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War mongering over Kashmir has begun
Friday January 17, 2014 11:35 AM , Syed Ali Mujtaba

Many say Kashmir is the Achilles heals of South Asia and prosperity in the region hinges on establishing peace in the Kashmir valley. While there is a consensus on the problem there is no agreement on how peace could be established in the vexed region.

As a result, surveillance with the point of the gun remains the only modus oprendi to ensure peace in the restive region. Buying off some voices of dissent as General VK Singh has hinted is another method to do so. Then the tried and tested colonial formula to rule through locals is another method to ensure peace. Such quick fix solution is being adopted for the past 65 years or so and going by the recent mood in New Delhi, this will go on. It seems there is no light in the dark tunnel of Kashmir.

This view is supported by are three or four comments that has originated from New Delhi on Kashmir. The first comment was the sharp reaction from BJP leader Arun Jaitely, who apparently was picked over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remark that his government is nearing to some solution to the Kashmir problem, without divulging any of its details.

The BJP leader lambasted the Prime Minister by parroting the Hindi- Hindutva- Hindustan presumptions that accession of Jammu and Kashmir is final and the territories are an integral part of India. The Indian Parliament had unanimously passed a resolution to that effect in 1994. Jaitely jibes that if there is any dispute then it is over the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) which Indian government needs to recover.

It was apparent from the tone and tenor of the BJP leader that Kashmir is not a dispute, it is not a problem, it's not even an issue. Jaitely's presumption is there is nothing in dispute about Kashmir then why to seek any possible solution to it.

Jaitely was happy that India with great difficulty has succeeded in non-internationalization the Kashmir issue and such gains should not be squandered away.

He wants India to strengthen its constitutional and political link with Jammu and Kashmir which can be done by the abrogation of Article 370.
Jaitely warns that withdrawing defence forces from the Kashmir valley would be disastrous and to hold sway over the territories, rule by bonnet is the best possible method.

Jaitely's comment has come in what appears to be some forward movement taking place between India and Pakistan over Kashmir through back channel diplomacy. It is sensed that an agreement has nearly been reached to a temporary resolution of the Kashmir problem and that is to proceed step by step towards some meaningful solution? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was perhaps hinting towards such an understanding that might have developed between India and Pakistan. It could be on the lines of maintaining territorial status quo, de-militarisation in Kashmir, dilution of the Line of Control (LOC) for allowing free movement of people and goods, a tripartite joint mechanism to take decisions on this issue.

The sharp reaction from Arun Jaitely was to preempt any such solution that may be in the offing. By letting loose his patriotic construct on Kashmir, he wanted to play to the gallery. In electioneering year, the BJP leader evoking nationalism liked to score some brownie points over the Congress on this issue.

In his verbose attacks, Jaitely carefully ignores the negotiations that had taken place on such lines during the NDA regime. The agreements India and Pakistan have made in search of solution to the Kashmir problem. Jaitely belittles the importance of Vajpayee's Lahore bus trip, the failed talks in Agra and other such chain of links that forms the body of Kashmir discourse.

Even as Jaitely let his gun blazing on Kashmir issue, the statement of Aam Admi party leader Prashant Bhushan came. Bhusan advocated the demilitarization of the Kashmir valley to give relief to the common man (Aam Admi). A hell was let loose over his comment and he was accused of advocating plebiscite. The Aam Admi party was quick to distance saying that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India was final.

Bhusan later echoed his party's line, but he was sharply reprimanded and was even physically attacked for airing such unpatriotic views. Then the comment of the Army Chief General Bikram Singh that the reduction of forces in Kashmir valley may not suit India's interest closed the debate heading in such direction.

In this series of comments, Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad's who hails from the Jammu region too threw his hat in the ring. In order to take away the sheen from the BJP's armor, the Congress leader stated that Kashmir is an integral part of India. He carefully ignored the commitment given by its party's leadership earlier when this problem actually had cropped up. He maintained a stoic silence about the forward movement taking place on this issue.

If we analyze the recent comments made by the political leaders on Kashmir, it seems none of them recognizes the bilateral negotiation going on between India and Pakistan. It is in public realm that Kashmir is on the agenda the composite dialogue between the two countries. In fact Pakistan has agreed not to internationalize Kashmir issue only on India's assurance that it considers it a dispute that has to be resolved through bilateral means. In this backdrop, what does the comments of Indian political leaders' means in plain terms?

Well the mood in New Delhi is clearly to keep the status quo ante. With the BJP parroting its pet theme, it appears, the war mongering over Kashmir has once again has started. The question remain will war resolve the Kashmir issue? If no then where do we go from here for seeking peace in Kashmir?

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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