Why giving in to Kashmir-fatigue is not a good idea

There are no easy solutions to the problems in Kashmir. Not least self-determination.

Last week, two leading op-ed columnists argued that current crisis in Kashmir calls for India to yield to the demands of the separatists, hold a plebiscite and accept the verdict of the Kashmiri people, even if that means secession.

Swaminathan Aiyar comes from a liberal perspective: he dislikes “ruling people against their will” and that “India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions.” Vir Sanghvi, on the other hand, takes a cost-benefit approach. He argues that the costs of holding on to Kashmir—in economic and political terms—outweigh the benefits.

Both are wrong. Mr Aiyar, who is perhaps India’s best newspaper columnist, misses the nuances of the undeniably complex political-legal history of Partition. But he makes a good point—for all the moralising that the Indian state indulged in, and the legal arguments it used to defend Jammu & Kashmir’s accession, the fact remains that the integration of Indian princely states was a feat of realpolitik. And it was the same on the part of Pakistan. Just as Goa, Junagadh and Hyderabad were made part of the Indian Union by force, so was Kalat (part of modern Balochistan) secured by Pakistan. And Jammu & Kashmir came to be divided along the lines of the balance-of-power then obtaining between the two states.

There’s no need for believers in democracy and liberalism to feel apologetic about the fact that force played a role in forging the Indian Union. On the contrary, democrats and liberals must ask themselves why—for sixty years—they tolerated the fundamental principle of equality of all citizens to be undermined by granting a special status to people of Jammu & Kashmir. The same goes—albeit to a much lesser extent—for the people of the North Eastern states. The constitutional provisions only aggravated the geographical seclusion and the different religious composition to continue, preventing the real integration of Jammu & Kashmir into the national mainstream. Little wonder then, that the Kashmiri people should feel estranged.

Be that as it may, isn’t there a case for giving the Kashmiri people the right to self-determination, through a plebiscite? Here, Mr Sanghvi’s argument suggest that he considers that the problem can be got rid off by allowing Kashmiris to secede. Advocates of a plebiscite and secession though have a duty to articulate what happens next—to Kashmir and to India. Will the Valley’s independence or integration with Pakistan miraculously solve the fundamental problem, or will it merely lead to its reconfiguration? And can any serious advocate of a plebiscite, leave alone secession, plausibly argue that such a move will be free of the immense human tragedy that characterised drawing of new international borders in the subcontinent in 1947 and 1971?

And what next? Kashmir coming under the sway of the Taliban-like forces that hold sway in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas; or under a puppet regime that becomes the agent of regional and foreign powers; or under authoritarian rulers like those in Central Asia; or all of the above [See Offstumped]. One thing it will not become is Switzerland. What this implies for India is that the costs will not go away—they will mount. Kashmir is, as Mr Sanghvi puts it, a 20th century problem. But a 20th century solution—for that’s what self-determination is—won’t prevent it from disrupting India’s 21st century future. As for Kashmiris, self-determination is no guarantee that they will not be ruled against their will.

This is not to argue that holding on to Kashmir and its alienated population won’t be costly. It always was, and those costs will inflate. But it is foolhardy to believe that plebiscite and secession will lead to savings. In any case, neither Mr Aiyar nor Mr Sanghvi have even attempted to show why all those affected will be better off if Kashmir were to secede. Mr Aiyar would probably counter by saying that self-determination is an end in itself, and the consequences are immaterial. But Mr Sanghvi can’t take that position.

The reality is this: To ensure the well-being of people in the region, including those of its neighbours, India as a whole, and not just Jammu & Kashmir, needs to place a premium on individual freedoms on the one hand, and on tolerance on the other. Kashmir-fatigue, predictable political opportunism among state and national politicians, Pakistan’s continuing policies of destabilisation, and the failure of the India-Pakistan ‘peace process’ must not distract attention from this. But to move in this direction, India has to climb out of the hole it has dug itself into. That requires a process of national reconciliation.

71 thoughts on “Why giving in to Kashmir-fatigue is not a good idea”

  1. Nitin…

    Plebdicite is certainly not required at all in J& K, I read the TOI yesterday, wherein a fruit grower outright dismissed the idea of Azaadi, he reasoned that where will Kashmiris get a vast market of 100 crore people.

    I know it from certain people in the army, that the separatists are in the minority in the valley. If you analyze all coverage to this crisis, you will figure out that the MASS DEMONSTRATIONS by the MUslims numbered to say 5000 now compare that to the one in Jammu.

    The protestors in the valley are all in the age group of 15 to 30, now it does not take much to realize why this age group is so vociferous inline with the separatists.

    I sincerely doubt if plebdicite is required. What is required is something on the lines of the initiative that ABV took.


  2. As a guy in his early 20s, full of radical ideas, it was hard to see the logic behind ABV’s initiatives in Kashmir. It was only years later that I realized what results his initiatives had had. Kashmir went from having leaders with vested interest in a gun-culture to one where people actually wanted to see an end to militancy.

