By Invitation: The Kashmir problem is not a problem

The real problem is Pakistan

Dr Arvind Dayal

“The fault lies in ourselves, dear Brutus, not in our stars”….By now it should have been clear to us in India and especially to those who rule this country that there is only one solution to the Kashmir ‘problem’. But before that we need to understand that there is no Kashmir problem. If at all there are problems they are akin to perhaps, the Telengana ‘problem’, the Bihar ‘problem’ the Nagaland ‘problem’, no more and may be less. The real problem simply is Pakistan.

The history of nations has much to teach us. But will we learn? Empires and countries have been founded, organised and carved out on various grounds. Such as language, culture, religion, ethnicity or merely by the force of arms. Many countries and in fact even empires were founded on the basis of religion. But today among the comity of nations there are but a handful that may be called theocratic states. Most of them are recently established countries. The old ones have all disappeared. There may have been different reasons due to which these states succumbed but it could be that merely religion has never succeeded in overcoming other embedded weaknesses, and this alone could never deliver the promised state of grace. The Holy Roman Empire, numerous Christian and Islamic states and empires all disappeared. Nepal, the only Hindu country in the world, survives on global handouts.

The half century old experiment in the subcontinent is similarly due for the same fate. Unless plurality in matters of faith is guaranteed no other virtues including the freedoms that we commonly associate with democracy can prevent the implosion of such states. In Pakistan, ostensibly an Islamic state, we see endless violence between the majority Sunni and minority Shia sects, the banning of Ahmediyas and others who too consider themselves to be good Muslims. So what was achieved by establishing this Islamic state? Which form of Islam was Pakistan established to be: Shia or Sunni? And who decided it? Was it the British or the Qaid-e-Azam himself? It is this rigidity of religious singularism that ultimately results in the collapse of countries founded on it. It may take some time for critical mass to build up, but it surely happens.

Pakistan is one such state that is reaching the end of its natural life span. Already labelled a failed state it has reached its present state as a result of the (let’s not use a complicated term like self-interest, but use a simpler one) greed of its rulers over the past 50 years. ‘Governed’ by a group (mostly military) whose prime activity has been to sustain themselves and the privileges that they have cornered by any means possible. Nothing religious or pak about their intentions. But they have played the religious card to win over not only their own people but also those of Kashmir.

Over the last few decades they have created an artificial situation in Kashmir, and demonised India with the sole intention of diverting huge chunks of the GDP to meet ‘defence’ needs and thereby into their own coffers. They have brazenly conned the Great White Fathers in Washington about their democratic sincerity and concerns for regional security. Playing the card of an India on the rampage in South Asia, they reaped the jackpot of millions of dollars, payable in Geneva, perhaps? ‘Democratically’ elected or military dictators, they were all the same and played with the same deck of cards.

The modus operandi has been quite simple. Agents provocateurs are employed to fuel the demand for either independence of the inhabitants of Muslim Kashmir from Hindu India, or for a union with Pakistan, on the basis of a religion shared with that country. (It is another matter that a larger number of their co-religionists are content to live and work all over India.) Where ‘persuasion’ has not worked, funding of political groups, of terrorists and of their bloody activities are employed by the government of Pakistan as un-stated state policy to keep the pot boiling across the border, for as long as it boils the more justified they are in cornering pelf and power.

In order to hoodwink the world (read America) they occasionally make noises about wanting peaceful coexistence with India and of their willingness to talk to anyone anywhere at any time. But despite numerous diplomatic and other high-level bilateral engagements peace is nowhere in sight. And is unlikely to break out in a hurry.

In the meantime the hydra headed monster that is terrorism, has broken out of the subcontinent and today strikes even in the home of the free and the land of the brave. And yet the leadership of America righteously believes that the Pakistani leadership, ‘at great personal risk’ is on their side in the global war against terror. And so the Pakistani generals continue their elaborate game of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. Thoroughly taken in by this game the US prods India to the table to talk Peace. How? By forsaking Kashmir, is the implied answer.

“The fault lies in ourselves, dear Brutus, not in our stars”….By now it should have been clear to us in India and especially to those who rule this country that there is only one solution to the Kashmir ‘problem’. But before that we need to understand that there is no Kashmir problem. If at all there are problems they are akin to perhaps, the Telengana ‘problem’, the Bihar ‘problem’ the Nagaland ‘problem’, no more and may be less. The real problem simply is Pakistan.

Peaceniks on both sides of the border cite the wonderful closeness of the peoples of India and Pakistan. Culturally, religion-wise, culinary habits, ties of blood, even the potatoes in the mandis. What, then, could be better than to cement these ties permanently? Ergo, the only solution of the Pakistan problem is the dismantling of the State of Pakistan, that is, the reunification with India of the provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, NWFP and the ‘tribal’ areas. The end to a blighted, bloody and irresponsible experiment foisted upon us by the hurriedly exiting British. No doubt aided and abetted by our early leaders, naïve and unlettered as they were in statecraft, and the urgent agenda of a dying Mohammed Ali Jinnah seeking political immortality.

With the above as a backdrop India must not be misguided into entering into any more fruitless dialogue with Pakistan. Shimla, Lahore, Agra, and back to Shimla, and then perhaps Islamabad? These dialogues are used by the Pakistani leadership merely to buy time and to squeeze more dollars out of the Americans. If the Americans are content to be conned it’s their business, but for us in India, time means the further loss of lives. More Indians dead every week, every month, and every year. And money. Billions spent on arms and weaponry. Time and money, which could be used to improve the economic conditions of the people not only of Kashmir, but of the entire nation.

