Who needs self-governance?

More than India’s Jammu & Kashmir state, it is Pakistan that needs self-governance

Although equality of all its citizens is a guiding principle, the Indian constitution accords a special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, thereby contradicting itself. Unless they are also residents of the state, Indian citizens cannot own property in Kashmir. Consequently the Indian government cannot and has not attempted to change the state’s demographic profile. Neither has it siphoned off its natural resources. On the contrary, on a per capita basis Jammu & Kashmir state is the second largest recipient of central government funds. Elections were regularly held (and sometimes rigged) until cross-border terrorism destabilised the state. The latest round of elections were applauded for being free and fair, and a representative government runs the state. According to Freedom House’s 2005 report, the residents of Jammu & Kashmir have more political rights and civil liberties than the whole of Pakistan.

According to the same report, the areas of Jammu & Kashmir that Pakistan controls fare even worse than the Palestinian territories in terms of political rights and civil liberties. The Northern Areas, comprising of Gilgit and Baltistan are in a constitutional limbo and have no say in how and by whom they are ruled. The Pakistani government has wilfully changed the regional demography by encouraging the influx of Sunni and ethnic Punjabi migrants in what used to be a Shia majority area. The Shias of Gilgit were massacred in 1988. A certain Brigadier Pervez Musharraf who was in command of the Pakistani forces in Gilgit at that time led the operation. Gilgit remains on the boil, with the local population resentful of being relegated to second-class status by the new politically powerful immigrants.

‘Azad’ Jammu & Kashmir, on the other hand, has all the semantic trappings of a state, but its fictional freedom is only used to deny it a say in the Pakistani federation. Not that it matters much in practice, but unlike Pakistan’s other provinces ‘Azad’ Kashmir does not send legislators to the federal parliament. It used to be run by the Pakistani army through the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs. That is, until the recent earthquake destroyed the facade that Pakistan had worked so hard to maintain. It is now openly run by jihadi groups and their Islamic fundamentalist parent organisations.

Isn’t it patently ridiculuous then for India’s national security advisor to agree to even consider Pakistan’s proposals for ‘self-governance’ for Kashmiris? Yet this is what he seems to have done. Even for a government whose creepy policy on Kashmir has left India slipping dangerously down the slope, this touches a new depth. This is no trifling matter, the Indian government must come forward and clarify whether this is its official position.

Related Posts: Secular-Right on why autonomy for Kashmir must be strongly opposed.

5 thoughts on “Who needs self-governance?”

  1. Nitin:

    I quite agree that it can be a slippery slope, but whether that turns out to be the case depends on what sort of ‘consideration’ the GOI gives the ‘self-governance’ proposals. I simply don’t think the GOI is contemplating anything remotely close to ‘self-governance’. BTW, as I wrote on ‘Secular-Right’, I think the Daily Times editorial is directly contradicted by Mr. Narayanan’s remarks.

    In that interview given by Mr. Narayanan, he prefaced his remarks by saying that if Pakistani ‘self-governance’ amounted to autonomy, that was just fine with India. If it was anything more, well….India would look at the details…if Pakistan ever got around to proposing anything concrete. My take is that Mr. Narayanan reaffirmed India’s limits, albeit in a very ‘diplomatic’ manner.

    I suspect the GOI is trying to keep Pakistan enmeshed in talks until reality finally dawns on the Pakistani govt. A bank shot, certainly, but worth a try. To reiterate my response on ‘Secular-Right’, so long as Pakistan proposes and India disposes (of ‘self-governance’ for J&K), I will not be unduly troubled by India-Pakistan ‘discussions’ on the matter.


  2. Nitin: Agree with your post excpet a minor nitpick about the contradiction of J&K being an integral part of India and Indians not be able to buy property there. It was one of the conditions negotiated by the J&K assembly (under the leadership of Sheik Abdullah IIRC). It was after this the instrument of accession was formally voted into acceptance by the newly elected assembly.

    I guess if we have to change that, it has to debated by both New Delhi and Srinagar assembly. btw, this is not unique to India. For eg. citizens from mainland France will find it extremely difficult to buy up property in the Corsican island though legally it is still possible. There are other places where such laws are present inorder to preserve the ethnic demographics.

  3. The proposal put up by Pakistan of self governance appears to be a ploy to initially sub divide Kashmir in five parts, demilitrise Srinagar , Kupwara, Baramula to enable militant groups to assume control and influnence the political leaders and finaly merge three parts that is kashmir valley, Northen kashmir and Pok areas to form one part.with in Pakistan and remainder part Jammu , ladakh within India. Pakistan ‘s main aim is to annex the valley.
    India should be careful.

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