Against the general impression gained by the world that Pakistan has been fighting for the cause of Kashmiris, the fact remains Pakistanis are fighting not for Kashmiris but for itself as it wants to annex the parts of Kashmir now under Indian occupation and have been the target of military attacks, fake encounters and genocide spree.
Beyond its open rhetoric India has always maintained that the parts of Jammu Kashmir it annexed soon after its own independence from Great Britain in 1947 as the first ever external operation as a free nation, belong to India and Jammu Kashmir is now an integral part of India. Cutting across their Hindutva intent, both Congress and BJP maintain this “integral” status.
Pakistan also, on its part, annexed a small part of Kashmir and “integrated” into its official territory and after a war with India it got some more parts of Kashmir that it named as Azad Kashmir which is now an integral part of Pakistan.
While India has put a full stop to ay soverign Kashmir, Pakistan also does not think in terms of an independent Kashmir for Kashmiris and it is eager only get Sri Nagar into Pakistani territory for which it is using pro-Pakistani Kashmiris to fight against Indian occupation. And India mercilessly kills Kashmiris for supporting Pakistan and seeking to make Kashmir apart of a destabilized and weak Pakistan.
However, there are Kashmiris both in Azad Kashmir and Jammu Kashmir who seek a soverign Kashmir to live in peace and prosperity, though voices are not allowed to be heard by both India and Pakistan. There so weak that they cannot do anything to achieve their noble cause of establishing a soverign Kashmir.
Had Islamabad worked for an independent Kashmir, most probably Kashmiris would have legally obtained their independent Kashmir by now.
Today, both India and Pakistan are also allies of expansionist fanatic Israel, another colonizer who keeps killing Palestine Muslims, drinking their blood profusely. As a “friend” of Zionist criminal regime, Pakistan cannot be expected to value the worth of freedom and sovereignty and human dignity. Nor can it respect the life of Kashmiri Muslims. Like India, Pakistan and Israel want the enamoring lands and have least concern for freedom and dignity of Kashmiris- the target of Indian colonialist attacks.
Indian Jammu Kashmir and Pakistani Azad Kashmir
At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their suzerainty over the princely states, which were left with the options of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent. Hari Singh, the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted his state to remain independent. In spring 1947, an uprising against the Maharaja broke out in Poonch, an area bordering the Rawalpindi division of West Punjab. Maharaja’s administration is said to have started levying punitive taxes on the peasantry which provoked a local revolt and the administration resorted to brutal suppression. The area’s population rebelled against the Maharaja’s forces and gained control of almost the entire district. The pro-Pakistan chieftains of the western Jammu districts of Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur proclaimed a provisional Azad Jammu and Kashmir government in Rawalpindi on 3 October 1947.
On 21 October, several thousand Pashtun tribesmen from North-West Frontier Province poured into Jammu and Kashmir to liberate it from the Maharaja’s rule. They were led by experienced military leaders and were equipped with modern arms. The Maharaja’s crumbling forces were unable to withstand the onslaught. The raiders captured the towns of Muzaffarabad and Baramulla, the latter 20 miles (32 km) northwest of the state capital Srinagar. On 24 October, the Maharaja requested military assistance from India, which responded negatively and coerced the king to make JK acceded to India. Accordingly, on 26 October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession, handing over control of defence, external affairs and communications to the Government of India in return for military aid. Indian troops, kept ready, were immediately airlifted into Srinagar. Pakistan intervened subsequently. Fighting ensued between the Indian and Pakistani armies, with the two areas of control more or less stabilized around what is now known as the “Line of Control”.
India occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population, consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu’s numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as “Little Tibet”, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.
Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. The Hindutva parties led by BJP question the article and while in opposition they wanted it to be removed. But as the ruling party of India BJP allies understand the need to retina the class and article intact. In fact, article ha so special life for the Kashmiris who get killed by the occupation forces from New Delhi.
Maharaja Hari Singh became the ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1925, and he was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of the British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. With the impending independence of India, the British announced that the British Paramountcy over the princely states would end, and the states were free to choose between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan or to remain independent. It was emphasized that independence was only a `theoretical possibility’ because, during the long rule of the British in India, the states had come to depend on British Indian government for a variety of their needs including their internal and external security.
Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority (77% Muslim by the 1941 census). Following the logic of Partition, it was expected that Kashmir would join Pakistan. However, the predominant political movement (Maharaja Rule) in the Valley of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) was secular, and was allied with the Indian National Congress since the 1930s. So many in India too had wanted Kashmir should join India. The Maharaja was faced with indecision. While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a “reference to the people” after the state is cleared of the invaders, since “only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live.” It was a provisional accession
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 lasted till the end of 1948. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 January 1949, supervised by UN observers. At the beginning of 1948, India took the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution asking Pakistan to withdraw its forces as well as the Pakistani nationals from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India to withdraw the majority of its forces leaving only a sufficient number to maintain law and order, following which a Plebiscite would be held. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 Jan 1949, supervised by UN observers. A special United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up to negotiate the withdrawal arrangements as per the Security Council resolution.
In the end, no withdrawal was ever carried out, India insisting that Pakistan had to withdraw first, and Pakistan contending that there was no guarantee that India would withdraw afterwards. No agreement could be reached between the two countries on the process of demilitarization.
India militarized Kashmir with regular additions of troops and terror goods and local Muslims are under their threats as they have lost sovereignty plus freedom and the right to live in their nation. . India and Pakistan fought two further wars in 1965 and 1971. Following the latter war, the countries reached the Simla Agreement, agreeing on a Line of Control between their respective regions and committing to a peaceful resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations.
India well as Pakistan has no plans of withdrawing from Kashmir and in order to maintain their terror hold over Kashmir, they have equipped their respective military capability with deadly nukes obtained without the approval of IAEA and without signing the NPT.USA allows both to enjoy their nuke arsenals. They continue to blame one another, and terrorize the Kashmiris besieged and sandwiched between them.
When it could not “flush out” Pakistani forces from Kashmir, India approached the United Nations, asking it to resolve the dispute, and resolutions were passed in favour of the holding of a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir’s future. However, no such plebiscite has ever been held on either side as both are not sure of support of Kashmiris for their colonization project. Also, there was a precondition which required the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army along with the non-state elements and the subsequent partial withdrawal of the Indian Army from the parts of Kashmir under their respective control – a withdrawal that never took place. In 1949, a formal cease-fire line separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir came into effect.
Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement with India, the government of Pakistan divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir that it occupied at the time of cease-fire into the following two separately-controlled political entities: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) – the narrow, southern part, 250 miles (400 km) long, with a width varying from 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km).; Gilgit–Baltistan formerly called the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) – the much larger political entity to the north of AJK with an area of 72,496 square kilometres (27,991 sq mi).
At one time under Pakistani control, Kashmir’s Shaksgam tract, a small region along the northeastern border of Gilgit–Baltistan, was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China in 1963 and now forms part of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Status of Azad Kashmir
India quickly made Jammu Kashmir as a part of its territory. There is a confusion as to why Pakistan ah snot yet annexed the Azad Kashmir and added to its territory. Azad Kashmir is accorded a special status with a president and Prime minister ruling it as a country but with guidance from Islamabad. Like in Jammu Kashmir where India parties like Congress and BJP play important roles in the state, in Azad Kashmir Pakistani political parties play important roles. PDP and Muslim league are the dominant parties and now ML is AK’s ruling party.
Raja Farooq Haider Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-N has been elected as new Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Voting for election of new Leader of the House was held in Muzaffarabad. Raja Farooq Haider Khan secured 38 votes while a joint candidate of Muslim Conference and PTI Ghulam Mohi ud din Dewan and Chaudhry Muhammad Yaseen of Pakistan Peoples’ Party bagged five votes each.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also felicitated Raja Farooq Haider on being elected as the new Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In his message, he hoped that the newly elected Prime Minister of AJK will fulfill the expectations of his people.
The territory has a parliamentary form of government with its capital located at Muzaffarabad. The President of Azad Kashmir is the constitutional head of the state, while the prime minister, supported by a Council of Ministers, is the chief executive. The unicameral Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly elects both the prime minister and president. The state has its own Supreme Court and a High Court, while the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Kashmir Affairs serves as a link between it and Azad Kashmir’s government. Neither Azad Kashmir nor Gilgit-Baltistan elects members to Pakistan’s National Assembly.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir commonly known as Azad Kashmir, is a self-governing] administrative division of Pakistan. The territory lies west of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, and was previously part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to exist as a result of the first Kashmir war fought between India and Pakistan in 1947 upon their own freedoms from UK..
