- Not just Pakistan, but Nepal too
The Indian government has quietly released new maps of disputed Jammu and Kashmir State. These maps show the disputed state as converted into an Indian `union territory’. The UT includes Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. It appears that India thinks Pakistan is too weak to defend itself. The Indian attitude reflects the Kautliyan template: bheda (sowing seeds of discord) to achieve yana (victory) through danda (force) for weak states. It appears India is enjoying fruition of compliance with its foreign-secretary Shyam Saran’s advice: `India must seek to align with other powerful states to countervail the main adversary [Pakistan].This would mean closer relations with the US, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, all of which share India’s concern over China’s unilateral assertions of power in Asia’ (How India Sees the World: Kautliya to the 21st Century). Now, even the USA has backed up India’s opposition to the China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said on November 22 at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, “We share India’s concerns over projects that don’t have any economic basis and that leads to country ceding sovereignty.” India is the only major country in the world opposed to the OBOR on grounds of `territorial sovereignty. It claims the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan that are `India’s territory’. Kashmiri leader Farooq Abdullah had taunted Indian PM Narendra Modi “to go and occupy these areas.”
After Kashmir, India annexed Nepalese territory in maps: In blatant violation of mutual treaties, India annexed Kalapani area on the India-Nepal border. In a press release, Nepal’s government termed the “unilateral action” as “unacceptable”. India has already occupied over 14,000 hectares (140 km2) Nepalese territory of Susta in Tribenisusta, Lumbini Zone, near Nichlaul, UP.
Honesty, not legal rigmarole, will solve the Kashmir tangle. Without sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or perhaps divine intervention
Saran (ibid. pp. 88-93) says India itself created the Siachen problem. Saran reminisces, in 1970s, US maps began to show 23,000 km of Siachen area under Pakistan’s control. Thereupon, `Indian forces were sent to occupy the glacier in a pre-emptive strike, named Operation Meghdoot. Pakistani attempts to dislodge them did not succeed. But they did manage to occupy and fortify the lower reaches’.
He recalls how Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek agreements could not fructify because of foot dragging. He says ‘NN Vohra, who was the defence secretary at the time, confirmed in a newspaper interview that an agreement on Siachen had been reached. At the last moment, however, a political decision was taken by the Narasimha Rao government to defer its signing to the next round of talks scheduled for January the following year. But, this did not happen…My defence of the deal became a voice in the wilderness’.
Similarly, demarcation of Sir Creek maritime boundary was unnecessarily delayed. Saran tells ` if we accepted the Pakistani alignment, with the east bank of the creek as the boundary, then Pakistan would get only 40 per cent of the triangle. If our alignment according to the Thalweg principle was accepted, Pakistan would get 60 per cent. There was a keen interest in Pakistan to follow this approach but we were unable to explore this further when the Siachen deal fell through. Pakistan was no longer interested in a stand-alone Sir Creek agreement’ (The Thalweg principle places the dividing line mid-channel in the river).
Kashmir dispute: Kashmir dispute was almost settled but delayed by India. In his memoirs In the line of fire, President Pervez Musharraf proposed `a personal solution of the Kashmir issue’. This solution, in essence, envisions self-rule in demilitarised regions of Kashmir under a joint-management mechanism. The solution pre-supposes reciprocal flexibility. The out-of-box Musharraf Kashmir solution is in fact a regurgitation of India’s former foreign secretary Jagat S. Mehta’s proposals. He understood a plebiscite was the real solution. But, India was not willing to talk about it. So, he spelled out ‘requirements prelusive to a solution’. He presented his ideas in his article, ‘Resolving Kashmir in the International Context of the 1990s’. Some points of Mehta’s quasi-solution are: (a) Conversion of the LoC into “a soft border permitting free movement and facilitating free exchanges…” (b) Immediate demilitarisation of the LoC to a depth of five to 10 miles with agreed methods of verifying compliance (c) Pending final settlement, there must be no continuing insistence by Pakistan “on internationalisation, and for the implementation of a parallel or statewide plebiscite to be imposed under the peacekeeping auspices of the United Nations” (d) Final settlement of the dispute between India and Pakistan can be suspended (kept in a ‘cold freeze’) for an agreed period (e) Conducting parallel democratic elections in both Pakistani and Indian sectors of Kashmir (f) Restoration of an autonomous Kashmiriyat (g) Pacification of the Valley until a political solution is reached.
India should heed advice by another of its own foreign secretary J.N. Dixit. He says it is no use splitting legal hairs. “Everybody who has a sense of history knows that legality only has relevance up to the threshold of transcending political realities. And especially in inter-state relations… so to quibble about points of law and hope that by proving a legal point you can reverse the process of history is living in a somewhat contrived utopia. It won’t work.”
Honesty, not legal rigmarole, will solve the Kashmir tangle. Without sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or perhaps divine intervention.