all, South Asia has a wonderful
resource base. That alone is a price that should tempt India. Anyhow
other than this, there can be nothing more tempting from
Pakistan's side than political, economic and cultural partnership. And
again as a long shot, Kashmiris can be won over by both Pakistan and
India jointly and life can be easier all around.