Azad Kashmir is part of the greater Kashmir region, which is the subject of a long-running conflict between India and Pakistan. The territory shares a border with Gilgit–Baltistan, together with which it is referred to by the United Nations and other international organisations as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The territory also borders Pakistan’s Punjab province to the south and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to the west. To the east, Azad Kashmir is separated from the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir by the Line of Control, the de facto border between India and Pakistan. Azad Kashmir has a total area of 13,297 square kilometres (5,134 sq mi), with an estimated population of around 4.6 million people.
The 2005 earthquake killed 100,000 people and left another three million people displaced, with widespread devastation. Since then, with help from the Government of Pakistan and foreign donors, reconstruction of infrastructure is underway. Azad Kashmir’s economy largely depends on agriculture, services, tourism, and remittances sent by Pakistanis living abroad. Nearly, 87% of the households own farms in Azad Kashmir, while the region has a literacy rate of approximately 72% and has the highest school enrollment in Pakistan.
Azad Kashmir expresses solidarity with people of Jammu Kashmir
Today, Kashmiris in India occupied Jammu Kashmir are protesting Indian occupational techniques against the Kashmiri Muslims. Indian forces target them and many Kashmiri Muslims have fallen victim to Indian terror tacks.
People of Azad Kashmir now are protesting against Indian brutality in Kashmir valley and ill-treatment of Kashmiri Muslims by occupation forces. .
A large number of people including refugees from Indian-held Kashmir came out on the streets in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir, to stage a rally against Indian violence on people across the Line of Control (LoC), just weeks after the extra-judicial killing of Burhan Wani, a pro-freedom insurgent leader in the occupied zone.
Earlier, when Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was smack in the middle of general elections, the leaders of most religious and political parties had marched in front of United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to protest the ongoing wave of state-ordered violence in the occupied zone.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) AJK chapter leaders and workers have been urging members of civil society and refugees settled in AJK to continue staging street protests.
Pakistani concern over unrest in Kashmir
Kashmir valley has become restless for quite some time now. People of Kashmir are facing serious problem of witnessing Indian force crimes in their neighborhoods. Kashmiris look a upon their freedom fighting leaders but India, in order to continue to kill them, calls them terrorists.
Now Kashmiris are increasingly willing to call themselves the “terrorists” as their husbands, children and other relatives are getting into India military traps and get killed or just disappear without clues.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently expressed concern over the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir during a high-level meeting here called to discuss regional security. In the meeting, Sharif and Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif, were briefed on the situation in Kashmir and Afghanistan. PM Sharif said the “brutal use of force is a blatant Indian violation of fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people which no civilized society permits”. Sharif maintained that the Indian attempts to claim the situation in Kashmir an internal matter were “factually incorrect, legally untenable and a violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions”.
The meeting resolved to approach the UN Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to Kashmir to “investigate the slaughter of innocent civilians and impose a ban on the use of pellet guns for dispersing people”. It called upon the international community to condemn human rights violations by Indian security forces.The meeting condemned “the oppression of the Indian security forces over innocent Kashmiris” protesting against the violence in the region, a Prime Minister’s House statement said.
The only solution to the Kashmir issue was “early implementation of UNSC resolutions — a fair and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices”, Sharif said. The statement said Pakistan “will continue to provide diplomatic, political and moral support” to the people of Kashmir for the realization of their fundamental right to self-determination. The meeting comes a day after India slammed Pakistan over its “deplorable meddling” in the internal affairs of the country and asked it to “vacate its illegal occupation of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir”. Pakistan observed “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan Day” on July 19, followed by “Black Day” on July 20 over the killing of Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani.
India in a statement strongly condemned the “encouragement and support” which “terrorists and their activities receive from Pakistan’s state”.
At least 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured in Jammu and Kashmir following the July 8 killing of Wani in a gunfight with the security forces.
Indian terror techniques
Fake encounters to target Kashmiri youth, repeated curfews to silence the Kashmiris and to cripple Kashmir economy so that the JK government would run to New Delhi for financial assistance on Indian terms to arrest as many Kashmiri Muslims as it can to somehow reduce the Kashmiri anger, have not eventually worked in India’s favor as Kashmiris continue to fight for sovereignty.