    You’ve heard right. The only real bunch of separatist political leaders are part of APHC and their following hardly extends beyond Srinagar, or the the valley at the most and there is more to Kashmir than just the valley. The rest of them are only going with the flow of “Islam in danger” slogans for their own electoral gains.

    It might be worth the while to investigate whether the support for Islamists is directly proportional to the support for secession? Are they closely coupled or can one exist without the other?

  3. Also, there was a dire need to follow-up ABV’s work but it wasnt. One of the reasons I think for the current flare has been not just the absence of those follow-ups but also the weakness of UPA government combined with the situation the separatists found themselves in, in the last few years, which I feel, lead them to look for any opportunity that would get them back into the political limelight. And we all know how “Islam in danger” slogans are able to rouse people around the world, how is Kashmir any different in this aspect. They’ve used it well, I must admit.

  4. Nitin: was surprised at Vir Sanghvi’s position – clearly a case of fatigue. Agree that we cannot let Kashmir go. It’s the best of some ugly options.

    The secessionist Kashmiris in the Valley should thank their lucky stars they’re dealing with the Indian Government. If we acted like the Chinese or the Israelis, we’d have long settled 5 million folks from the plains and changed the demography to make these nuisance demonstrations a non-issue (heard somewhere that the Sikhs of West Pakistan had something like that in mind in 1947). Liberal democracy sometimes feels like our hands are bound by our tongue.

  5. Do either of the gents have a plan for the exiled Pandits?

    Muslims of the valley do not have exclusive claims on the land. And neither can the valley’s minority be ruled against _its_ will.

  6. Oldtimer: I think we have bigger problems on our hands right now than to worry about KPs.
    Why I think we have a bigger problem is because even though the militancy is under control, the political aspects are not and this is different from the times when militancy was at its height and politics derived its strength from it. Looks like the politics has got a lifeline of its own now.

    This will be a good time to remind Kashmiri Muslims, that they cant have the benefits of being a part of India and yet not provide the benefits of Kashmir to all Indians. Article 370 has to go and that would just be the start.

  7. To all the misguided/malicious untellectuals voicing eloquent on how India is forcing Demographic change in the valley starting with the Amarnath land issue as a wedge, I can only say “I wish India were or at least were seen to be that ruthlessly pragmatic in dealing with the saudi-paki ummah nexus taking root in the hitherto pretty vale of Kashmir.

    To those even more deluded and or malciious claiming ‘India is doing in Kashmir what China is doing in Tibet’ (Yes, there are Nirav Patel type ‘sthink tanks and respected academics’ in the US mouthing off such prevarications), I again say “I wish India had the gumption, nay, even the desire to be the monster you claim we already are”.

    Anyway, karma catches up with everybody and everything. Bure karmon ka phal bura hi hota hai. The Valley Mohammadens after driving away the Pandits have that much less claim to grievance peddling and genuine sympathy with the majority of Indians who do salute the tricolor with pride. Their loss will become apparent with time and the elephant (India) for one should keep its long memory and use it well. Forgive with thoughtfulness but never forget who b1tched, betrayed or backstabbed you when your chips were down. That includes foreign powers and their fronts inside India like the APHC and a plethora of vocal and surprisingly media-savvy NGOs.

  8. I’ve been a reader here for quite a while, had a couple of things I wanted to share on this post, so am commenting for the first time. Excellent post, BTW.

    I’d agree with you largely, but have always wondered about one thing – what if a plebiscite offers only the option of staying within India (this will be with the removal of Article 370 – leading to the actual integration of the territory into the mainstream) or integrating with Pakistan (i.e. no possibility of an outcome involving the formation of an independent country)? The conversion of princely states into independent nations was not considered a feasible solution during Partition; nothing has changed to merit a rethinking of that particular view.

    ‘Will the Valley’s independence or integration with Pakistan miraculously solve the fundamental problem, or will it merely lead to its reconfiguration?’

    While I’m completely in agreement about the fact that India should not feel guilty about the integration of the princely states (this is only realpolitik), in terms of this particular point I’ve quoted above – what exactly IS the fundamental problem? That Pakistan believes they got a raw deal during Partition, given the valley’s Muslim majority population is clear, leading to their historic interest in the state. In a Kashmiri-plebiscite based secession to Pakistan, what are the outcomes for India that could be considered negative? Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but hasn’t India given Pakistan what it wants – what is Pakistan’s justification for wanting more?

    One potential outcome is ‘Kashmir coming under the sway of the Taliban-like forces that hold sway in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas….’ Which is dangerous from an Indian internal security perspective. But, there would a potential risk-reduction insofar as there really is no justification for continuing a long-dawn low-intensity terrorism campaign in India. Surely, even jehadis have SOME intelligence – if you’re given what you want, why do you need to fight anymore?

    ‘What this implies for India is that the costs will not go away—they will mount.’ Again, I’m not sure if this is the case in a scenario where Kashmir secedes to Pakistan. We may well have to sustain increased holding costs in the medium term in order to ensure Indian internal security; but this would be a burden which may be partially offset by the increased gains from trade and relative stability in Indian relations with Pakistan.

