– Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury*
I am writing on a forbidden issue. This is Kashmir problem. None has imposed any ban on writing on Kashmir. But the friendship and co-operation that Bangladesh has now with India, then would it be reasonable to injure this friendship by writing something on Kashmir? But the Kashmir problem has turned to be so explosive that without writing anything in this respect I feel conscience-stricken.
An old Kashmir problem of 72 years now has turned such fiery that by its explosion not only in Kashmir but also in the sub-continent destruction may ensue. Quarreling two sides on Kashmir- India and Pakistan both the countries possesses nuclear weapons. If a war starts on the Kashmir issue between the two countries and then if the atom bomb is used due to carelessness by a side, Bangladesh also would fall in serious crisis like that of other small countries of the sub-continent. So there is no way of evading the problem now.
We need to remember that the II World War took place basically in Europe. Towards the end it spread in Asia. During this war 50 lakh people died in Bangladesh due to manmade famine. This time if a nuclear War between India and Pakistan takes place on the issue of Kashmir Bangladesh also won’t escape from the destruction.
Right from the partition of India quarrel started between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. Off and on heated collision took place. War also took place more than once. A major type of war that occurred between India and Pakistan on Kashmir in 1965 got stopped by the mediation of the former Soviet Union. After the War of Independence of Bangladesh in 1971 the Indira government of India compromised with the national leader of Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah. He again became the Prime Minister of Kashmir. In the Tashkent Agreement of 1965 and Simla Agreement of 1972 made between India and Pakistan, both the sides agreed to maintain status quo in Kashmir. This status quo means to stop conflicts and to accept two parts of Indian occupied Kashmir and that of Pakistan.
Pakistan did not follow this agreement for long. Border conflicts started again. Inside Kashmir hostility to India started. People of Kashmir did not accept the inclusion to India. They initiated movement; Delhi deployed army to thwart this increasing demonstration. Extensive terrorism in Kashmir ensued. The anti-Indian agitation in India was initially non-communal. They did not perceive Pakistan as their friend. Because condition of the people in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (which is called Azad Kashmir) was worse than that of the people in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Azad (freed) Kashmir is free (Azad) by name only; the citizens of it has no civic rights. Here also runs a henchman government and army rule. Election is held in the Indian occupied Kashmir and the elected government sits in power; the area has experienced an extensive development. After the war of 1965 I had an opportunity to visit Azad Kashmir and Akhnoor in Indian occupied Kashmir. Then I could see with my own eyes the difference between the two Kashmirs.
India claims that Kashmir voluntarily joined India. The contention is not true. The communal politics of Muslim League could never enter Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah was the leader of all Kashmiris irrespective of Hindu-Muslim and party. National Conference was the principal and the most popular party. Sheikh Abdullah was a personal friend of Pandit Nehru.
AT the time of partition of India in 1947, like that of other native states the fate of Kashmir also remained unsettled. The people of Kashmir had the desire to remain non-communal independent country by not being unified with none of Indian and Pakistan Dominion. Initially Nehru was half agreed to such a system. But after a few days of Indian partition it became clear that if Kashmir stayed independent Pakistan would occupy Kashmir by sending army. On this concern Sheikh Abdullah gave his consent to the declaration of Hindu Dogra Raja to join India. But there were few conditions.
The conditions were: Kashmir won’t be a constituent state of India. It would be a state with special dignity or special status. Foreign Affairs, Communications and Defense Ministries would be at the hands of India. In case of other affairs the state authority will reserve the right to exercise. Kashmir would possess a separate flag, a separate constitution and the Chief of the government of the state would be called Prime Minister in place of Chief Minister. Nehru government accepted all these conditions and Kashmir joined India. In place of Ramchandra Kak Sheikh Abdullah became Prime Minister.
The first attacker in Kashmir was Pakistan. Without any heedfulness to the opinion of the Kashmiris Pakistan attacked Kashmir to occupy the land and occupied about half of it. To resist this onslaught India sent army to Kashmir and saved more than half of rest of Kashmir including the capital Sreenagar. On the Kashmir dispute at first India went to the United Nations and accepted the resolution that India would honor the result of plebiscite by Kashmir people.
The commitment of the holding of plebiscite was never kept by Nehru. Rather he avoided it on different false pleas. Mass discontent in Kashmir went on increase. Taking the opportunity of this mass discontent Pakistan began to sent trained terrorists to this country. Save the continuous clashes in the border areas of Kashmir two major types of war took place between the two countries on Kashmir. Two Agreements of Tashkent and Simla also failed to establish a lasting peace between these two countries.
It is futile to accuse any one side for creating Kashmir problem. Both the countries are equally responsible. At the root of creating the intricate situation is the attacking policy of Pakistan (the efforts of occupying Kashmir by applying military force or through sending terrorists) and on the other side misguided and promise breaking policy of India. Not only breach of pledge for extending rights of determining their fate through holding plebiscite by the Kashmiris during the Nehru period by rupturing the constitutional pledges given to Sheikh Abdullah it was also claimed that ‘Kashmir is the part and parcel of India.’
