A tale of three nations: India, Pakistan and Kashmir!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
India as well as Pakistan has succeeded in making an alien nation Kashmir a part of both as they fight for “better” share of a nation which was once a sovereign nation and a neighbor of India when Pakistan was not even born. Partition of India giving birth to Pakistan and, later, Bangladesh had nothing to do with Kashmir nation (Jammu Kashmir) which was never been a part of India. Upon India’s freedom from Great Britain, leading to the partition, India very tactfully invaded and occupied Jammu Kashmir as Pakistan also did the same. Pakistan feels it has not got “enough” form Jammu Kashmir. Today both fight for complete Kashmir which does not in fact belong to either. That is tragedy of human civilization and international law.
Indo-Pakistan wars and their mischievous cross fires have terrorized Kashmiris who are also the target of Indian occupational forces, killing thousands of innocent Muslims in order to silence their call for freedom from Indian yoke. Pakistan supports the Kashmiri freedom struggle but it remains silent over the parts of Kashmir under its own military occupation, including Azad Kashmir.
Of late, India and Pakistan have shown inclination to increase bilateral trade and fight “terrorism”, but without affecting their occupational strategies. Side by side they cross fire at the borders, terrorizing the besieged Kashmiris.
At the outset it should be stressed that the efforts by India and Pakistan to forge better ties without resolving the Kashmir “dispute” – core issue of South Asia between the two nuclear powers – is an illogical proposition. India asks Pakistani civilian government to just sideline the Kashmir issue and come forward for cross border trade, even while both trade cross fires at the LOC.
Both conduct “peace talks” perhaps just for fun. Both are slated to conduct security advisor level talks on 23-24 August in New Delhi. The Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders are genuine stakeholders in efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute. For India to refuse to engage in talks with Pakistan on some pretext, is a repeat of what it did when it cancelled the Foreign Secretary level talks that were scheduled to be held on 25 August last year, pursuant to the meeting between the two Prime Ministers in Delhi in May 2014
Tension between the two countries had increased alarmingly as a result of frequent violations on the Line of Control and Working Boundary, in the past months. The need of the hour was for the two countries to engage in sincere and serious dialogue to immediately reduce tensions and to undertake the task of normalization of relations, with sincerity and seriousness.
India said it has urged Pakistan against meeting Kashmiri leaders ahead of rare weekend talks between the two countries’ top security advisers in New Delhi, hiking tensions between the arch rivals. This comes shortly after Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that it would not be possible for Pakistan to entertain an Indian “advice” that Sartaj Aziz should not meet Kashmiri leaders before the secretary-level talks. India also ignores the fact that Kashmiris whose nation Pakistan and itself occupy should be a party in all negotiations between the two. India is opposed to any meeting between Kashmiri freedom “separatists” and Pakistan’s National Security Advisor or NSA Sartaz Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive in Delhi to hold talks on terror with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on 23 August. Three “separatists” – Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq – have been invited to meet Aziz at a reception hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi on the same day, and Pakistan government sources told NDTV today that the plan is still on.
Meeting between Pakistani envoy and Kashmiri leaders is common practice before consultations and talks between the two countries. Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said in Islamabad that they have received no message from New Delhi linking the fate of the talks between the NSAs to Aziz’s meeting with the “separatists” (Kashmiris). Pakistan has in the past described such meetings with pro-independence leaders as a longstanding practice to facilitate meaningful discussions.
In order to create confusion, on 20th August, the three separatists invited to meet Pakistan National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz – Yasin Malik, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq – were placed under house arrest in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, and were released within two hours.
Indian sources said the action was meant to signal India’s stand that the separatists “cannot be a third party to talks.” They also said that it put the ball in Pakistan’s court.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said “It is unfortunate we are being used as an excuse to get out of talks. This is only a reception, why so much hue and cry?” Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “I have never seen an Indo-Pak dialogue where both sides are so keen to sabotage it. India and Pakistan are competing to give reasons to call off talks.
The Indian BJP government had in July last year called off talks after Pakistan consulted Kashmiri separatists before a meeting of foreign secretaries. Tanwir Sadiq of the ruling People’s Democratic Party of JK said, “We have always advocated a dialogue between the Hurriyat, India and Pakistan.” The PDP rules Jammu and Kashmir in partnership with the BJP, which is in power at the Centre.
For the NSA talks in Delhi, Pakistan had proposed a comprehensive agenda, consistent with the decisions taken by the two Prime Ministers in Ufa, which included discussion on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, as well as terrorism related matters, and other issues such as religious tourism, release of fishermen and peace and tranquility on the LoC. However, regrettably, the Indian side’s desire to restrict the agenda to terrorism related issues only, amounts to a negation of the decisions taken by the two Prime Ministers.