    Were we to believe that ‘Pakistan’s continuing policies of destabilisation’ (within India) would continue even after a potential secession of Kashmir to Pakistan, the scenario would be different. But where is the justification for Pakistan to continue such a course of action? Given their relatively weaker economic situation (not to mention governance issues in FATA, the Pakistani relationship with Afghanistan, etc.), would a Kashmiri secession to Pakistan not free up resources for both India and Pakistan to focus their efforts on other pressing matters from foreign policy, internal security and economic development standpoints.

    On the other hand, if Kashmiris vote during a plebiscite to remain within India, this again may significantly neutralise support within Pakistan for an long term terrorism campaign targetted at India. This is, of course, subject to any plebsicite being carried out in such a free and fair manner, that no one has any right to object to / comment on the ability of the Kashmiri people to make up their own minds in a free and fair election.

    One argument agains this entire line of reasoning is that not giving Kashmiris the right to form an independent state may not be playing the game fairly. None of the parties involved have exactly covered themselves in glory for their behaviour since Partition, and neither India nor Pakistan are under any obligation to make further concessions on the matter.

    I appreciate the point you make when you say that none of the parties can ‘plausibly argue that such a move will be free of the immense human tragedy that characterised drawing of new international borders in the subcontinent in 1947 and 1971’. Yet, at the cost of sounding callous, should the development of 1.3 billion people across two countries be held hostage to the costs of dealing with the ~10-12 million people that comprise the region? -Specifically when what we would offer them is the chance to choose which country they want to belong to (albeit 60 years after the rest of India and Pakistan got to decide for themselves).

    Apologies for rambling on and on, but this was an excellent, thought-provoking piece and I only wanted to share my 2 cents….

  9. Swaminathan Aiyar one of our best columnists? Not really. Not when he thinks that there is no problem of climate change and that a pseudoscientific work of fiction like Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” has scientific merit.

  10. whats next for Kashmir? We can try the Gaza model. Form a military zone along the lines of Gaza/Egypt border and let Kashmiris rule like the Palestinian Authority awaiting formal independence.

    We should also be able to avoid a 1947 like Partition in Jammu. Kashmir is aloof already and Muslims of Jammu can go to Kashmir, if they wish. But I guess they’ll stay in India.

  11. >>Oldtimer: I think we have bigger problems on our hands right now than to worry about KPs.

    Actually, the issue of KPs is larger than KPs. The issue doesn’t concern them alone.

    If there’s going to be another partition of India at all, it has got to be the final one. That means population exchange, and a population exchange *into* India has already happened.

  12. @Nandu: I think that this will embolden the jihadis, since they would have tasted blood. Remember that their ultimate aim is to bring India under Islamic rule and this would be the first step in that direction. India should have a China/Israel like approach the shut the buggers up once and for all. Wonder how our commies will react when we start following their Fatherland’s policies.

  13. It is time to make the toughest choices of our time. Will we continue to bleed, with or without secession? It is painful to see popular and eminent columnists putting out some statements with following it with insightful analysis as you have done. But, as we know, Kashmir is not just piece of land. It is key to our identity. Can a plebiscite be accurate and trustworthy as there are lot of infiltrated non-kashmiris in the region? In a hypothetical scenario, will Kashmiris accept their Jammu brothers as part of India, if plebiscite results say so. Who will decide the future of Kashmir, Hurriyat who are controlled by their masters in Pak? As you accurately mentioned, costs include cost of keeping and losing kashmir and they are more than sum of the parts. It will be a huge miscalculation to give in to the demands without coming up with strategic options and analysis.

  14. There was some talk in the press a while ago (I think it was an article by Prem Shankar Jha in Outlook) that the outlines of a solution had been worked out between the two countries but had not yet been signed off on by India for fear of a political backlash.

    Though all three states around it have differences amongst them, they are clear on one thing – a fully independent Kashmir is unacceptable. Secondly, mood in the valley changes just like everywhere else. People danced in Pakistan when Nawaz Sharif was overthrown a few years ago, now they dance as Musharraf resigns. Why do we beleive that the mood in the valley will not sway likewise overtime? And given especially that the overwhelming sentiment in for independence, not accession to Pakistan, it is unclear whether a plebiscite can frame a final solution.

    The solution therefore would have to involve a compromise between the two countries with Kashmir retaining its autonomy and strong ties with governments on both sides of the border (have we not been over this before?).

  15. Balaji: whats next for Kashmir? We can try the Gaza model …

    Or not. We can continue growing our economy. When Kashmir comes up in international fora, India takes a hard stance, Pakistan squeals like a pig, the Valley Sunnis air their deep hatred of India – and everyone remembers how much business with India is worth to them and shut up.

    China did much worse in Tibet – demographic assimilation included – and everyone else shut up.

    Time to get a little thick-skinned. If the US can brush off concerns about something as blatant as Iraq, why can we not disregard the wailing tree-huggers demanding the “rights” of the people? The tree-huggers are usually left-wing loonies on the prowl for a high-profile cause – when Kashmir cools down they’ll head elsewhere. They’re gonna do exactly nothing. And so not worth worrying about. In short, we should act like the Big Boy we now are.