Establishment of direct rule of Delhi in Kashmir, to bifurcate the divided state again with an unholy communal purpose, extensive army deployment in the state, house arrest of the popular leaders of the state, abolishing the rest of the constitutional safeguards of civil rights of the Kashmiris- all these measures that have been taken by Modi government although may be matters for criticism but the governments before the present BJP government including Nehru government requires recollection of memory of breaking the promises by prior Congress government.
The Shar-E-Kashmir who trusted his friend Nehru so much, became dislodged from the power by a Delhi-controlled midnight coup. Under Bakshi Golam Mohammad a henchman government was seated in the power.
After Nehru government other Congress government one after another special status of Kashmir, her separate constitution and the right of self-rule – all these and the position of the Prime Minister was declared as the position of Chief Minister. Moreover Kashmir was declared to be an organ state of India like that of other states. After such a time the BJP government of Delhi by snatching away the residual rights of the Kashmiris and also rescinding the equal status of Kashmir like other states has driven the last nail into the coffin of Kashmir Problem. So it can be said that in plundering the rights of the Kashmiris Congress is not less responsible.
In the last hours of his life Nehru could understand his mistake. He could realize that he did not do good in attracting to involve the then two powers- USA and USSR in the cold war. Without taking into consideration of the demands of Kashmiris the policy of sharing the state with Pakistan he followed was wrong. By suppressing the key power of politics of Kashmir National Conference and Sheikh Abdullah he pushed the people of Kashmir towards the path of communalism. So it was possible on the part of the terrorists trained in Pakistan to snatch away his leadership entering the non-communal nationalist movement. After the death of Nehru the Islami militants also brought about infiltration into the anti-Indian Movement in Kashmir extensively and carried on widespread reign of terror.
However, towards the beginning of the sixties before his death Pandit Nehru released Sheikh Abdullah from jail on this feeling and drew up a rational plan for the solution of Kashmir problem. Whether Pakistan would accept this plan or not- to know the matter Sheikh Abdullah was sent to Pakistan as a mediator.
Kuldip Nayar, the late Indian journalist was present there during the visit of Sheikh Abdullah in Lahore. The then government of Pakistan hinted that whatever good-bad peace formulae would be advanced by Nehru-Abdullah, they would consider it. Kuldip Nayar wrote that after Sheikh Abdullah had reached Lahore lakhs of men-women welcomed him by raising the slogan Sher-E-Kashmir Zindabad.
In an article Mr. Nayar wrote that whenever he was just about to sit with the Pakistan government for a dialogue, a news came that the Prime Minsiter of India Jawaherlal Nehru suddenly expired, Sheikh Abdullah in a public meeting in Lahore said with tears in his eyes ‘My friend is no more. My dream is also burried. Perhaps I won’t see the solution of Kashmir problem in my life time.’
Words of Sheikh Abdullah has come true. After the death of Nehru dialogue on his formulae did not advance. During the first BJP government Prime Minister Atal Behari Bajpaye failed to establish friendship with Pakistan. The then top BJP leader L.K. Advani paid homage to the memory of Jinnah at his mausoleum in Karachi and praised. It did not touch the minds of Pakistani military rulers. They had serious hatred against India. While Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister of Pakistan he tried to improve the relation with India. His generals started a battle in Kargil and this nullified his efforts. Norendra Modi also after being elected Prime Minister of India first time tried to make close relationship with Nawaz Sharif. The military guardians of Nawaz Sharif did not help advance him in this respect.
Few days back after the death of about half a hundred of Indian soldiers by horrific terrorist attack in Kashmir, Modi government made the Pakistan government responsible and made bomb attack inside Pakistan. Pakistan also made retaliatory bomb attack. The relation of India and Pakistan dropped down to the last bottom. By making Pakistan responsible for terrorism as a retaliatory measure of all rights of the Kashmiris won’t solve the problem. Rather this jingoism and the pounding of rights of the people of Kashmir the democratic image of India to the world would damage.
In the face of war threat by India Pakistan also warned of retaliation. Prime Minister Imran Khan said ‘They would resist India by the last drop of blood’. In one side war-drum is being sounded centering Iran in the Middle East. And on the other side if the long dormant volcano starts emitting lava centering round Kashmir in the South Asia in that the entire world would kindle in destruction.
At this it is necessary that India and Pakistan be kept away from any war and whatever impossibility there may be both the sides should be brought to discussion table. In 1965 this work was done by Soviet Union. The USA was in the role of Narad Muni. This time Putin of Russia would come forward with the role of mediator- perhaps this is the hope.E
* Veteran Journalist of Bangladesh
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.