You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

US, India and the 'K-word'

AFTER great expectations had been raised in Kashmir and Pakistan that the new American president would finally do something about resolving the Kashmir issue, it appears that India and its supporters on the Capitol Hill have been able to dissuade him from doing so.

According to a report, on New Delhi’s request the US administration has kept the dispute out of the portfolio of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (Jan 31). It cites the Washington Post as saying: “Eliminating… Kashmir from his job description…” is seen as a significant diplomatic concession to India that reflects increasingly warm ties between the country and the United States.

The Post also reported that Indian diplomats, worried about Mr Holbrooke’s tough-as-nails reputation, didn’t want him meddling in Kashmir. Ambassador Holbrooke is nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for arm-twisting warring leaders to the negotiating table as he hammered out the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war in Bosnia.

Also, in interviews to various US news outlets, Indian officials warned Ambassador Holbrooke against ‘any high-profile intervention’ in Kashmir, pointing out that it was so politically sensitive in India that it’s referred to as the ‘K-word’. Further, that India’s former national security adviser, Brajesh Mishra, has said that his country was never going to relinquish control of Jammu and Kashmir because “that is written in stone and cannot be changed.”

The Indians are free to make any claims but they are reminded that there is another ‘K-word’ that is even more indelibly written in the life of nations and individuals, about which they ought to know better than anyone else. The word is ‘karma’ and is now known to ordinary people globally more than Kashmir is.

For 60 years India has been trying hard to digest what it had forcibly tried to swallow but the situation is that today it can neither swallow nor expel something that is non-kosher for it. The deadly side-effects of this unlawful morsel include a violent resistance on the part of the Kashmiri freedom-fighters — the erstwhile Indian premier Vajpayee had himself acknowledged it to be an indigenous struggle — that has caused much pain to India.

A fair estimate puts the number of those killed (another ‘K-word’) since 1989 at 80,000 and the Mumbai attacks appear to be one more manifestation of the karma. Another, even more frightful effect has been the nuclearisation of the region.

It is time India stopped fighting reality and accepted what the world leaders and even some of its own intellectuals and peace activists are saying. The famous writer and activist Arundhati Roy had been very candid and correct when she wrote last year (Dawn, Sept 3, 2008):

“For all these years the Indian state has done everything it can to subvert, suppress, represent, misrepresent, discredit, interpret, intimidate, purchase — simply snuff out the voice of the Kashmiri people. It has used money…, violence…, disinformation, propaganda, torture, elaborate networks of collaborators and informers, terror, imprisonment, blackmail and rigged elections to subdue what democratic people would call the will of the people.”

This should leave no doubt in anybody’s mind about the third degree New Delhi has given to the Kashmiris.

Instead of expediently trying to please India, Mr Obama should join hands with other countries such as Britain that think alike on the subject and do something concrete to resolve the issue fairly, in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiris.

The international community should not allow India to let its desire to hang on to Kashmir it grabbed from its real owners and continue to compromise the regional and global peace by blackmailing even the superpower. This would actually be in the nation’s own interest as well as that of South Asia and the rest of the world.


TopDAWN - Letters; February 10, 2009
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