  16. Nandu,

    It’s always nice to see a longtime reader jump into the fray in the comments section. Thanks for the comment.

    The fundamental problem has two dimensions: the external dimension is the insecurity complex that India’s smaller neighbours perceive. This is structural and won’t go away. One way to manage it—it might be impossible to solve it—is to create pro-stability constituencies in neighbouring countries. The internal dimension is intolerance.

    A plebiscite, in whatever format, will not only fail at addressing the fundamental problem—it’ll make it worse.

  17. While the idea may be tempting to get rid of Kashmir and offset the increased security costs with increased trade with Pakistan, Nandu, how much do you think trade with Pakistan is worth? In fact why should we even bother to trade with Pakistan with all their conditions ? The only stuff they have to sell to us in probably wheat and maybe sugar , both of us which we do not need. India has been for too apologetic towards its neighbours, be it Pakistan or Bangaladesh ,Nepal or even Sri Lanka. For a country our size and influence, we are far too accommodating. Whether it is Pakistan meddling in Punjab & Kashmir or Bangladesh killing BSF jawans and returning their bodies strung on poles (anyone remember this) or a two-bit Maoist called Prachanda in Nepal, we have taken too much $hit. It is time we as a nation collectively rose and gave a strong response so that everybody notices that we mean business. Having 8% growth with an effeminate policy is of no use. Russia whacked Georgia over a much smaller issue.
    Anyone care to read what Medvedev said? I quote “If anyone thinks that they can kill our citizens and escape unpunished, we will never allow this,”.If anyone tries this again, we will come out with a crushing response. We have all the necessary resources, political, economic and military.” When was the last time an Indian Prime Minister had the guts to say something like this ?

    Arundhati Roy & Swaminathan Aiyer are just bleeding heart leftist loonies. Aiyer’s columns make no sense most of the times and Roy produced a trashy book no one cared to read . They certainly do not speak for me and a million other Indians who care about every inch of Indian territory.They should be tried for treason and locked up somewhere. The time has come for a truly nationalist Indian political party. The BJP has become as opportunistic as any other party, a pale shadow of its former self. We need our own version of Israel’s Likud ? We have to rise over our caste, linguistic and religious differences else we may not have a country in twenty years.

  18. Sanghvi and Aiyar are retarded.

    If Kashmir is separated from India, ISI will open its Srinagar branch the very next day. Pigs in black (Talis) will patrol the streets in their Toyota pickups beating women and executing them. They will catch Omar Abdullah, strip him and hang him from an apple tree. They will ban Bollywood. ISI will coordinate all this just to spite us.
    I don’t think all Kasmiris want separation … atleast not the ones who have some sense.

    India needs to make sure that the military be more considerate to the locals …. a little less desigiri.

  19. But why should we not be open to the idea of another partition? The current situation is not getting us anywhere.

    Pakistan claims that Kashmir is part of the unfinished agenda of partition. This agenda was, if we recall, to create a separate country for pre-partition India’s Muslims. That agenda indeed remains unfinished, in more ways than one.

    We could solve our communal problem, put an end to terrorism, and rectify politics based on pandering of votebanks. With 200 million less poor people — poorer than the rest if Sachar committee is to be believed — to feed, economic superpower status will become an achievable goal within our lifetimes.

  20. Let’s distinguish between posturing and deadly intent. The only player with deadly intent in this game is the ISI. Everyone else is posturing – means they’re going to do diddly besides yelling teri jaan, meri jaan, pakistan, pakistan. How pathetic is it to march to the freaking UN in Srinagar??!! These dudes are not “in it to win it”. They’re hooting like chimpanzees and watching if anyone notices. Aiyar and Sanghvi got a little taken in by the antics of aforementioned simian primates.

    So let’s hold the line on law and order and make some political concessions like cross-LoC trade. And hold elections on schedule, coaxing, cajoling and threatening as necessary. This is one instance in which Big Brother _does_ know best.

  21. @Nitin – ‘The internal dimension is intolerance…. A plebiscite, in whatever format, will not only fail at addressing the fundamental problem—it’ll make it worse.’ Agree completely. My only point is that this the problem will become worse in the short term; and the costs may be worth the lack of headaches in the long run.

    @sparx – ‘how much do you think trade with Pakistan is worth?’ I’m not sure, but my understanding was that India-Pak trade would hit the $10 billion per annum number by next year. Just to present the alternate cost we’re dealing with here – Siachen costs us (apparently) $1 million a day. We’re spending 350 million (in Siachen alone) to fight with someone who trades with us for 10 billion every year. You tell me, how does the math on this make sense? And insofar as trading in wheat and/or sugar goes – what difference does it make what we trade or what they have available to sell? We’re trading because we get their goods for cheaper than we can produce them. On a separate note, I would gladly agree that Arundhati Roy is definitely very close to being commie loony, if not there already!!