If America wants us to talk, if Pakistan wants us to talk, fine, let us agree to talk. But the only thing India should be interested in discussing now should be – when and how reunion will take place. Nothing more and nothing less. For the cost of any other talk is paid for by the lives of our people. We cannot continue to lose the lives of Indians, just so that some generals can hang on to power in Islamabad…No need for unnecessary talk about buses and trains, or even about ‘economic federations’.

And what of the ‘leaders’ of Kashmir? These unsophisticated simple people have been hoodwinked by Pakistan so long that they have actually have begun to believe the propaganda they have been fed. Or they believe because some of them have been paid to believe. They have scant realisation that they are mere pawns, cannon fodder for the oligarchs of Islamabad. A few moments on prime time TV and they strut preening, spouting lines well taught to them by manipulators across the border. They must understand that just religion cannot be the basis of great nationhood. Brainwashed by their military patrons in Pakistan they are blind to the bloody events taking place even in Pakistan.

It is time to act. Pension off Musharrraf and his ilk: A hundred million USD and a manor in the English countryside paid by the grateful Government of the United States, from its Homeland Security budget, cannot be more than his price. The US has a better chance of peace at home, with the elimination of the nurseries of terrorism in Pakistan, and thereby also stands to gain in terms of its ‘global war on terrorism’. Eliminate the border lords, and Afghanistan has a chance of peace. A partnership on these terms with India would be more fruitful towards assuring world peace, than supporting greedy blood-stained two-faced dictators exploiting their own people and terrorising the world.

The people of India and perhaps of Pakistan are just about fed up. Its time the ruling classes in the subcontinent wake up to this reality and prepare the grounds for nothing less than the ultimate solution.

As for Bangladesh, the people of that country deserve liberation from their socio-economic and political agony. As citizens of India, ordinary Bangladeshis will stand a better chance not just of only survival but also of better economic prospects within their own lifetimes. East Bengal is more or less a state without a chief minister, and in Kolkata we have a lady ‘chief minister’ without a state. They both deserve to be put out of their misery.

Dr Arvind Dayal is the author of ‘Pakistan to Burma: Rebirth of India’, Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2005. A novel that will be seen to be prescient in the days ahead, it is a must-read for all those interested not only in India as a country but also in the very concept of ‘India’.

The views expressed are his own and are not necessarily congruent with The Acorn’s line

12 thoughts on “By Invitation: The Kashmir problem is not a problem”

  1. My own take is that turning back the clock is not quite a realistic project — it is a lot better to accept the reality of Pakistan and Bangladesh and act accordingly.

    Moreover, even if integration with Pakistan and Bangladesh is possible, I do not think it is desirable. Giving India a full-fledged federal structure is a much better idea.

  2. Hi Nitin.

    Is it possible to recieve your blog posts on my mail address.? ( I shall be sending you one – if it is so ).

    Thanks & Regards.
    Shivani.

  3. Shivani

    I have been a bit reluctant to activate blog-by-email tools in the past, due to concerns that it may end up as spam.

    Anyway in the light of Pankaj’s helpful suggestion, let me take another look. I’m implementing a few other changes at the backend so this may not happen in the next few days. Will let you know when its done. In the meantime, please consider using a RSS reader like Bloglines or RSS Bandit, which are free. Bradbury’s Feed Demon is my favourite (but it is not freeware).

    [I may move comments onto the Open Thread as they are off-topic]

  4. Your summary is spot-on….
    Pakistan is THE problem.
    It is time we provide moral and diplomatic support to their internal freedom movements.

  5. Why would India want to take on Pakistan’s enormous problems right now? The Kashmir situation seems far more manageable than dealing with, say, Pashtun or Baluchi nationalism.

  6. Maybe I should read the novel – maybe then I would understand the true genius of this idea.

    Praktike was right of course. Most problems in India are made-in-India. Pak only fans them. Like we fanned the Mukti Bahini and the LTTE. We were right of course, but Pak does not see it that way – and who can blame them. Calling Pak a mistake is the first mistake that we make in defining the problem – let alone discussing “re-unification”. I hate that term because areas like NWFP, Assam and Kerala were never part of the same nation except under the British (or maybe under Ashoka or Kanishka which is over a millenium ago). So does re-unification mean going back to the British Raj? Let us go all the way and bring back the white men too!

  7. As an outsider (I’m an ABCD), I have to say that the tone of this post smacks of triumphalism and, well, hubris (something I’m more than familiar with as an American). I think the analysis is too decontextualized as well.

    I’m admittedly not the most well-informed person on these issues, but my understanding is that Pakistan is plagued with schims, religious and ethnic, that it’s never been able to sufficiently deal with. I assume that this is because it hasn’t developed adequate civil society institutions (i.e. a culture of democracy) and because it has, as a result, alternated between corruption and military rule.

    All that said, the bigger problem in the region remains the enormous number of problems created by history (i.e. Brit colonialism and the American and Soviet Cold War)–overcentralization, lack of regional autonomy, politicized religious and other schims, etc. There are other ways to address these issues (e.g. gradual reduction of social and economic barriers); political reunification seems like a bad idea right now not just in its effects, but in the effect that presenting the idea would have. If I were Pakistani, I can’t imagine what my response would be.

    I am however, Bengali, and this is my response to the notion of bringing Bangladesh back in the fold, so to speak: Bengalis have already paid in blood through one war for independence and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit here and even rhetorically concede the only Bangla-language state in the world to some sort of overcentralized, Hinglish speaking Indian superstate.

  8. I should say the article is well intented to the core and is right in saying that there is no Kashmir problem, there is only Pakistan problem. But, having said that, integrating Pakistan into India would only worsen the situation and make it an India problem.

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