Kashmir problem - Islamic Republic of Pakistan v/s Secular Republic of India
Kashmir problem is with the world since 1947, the year of the partition of India. 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. The UN and the U.S want both sides to keep on the discussions, but the important question is on what basis the discussion can take place. The unresolved status of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has pushed India and Pakistan to three wars in addition to three minor ones.
The Background of the Problem
Problems started in 1947 when British were leaving India after the partition and the Muslims had demanded a separate homeland for themselves, to be called as Pakistan. When Pakistan became independent, they attacked the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in the guise of tribal Pathans on 20th October 1947. Since the Maharaja by that time had not decided to join the Indian Republic, the Indian Army did not intervene. In one of its greatest mistake in the history, the Indian Government under so-called Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, did not think of protecting the Kashmir borders, till The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir asked India for help and finally joined India on 26th October 1947.
However, by that time Pakistan had already occupied almost half of the Kashmir. The UN Security Council resolution of April 1948 had suggested a plebiscite for the people of Kashmir, but only 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 never went through. During the last 56 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 (PoK) 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.
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, which is accordance with the “Two-nation” theory put forward by the founding fathers of Pakistan. But India’s position is illogical. It declared itself as the secular country, yet it had accepted the partition of India and recognized Islamic Republic of Pakistan and yet again Bangladesh in 1971. That logically means, India also believes in the ‘Two-Nation’ theory, which is exactly reverse to the ideal of secularism of India.
There are significant demographic changes in Kashmir. The minorities of Kashmir, Hindu, Sikhs and Buddhists were either killed or driven-out from Kashmir since 1947. A large number of them, about 200000, are now living in various refugee camps in Jammu. At the same time, a large number of Muslims infiltrated from other parts of Pakistan and even other parts of the world, to Kashmir.
Kashmir region now has a very less Hindu Population than was before 1947.
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 is no third option for ‘the independence’ or what few people call as the ‘right of self-determination’. Assuming that we go for ‘right of self-determination’ then why should not the right be extended to other parts of India. Why not North-East India ? So ideally, it should be applicable for all religions, tribes, sub-tribes, linguistic groups, etc. In that case, there will be hardly anything left as a Country like India or even Pakistan.
Is there a Solution to the Problem ?
The problem between India and Pakistan 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. In fact India now has the second most largest population of Muslims. This has happened because India has not driven-out the Muslims. 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.
The problem of Kashmir remains because none of the countries is arguing logically. If Pakistan insists that it has the right to absorb the rest of the Kashmir because of religion and if India insists on its secularism, there is no common ground where these two sides will ever meet. Thus, any discussions just like those before will be futile.
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 and Indians would have stayed in peace with Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
The current “rounds” and future “rounds” of talks will be a waste of time. The solution will not come-out till Muslims in India and Pakistan believe in the “Two-nation” theory and India goes on with its “Secular” policy.