  22. I guess india lost its authority the day if allowed one of its states to be ethnically cleansed. Why was there so little resistance and it is shameful that indian citizens had to live in refugee camps in our own territory. Jihadis will never be satisfied- they dont have a unique goal- these are misguided people grown up seeing only violence. A really independent Kashmir cannot exist- A seemingly independent kashmir under indian control is the best solution for everyone.

  23. Revathi, it is not just about a seemingly independent Kashmir. It should be a goal for the Indian nation to provide more freedoms to our states in order to take governance as close to the people as possible. The problem is, IMHO, this change has to start from a state of fairness and equality of status among all the states, a state that will not exist till Article 370 is abrogated.

  24. Also, a curious question to add to your argument. If Kashmir is separated will there not be other states who would want independence from India as the Govt. I mean would it not encourage them into try and become an independent state. Or, would it not make the Jihadis successful in what they wanted and try to do the same in other states of India and break the country into pieces?

  25. @Nandu : Where did you get your numbers from ? Sorry to doubt your sources but my google search revealed that Indo-Pak trade is expected to reach $1 billion in the next few years. Surely that is not a very large number to lose sleep over. More importantly wheat and sugar are not strategic imports for India. They can be bought on the world market for the right price. More importantly keep in mind what each side has to offer to the other. As far as India goes, we have a market of 1 billion + people, an economy growing at 8+ % , significant expertise in industries like pharma, chemicals, IT , engineering etc. I do not know what Pakistan has to offer in comparison. Pakistan,if it was serious over improving relations would have given the go ahead for the Iran pipeline and collected in excess of $500 M in transit fees. It is time for us to realize that we have left Pakistan far behind in terms of development. We are an ‘aspiring’ global power, Pakistan is a 2nd rate , not even a regional power. They exist only for nuisance value. We should not be giving our vast market away at the altar of peace, when peace itself is not guaranteed.

    I guess that pokes a hole in your Siachen argument. There is no price that can be put on land. A million $ a day is a price we should be willing to pay to protect our territory. By your argument, why should we be opposing any secessionist movement at all . Since it costs good money to protect our land, let anyone and everyone come and take a piece of India away. We will put the money saved in fixed deposits for a tomorrow that may never come.

  26. http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/FullcoverageStoryPage.aspx?sectionName=&id=3607a546-fe93-4292-8a69-6f9ec07e0055AmarnathLandRow_Special&&Headline=Lal+before+the+storm

    Another bleeding heart. Just because the truth is bitter, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be said. Mr. Gandhi somehow twists Mr. Advani’s letter as anti-Muslim. In the entire discussion of the current agitation, I have not heard any statement which is against Indian Muslims, people are agitating against Kashmiri Muslims and their leaders. All the ethnic cleansing is forgotten and Kashmiri’s are painted as the victims.

  27. This is my first visit to the blog, but couldnt refrain from commenting..

    Y is no body talking about china??? I guess, it will be benefited by separate kashmir…it will get control of kashmir through pakis, n try n intimidate india. All the columnist who r arguing about democracy should also understand that no country can live in full democracy mode all d time, if there r external factors affecting the possible political outcome. Next, when some country attacks us, they will say, oh the people vote and decide if we want war or not. Total $hit……….democracy is not 100% right nor is any other variety. You need to think about india’s integrity(even without kashmir) and about its security. The same kind of people argued this way in 1947, and what did we get. A land full of pakis not able to run a country…..same will happen to kashmir, and letting kashmir go will lead a wrong example. Whole world would be laughing at India if we do this kind of act. Why dont all this columnist go and get a life instead. They are not expert in all the field and they should understand that and refrain from Anti-India like statements. Though I would prefer to call it Anti-Indianism (cause living in diversity is what makes India special. Ask people of other country who visits India, u will know)


  28. NRA,

    >> It should be a goal for the Indian nation to provide more freedoms to our states in order to take governance as close to the people as possible. >>

    I hear this a lot. Can you elaborate why more powers to the state would be beneficial ?

    What specific powers would you like each state to have that it does not already have ?

  29. When we talk of ‘AZADI ‘first lets try to understand what does the term stand for.
    Sepratists who are compairing this to the Indian Swaraj movements, be reminded that swaraj meant self rule.In todays Kashmir ‘swaraj’ is practised, Kashimiris are a part of the state machinary,not only the part they are the rule makers and breakers.The difference of rule between the rest of India and Kashmir is the Act under which no one from the other states can own a piece of land there.

    Moving furthur ,lets just try to predict what will happen if Kashmir separates from India. Should it merge with Pakistan or sholud it remain independent ? before anything lets not forget the partition of 1947, the scars of which are not yet healed on both side of the border.Muslims who left India to a so called land of Muslims are fighting for their rights even today. Do we really beleive that Kashmir’s pristine glory will be restored and people in the beautiful valley will be singing songs of harmony ? Lets talk facts.