Hurriyat Conference leaders Syed Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will be attending the event though. Top government sources described the detention and release of the separatists as “a signal that they cannot be a third party to talks.” Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader Yasin Malik said he will skip the Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz’s reception hosted by the Pakistan High Commission. Malik will instead send a two-member delegation from his party Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) He announced the decision after discussing the issue with his party members. Malik has not disclosed the reason for his decision to skip the meeting.
Indian government sources have said that India will not allow the separatists to meet with Aziz. Pakistan could meet the separatists in a separate room and sell it as a meeting, said sources, and New Delhi would not allow that. Pakistan’s invite to separatists is seen as a move designed to provoke India, but the government has said it will not be baited into cancelling what is the first such dialogue between the two countries after a year.
Meanwhile, Pakistan also hardened its stand, saying it had no official word from New Delhi and was firm on the meeting with separatists on Sunday evening. In what could stir more trouble, foreign office spokesperson Qazi Khalilulah said Aziz would “raise all issues including Kashmir… We will not be browbeaten on Kashmir. The so-called Indian red lines will not dictate Pakistan agenda,” Pakistan government sources said.
Demonstrating an aggressive stance on Kashmir, Pakistan today also cancelled a Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference after refusing to invite the Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker as demanded by India.
The meeting between Ajit Doval and Sartaj Aziz on the weekend is meant to focus on terror and comes as Pakistani troops have fired across the border in Jammu and Kashmir, targeting civilians. There have also been two major terror attacks by Pakistanis in Punjab and Uddhampur in the Jammu region. Mohammad Naveed, captured there, has revealed crucial information to interrogators about training camps in Pakistan for terrorists like him.
Last July, India called off talks after Pakistan consulted Kashmiri separatists before a meeting of Foreign Secretaries. A year later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif met on the sidelines of a conference in Ufa, Russia, and agreed to restart talks as part of several breakthrough announcements.
Kashmir is a disputed territory as per the UN Security Council resolutions which remain unimplemented. Pakistani leadership has always interacted with the Kashmir/Hurriyat leadership, during their visits to India. Pakistan sees no reason to depart from this established past practice. The Hurriyat leaders are true representatives of the Kashmiri people of the Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan regards them as genuine stakeholders in the efforts to find a lasting solution of the Kashmir Dispute
The talks, which were scheduled to take place on 23 and 24 August, flowed from a decision taken by the two Prime Ministers on 10 July, in the Russian city of Ufa. The India government-run Indian News Agency PTI reported calling off National Security Adviser (NSA) level talks with Pakistan, but immediately toned down its rhetoric saying the talks had become “unlikely” after recent developments. Though India has not formally called off the proposed NSA-level talks scheduled to be held on August 23-24 in New Delhi, Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Swarup said unilateral imposition of new conditions and “distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward”.
Pakistani foreign office Spokesman said ‘we are deeply disappointed at the statement of the Spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, putting forth pre-conditions for official talks to take place with Pakistan at the level of the National Security Advisors.’ He said this is the second time that India has chosen to go back on a decision mutually agreed upon between the two Prime Ministers, to engage in a comprehensive dialogue, by coming up with frivolous pretexts.
India’s insistence to introduce conditionalities and restrict the agenda for the dialogue, demonstrates a lack of seriousness on India’s part to meaningfully engage with Pakistan. Pakistan says it has always demonstrated its belief in the dialogue process and is prepared to engage in meaningful talks with India, to resolve all outstanding issues that have bedeviled relations between the two countries, for the past many decades. Pakistan does not disregard agreements or understandings. It is the Indian side which has reneged on commitments agreed upon between the two Heads of Government in the past year. Pakistan wishes to reiterate its abiding commitment to promoting a relationship of cordiality and cooperation with all its neighbours, including India, in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s vision of a peaceful neighborhood.
Meanwhile, In the Indian capital New Delhi, Modi Government has trapped in its newly framed policy to keep Hurriyat leaders out of the long- standing issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Ignoring this historic fact has landed India in its own web making difficult for the three stake-holders in the dispute to move forward for peace in South Asia.
India, Pakistan and Kashmir are three nations and they shall always remain so for ensuring healthy region. India and Pakistan have to leave the Kashmiris alone, letting them reconstruct their Kashmir home and live peacefully without foreign military presence.
Pakistan must first declare its intention of allowing a sovereign Kashmir to reemerge in South Asia. India would follow suit. Occupation goes against the norms of stable globalization and genuine democracy.