- By Younus Dar
The partition of British sub continent created two independent nation states- India and Pakistan. History witnessed one of the largest mass migration of people from one side to other accompanied with brutal bloodshed. However, kashmir considered unfinished agenda of partition by Pakistan, has remained at the heart of unending rivalry between two south Asian nuclear states. The dismemberment of east territorial wing of Pakistan with the intervention of india harboured a deep sense of revenge among the elite military establishment in pakistan; it also developed a perception that india was a perpetual enemy bent to destroy Pakistan.
Militarily, diplomatically and economically, India’s power balance is overwhelmingly bigger than pakistan. This disparity of power balance had pushed Pakistan closer to china. The geostrategic position of Pakistan has also been recognised by superpowers, mainly Washington , thus moving closer to Pakistan. The aid given by Washington to Pakistan in the form of military assistance and financial packages has been used to increase capabilities with regard to India. Pakistan has always considered as “coequal partners” mostly in terms of its diplomacy and strategic depth.
The Kashmir conundrum which has shaped the rivalry between two states has much to do to explain the persistence of hostilities between two states. Incompatible national identities is another factor. The internal dimensions and irredentist dimension have encouraged Pakistan to initiate crisis to alter the Status quo territorial power in its favour.
Kashmir is a Muslim majority state. Historically , the elite corporate military circles in Pakistan believe that Kashmir should have been a part of it, but it is politically ruled by a different state. The political leadership in india has engaged in a policy of no revisions on territorial concessions due to domestic constraints. The present government has been demanding to capture parts or full territory of Kashmir which is ruled by Pakistan, that is just a usual rhetoric. This deep sense of resentment has led to low level conflicts, sporadic skirmishes in order to alter the status quo territorial power in its favour.
Pakistan, the weaker state, has the resolve and capability to initiate the crisis to gain some territorial concessions.
It surprises me to see certain media national channels narrowing down the whole Kashmir problem to the level of stone pelting and terming it law and order issue. The elite military in Pakistan is very popular within its society. The corporate elite interests of the army are built around the Kashmir conflict. The building of few power projects by india along the banks of rivers flowing through Kashmir is seen as an act of economic war started by india against pakistan.Any soft approach on Kashmir foreign policy would done a great damage to the credibility of army in Pakistan. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif , who had turned soft on Kashmir issue, is now staring at the prospect of disqualification.
Since 1947, india has not been able to integrate whole population and legitimise it’s control. Majority of population in Kashmir have not turned to secular politics. India needs Kashmir as much Pakistan needs. Any peaceful agreement between two states would require fullfillment of regional aspirations of people of Kashmir. The adjustment of three mutually exclusive claims has to be accommodated simultaneously. With the acquisition of nuclear weapons , F- 16 aircrafts and medium range missiles, the elite circles of Pakistan military ,whose members belong to big landowning families, believe that they can hit any part of india. Former defence minister of india also stressed that india should reconsider its first no use nuclear policy. Kashmir which has become theatre of conflict, has paid a heavy cost in terms of human and material loss. The incompetent political leadership in Kashmir has failed to deliver on political front. The latest institutional mobilisation by students have forced the state authorities to shut down state educational institutes. The historic opportunity offered when PDP allied with BJP has not been translated into a concrete negotiable opportunity. Leadership change and pressure of world powers on both nuclear powers to come to negotiating table will require a remarkable change in the international system.
Y A Dar is a Delhi based kashmiri Journalist.