    After their separartion they will be more susceptible to Pakistan ,which in today’s time has no strong leadership. Kashmir may be eventually be engulfed by the state which even after 62 years of independece is still struggling to ged rid of fanatism and move towards developement.
    Then if we are saying Kashmir is for Kashmirirs then lets go back in the history and find out who actually do you mean by Kashmirirs . Kashmir was an integral part of India in the Mauryan empire (4th century BC) and in 17th century it was acquired by Afghan Durrani’s empire. Then later the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh , annexed Kashmir. In 1846, upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Dogras—under Gulab Singh—became the new rulers.The Kashmiri Pandits who inhabitated the land from centuries were eventually driven out of their homeland two decades ago ; under a well thought over strategy of the sepratists who held the Pakistani guns.
    Today we are talking what Pakistan wanted us to think : that Kashmir was never a part of India .Separating Kashimr would mean Kashmiri Pandit’s dream to return to their homeland is snatched away from them ,forever.
    Last but not the least lets try to visualize the political drama in India after the separation. The ULFA in Assam,GNLF in Darjeeling ,Babbar Khalsa in Punjab nad countless similar oraganisations will be boosted.Today terrorism is eating India.These are the shackels which are pinnig India down. What will be the state of the country which needs developement to counter its every problem? What Azadi are we talking of ? Complete anarchy will prevail India.
    After going through these points,which are just a handful of the numerous such points,lets talk of ‘azadi ‘. In my personal opinion it is a failure of the Home Ministry and specfically Shivraj Patil who handeled the matter ineficiently, timely action would have prevented the grim state.
    It is a matter which needs to be solved politically.Strategies have to be defined by the central government ,economic reforms need to be stepped up ,proper developement plans needs to be executed for the already tired and war trodden people of our Kashmir.Lets look for a solution which will eventually restore the harmony in the valley and the rest of our country.

  30. If Amit Varma thinks that being liberal means giving away Kashmir because a few ten thousand people want azaadi, wouldn’t it be OK if Raj Thackerey get about a lakh Maharashtrians on the street asking all non-marathi speaking people to get out ? After all it is against liberal thought to have non-marathi speaking people in a state against the wishes of about a lakh of its people.

  31. hey Guyz,

    I wonder what do you think Of our honorable Home minister.Is he just there to sport the fancy sherwanis and hair gels or do atleast something what a home minister is supposed to do.
    I dont really know much about him but his actions do not really speak much of his character.

  32. There is an important point being missed here. Yes, some Kashmiri Muslims want to become a part of Pakistan because of Islam. But most of them know that their Kashmiri identity will be completely swamped if Kashmir merges with Pakistan. At the same time, the brute majority of their Muslim identity does not allow them to be ruled by ‘Hindus’.

    So, they talk of Azadi, azadi from India and azadi from Pakistan, with India being the guarantor of that Azadi, and nothing else. India has to be really dumb to continue to remain in that trap that Kashmiris have cleverly put it into.

    Kashmiris have been conning both India and Pakistan for 60 years. it is time to either call their bluff or let only the Valley of Kashmir be swallowed whole by Pakistan Punjabis, Pathans and Pakhtoons!

  33. @sparx – apologies for this, I was under the impression that India-Pak trade is already $10 billion, it is expected to reach there by 2009 (i.e. by the end of next year). Was an article literally a couple of days ago in DNA, I’m not able to find the article online! It is already well over $ 1 billion – hit that number in 2006 itself. Which co-incidentally was also mentioned in the DNA article.

    ‘More importantly wheat and sugar are not strategic imports for India. They can be bought on the world market for the right price.’ We could hardly be buying at a wrong price currently! We’re buying from them because this is the cheapest solution. And the fact that wheat or sugar are available elsewhere (at a higher price) does not change that not buying it at the lowest available price only hurts our populace – kinda like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    ‘It is time for us to realize that we have left Pakistan far behind in terms of development.’ Completely agree, but what does this have to do ‘giving our vast market away at the altar of peace’?

    ‘By your argument, why should we be opposing any secessionist movement at all.’ But that’s not my argument at all. You’re confusing the presence of ANY secessionist movement for the will of the majority of the Kashmiri people – this entire discussion began with the possibility that a Kashmiri secession to Pakistan would be based on a free and fair plebiscite where all Kashmiris get to vote. Secession based on a plebiscite works ONLY if the MAJORITY of Kashmiris want it.

    Which is the problem Raj Thackeray faces as well (apologies for jumping in on your other comment). He may be able to mobilise one lakh Maharashtrians to the streets of Bombay asking Biharis to leave the city, but does that reflect the will of the majority??

  34. @Nandu :
    1.Here is the article from DNA which I was easily able to find . [http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1184399]. The article says that trade can be about $9 billion by 2009. The same article says that trade was $1 billion in 2006-2007. Which means that there will have to be a 800% increase in a 2 years period.. This is preposterous and I have no freaking clue how that is going to happen. Care to explain ?? Please trust and judge the veracity of your information before you throw numbers around.

    2.Why do you think that wheat or sugar from Pakistan will be any cheaper than wheat or sugar bought from the world market ? Are Pakistanis into charity, especially towards India ? Especially when global food prices are at their highest ??Agree transportation costs might be a bit lower but not significantly low that we have to cower before them.

    3.’It is time for us to realize that we have left Pakistan far behind in terms of development.’ – This is what economic might is all about. How you leverage it to achieve your foreign policy goals . We can promise Pakistan a preferential trade status if and only if complete peace is achieved. But till then, there is no need to get excited about trading with it.

    4. How do you know a majority of Kashmiris want azadi ? What about Kashmiri pandits ?Were they not citizens of kashmir till they were driven out ? Has anyone asked them ? Just because a few thousand people demonstrate in the middle of Srinagar, doesnt mean the majority of Kashmiri’s want azaadi. And before you quote a few media stories, I can quote a few as well where kashmiris didnt want azaadi a couple of years ago.

    5. Raj Thackerey : You yourself answer my question my friend. Most Maharashtrian’s , a majority of them, welcome people from other states. Just as Raj Thackerey and and his supporters do not constitute a majority opinion, a few ten thousand people in downtown Srinagar do not constitute majority Kashmiri opinion .

  35. @sparx – In response to your points.

    1. Apologies again. I merely quoted numbers from a newspaper. Am not verifying them, and do not make claims to their accuracy. Could be wrong about the numbers, but I don’t think I’m wrong about the direction in which they are heading. We ARE trading more with Pakistan, and that is only going to increase.

    2. It would be cheaper, because if it were not, we would not be trading with them in the first place (we’d be buying it where it is cheaper)!!! Just like Pakistan is not doing India any favours by selling the stuff, India is hardly doing them any by buying it. And since when did buying stuff from Pakistan amount to cowering before them?

    3. I see your point. But we’re hitting these numbers soon enough without even thinking of stuff like offering preferential trade status at the end of obtaining complete peace.

    4&5. I don’t know anything of the sort nor do I claim that the majority of Kashmiris want this (ditto for Raj Thackeray). All I’m saying is that a plebiscite will tell us what they DO want. Unless you’re saying you know what they want, but I don’t…:)

  36. @Nandu :
    1 ‘I merely quoted numbers from a newspaper. Am not verifying them, and do not make claims to their accuracy’ – Why do you surprisingly sound like George Bush and his WMD claim in Iraq? 🙂 I think the first rule of any public debate is to be able to back your data with reliable sources and be able to defend them, not take refuge behind ‘I did not verify them’ .
    Trade with Pakistan is going to increase. That is a natural phenomenon. Trade between two places increases over time, usually ! But that is no reason not to be aggressive with Pakistan and show it its proper place in the world ! We had much more to lose in terms of trade with Europe/US when we carried out Pokhran-2. Pakistan is a piffling !

    2. The transportation costs may be cheaper. But a 5-10% increase in transport costs is something I would much rather be willing to pay to ship wheat from Australia or Argentina or US , rather than preclude the option of not going to war with Pak. No one is doing anybody a favour here. This is business but let us not forget that there are more sources and there is no need to lose sleep over Pak wheat or sugar.

    3. I do not claim to know what Kashmiri’s want, but as an Indian citizen whose taxes help fund govt largess in Kashmir all these years, why not have a plebiscite in India as well and find out what Indian citizens want. After all Kashmir is an economic backwater and only Indian govt money has kept it going for the last 60 years. As stake holders, why not ask Indians outside Kashmir ask what they want ??I am sure a majority of Indian citizens will willingly vote to continuing bearing the burden of keeping Kashmir in India.

    The history of the world is littered with secessionist movements , some morally right , some wrong. Secession is morally justified if the rulers oppress the common people as might have been the case in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor etc. We have been treating Kashmiri’s with a velvet hand in a velvet glove. It has been given its own constitution, own flag, lots of developement grants and Kashmiris are very much a part of the legislative law making process.Any Kashmiri can buy land anywhere in India (but not the other way around).Kashmiris can get a job anywhere in India and students can study in any Indian university (often with reserved seats).In short they have as much opportunity to progress in life as any other Indian citizen. So how are they oppressed???Pray tell me ?

    The azaadi slogan is fanned by the ISI with the help of their stooges in Hurriyat , who are basically politicians. They are just using this situation to further their own agenda. Just because Pakistan says so, doesn’t alter ground reality . Being a woolly eyed liberal may be good over a cup of coffee (ala the commies) but the world moves on realpolitik

  37. I really think giving up Kashmir is the only feasible idea. Except that I think it Kashmiris should be given the option of either staying with India or joining pakistan. The azadi option could spell a great lot of trouble.

    If we have leaders who can go through this exercis is a deliberate and well-thought out manner (the way we managed the N-deal process gives me some hope on that count, then we can really use this as a way to completely shift the paradigm of our relationship with pakistan. If we give up Kashmir, then there is really nothing which would motivate pakistan to keep promoting terrorism in India. Which doesnt mean they would automatically shut off the terror pipeline – thats why the negotiations would be so important. To make sure we get some level of guranatee that Pak would not continue to encourage other indian movements.
    The big losers of course would be the kashmiris – what a stupid choice it would be to choose Pakistan over India!! As far as India is concerned, it would be good riddance. Look at the sheer economic cost which can be so productovely focused on more noble objectives like removing abject poverty.

  38. Sanghvi et al need to ask themselves, do Kashmiri Sunni Muslims, who are complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir’s indigenous population, deserve a functioning state to call their own?

  39. Froginthewell, The “friend” is only doing what any good Bastiat Prize recipient would do.

    Did you know that there was a time when the Bastiat Prize recipient would berate those upwardly mobile Indians who sought affirmation from the US of A, and now, the very same person is yet to remove the “Bastiat Prize Recipient” logo from his website. Go figure.

    P.S. I am never going to visit his blog again, and I urge you and others who feel betrayed by his writing to do the same.

  40. Sai,

    If we give up Kashmir, then there is really nothing which would motivate pakistan to keep promoting terrorism in India.

    That is indeed a fundamental misreading of the situation. Pakistan sees dismembering India as a way to resolve its own insecurity complex. This is structural. What makes this strategy rational (ie expected benefits outweigh costs) from its perspective is the fact that the costs of attempting this are not exhorbitantly high. So India’s strategy must focus on this: and the route to it is as much economic as politica/military. We continue to ignore the economic aspect.

    It is also not true that Kashmir is some kind of a liability that is best gotten rid off. It is merely that India has failed to make the asset generate sufficient returns. I’d sack the asset manager rather than dispose off the asset.

  41. I cannot honestly fathom why the state of Kashmir has been accorded special status -article 370?. Does Raj Thuggre want it for Maharashtra -No.

    Whats the big need for Indian taxpayers to keep funding Kashmir at all. The Pandits are welcome to stay in India or remain in Kashmir. If the Indian state uses murderous tactics to handle the Kashmiri separatists, then we have no moral stand as so called stakeholders in asking for forced and peaceful assimilation .

    Some of the comments here seem to naive -they probably are from families that think a battered marriage is better than a broken marriage. Mature thinking should indicate that divorce is the best option for both parties.

    Someone suggested that we hold a referendum for non Kashmiris (Rest of India) to decide on the Kashmiri future. This is basically a bogus argument. The British Raj could have very well said the same about India .
    The basic idea is still that India is a federation of states by consent.The central govt is not a dictator -it exists at the pleasure of the states. If Kashmir doesnt want in, no point in keeping them at cost to Indian lives and property.

  42. @Nitin

    Ok, firstly I shoudl clarify that I stated the case in the extreme. I meant to say we should really explore this option of “Azadi” from kashmir as it seems to make some sense prima facie. Any decision has to be taken based on a strategic cost- benefit analysis rather than at an emotional level (for eg; we will not give an inch of our sacred motherland, its a symbol of our secularism kind of rhetoric). I remember reading some time back that the opportunity cost of the problem is about 1% of the GDP – if true, thats a huge number. Now, I am more than willing to be be convinced that we are getting strategic benefits in excess of the cost, if someone can provide me with the right arguments and facts.
    Secondly, I did sound naive when I said that Pakistan would have no further motivation to destabilize India if kashmir is given away (but again, i was just stating the case in the extreme).Cross-border terror will not automatically cease. But it appears to me a good part of it can be managed depending on the terms of settlement we arrive with Pakistan – Paksitan would be willing to give a lot of concessions to get Kashmir? Can we get some kind of enforceable safeguards on this (with some help from the international community)? I know it sounds far fetched but this option is worth exploring.

    But even assuming Pakistan continues cross-border terror at the same level, India’s freedom from Kashmir ensures that we retreat to a defendable core and are better placed to face the threat. Just because we give up kashmir valley (not J&K, mind you), doesnt mean we would give in to all other seccessionist demands. Really, the Kashmir issue is in no way comparable to to any of the other ones – we are on a much sounder footing every where else

  43. @sparx –
    1. I already said it, and will say it again, my bad.
    2. ‘a 5-10% increase in transport costs is something I would much rather be willing to pay to ship wheat from Australia or Argentina or US , rather than preclude the option of not going to war with Pak’ You would be willing to pay it, I would not. But that’s because I fail to see how importing from Pakistan today precludes the option of going to war against them tomorrow.
    3. ‘why not have a plebiscite in India as well and find out what Indian citizens want’? Applying that analogy, in 1947, the British should have polled the Australians, the Canadians and the Carribbean about we should be given our independence (after all we were all part of the same Empire).
    ‘I am sure a majority of Indian citizens will willingly vote to continuing bearing the burden of keeping Kashmir in India.’ Again, you think so. I don’t.
    4. ‘they have as much opportunity to progress in life as any other Indian citizen. So how are they oppressed???Pray tell me ?’ Where did I ever call them oppressed?? I merely said we don’t know what Kashmiris actually want. In fact, my guess is that a plebiscite will result in Kashmiris voting to stay in India.

    @Nitin – ‘It is merely that India has failed to make the asset generate sufficient returns. I’d sack the asset manager rather than dispose off the asset.’ It hardly makes sense to sack the asset manager, unless we know what he did wrong, who the replacement will be and how we’re going to fix it…:)

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