Come what may, India, now supported by USA, does not want to surrender sovereignty back to Kashmiris and in order to silence them in their struggle for sovereignty, India keeps killing them through enacted fake encounters. For India, Kashmiris are terrorists just like Palestinians are terrorists for Israel, while entire Muslim community is a terrorist gang for US led NATO rogue states, terrorizing energy rich Arab nations.
It appears, like India, Pakistan also enjoys its double-speak, mixing half truth with full lie regarding the status of Kashmir now and in future. While Pakistan is an ally of US led NATO terror gang, now controlling Islamabad, India has been trying its best to make an unwilling USA its strategic partner. Now both these nuclear powers causing perpetual tension in South Asia are being remote controlled by Washington.
New Delhi is too happy that USA has moved away from Islamabad and is not working for Indian causes everywhere, as it thus has been promoting the anti-Islamic Zionist criminal regime. On the contrary, Pakistan is worried that it is fast losing service charges from USA and EU.
However, despite their differences and regular military cross firings, meant essentially to terrorize Kashmiris, India and Pakistan have a common agenda – to retain the nuke arms in their respective possessions at any cost. This now explains why they don’t want to resolve the Kashmir issue and grant sovereignty to Kashmiris.
Pakistani PM Sharif said he is dreaming to Kashmir inside Pakistan but he fails to recognize the Pakistanis destabilized and not stable at all and it might even disintegrate as per the CIA plan. India has warned Islamabad to stop day dreaming about Kashmir joining Pakistan now or any time in future. Kashmiris cannot decide to commit a mass suicide by joining a corrupt and weak Pakistan which would not hesitate to sell them to China or America for favors, including financial and military help. Pakistan ahs “gifted” a part of occupied Azad Kashmir to China for economic and military help.
Pakistani mischief on soverign Kashmir?
The general impression gained by the public that Pakistan is fighting for the cause of Kashmiris for a soverign Kashmir apparently looks false. Pakistan has been fighting for Kashmir and not for Kashmiris as it is eager to incorporate into Pakistan both Azad Kashmir which’s under Pakistani control and Jammu Kashmir which is under Indian occupation. But Kashmir I sunder Indian occupation and it refuses to surrender Kashmiris its sovereignty ostensibly to deny India to quickly occupy it and add to its own territory.
Pakistan already has a part of Kashmir in its territory and also administers Azad Kashmir, annexed from Kashmir in a war with India. Pakistan is fighting now for India controlled Kashmir to be eventually made a part of Pakistan and for this purposes, India claims, Pakistan has been misusing Kashmiri Muslims.
It appears, Pakistan has not yet incorporated Azad Kashmir into itself because it wanted to let India think that Pakistan is sincere about a soverign Kashmir and it would add Jammu Kashmir once India releases Kashmir.
Pakistani leaders until recently never openly said it wants to make Kashmir a part of Pakistani territory once India leaves it, but it always, tactfully, maintained that the India should “solve” it without specifying what it meant by ‘solution”. .
Pakistan is trying to make the Kashmir issue more complicated with new ideas. For the first time in recent times, Pakistan has openly reiterated its resolve to annex Kashmir into Pakistani territory. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he would like to see Kashmir a part of Pakistan. “We are waiting for the day when Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan,” PM Sharif said. Sharif was addressing a public gathering on the occasion of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s win in the “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” assembly election last week.
In his first public address following an open heart surgery earlier this year, Sharif urged Kashmiris “not to forget those in India held Kashmir who are sacrificing their lives for freedom”. The PML-N is set to form the next government in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, whose official name is “Azad Jammu and Kashmir”.
New Delhi was quick to respond to Pakistan’s statement. India always maintains its stand that Kashmir is an “integral” part of Kashmir. New Delhi had accused Islamabad of arming and training militants fighting to secede Jammu and Kashmir from India. Pakistan said it only provides moral and diplomatic backing to the separatist campaign. In a strong attack on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his statements on Kashmir, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told him that his dream of the state becoming a part of his country “will not be realized even at the end of eternity”. Taking umbrage at Sharif’s statement that “Kashmir will one day become Pakistan”, she said in a statement that this “delusional though dangerous dream” was the reason for Pakistan’s “unabashed embrace and encouragement to terrorism”. “The whole of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India. You will never be able to make this heaven on earth a terror hell,” she said. India’s reaction came amidst provocative statements issued on near-daily basis by Pakistan government and Sharif.
Noting that in the last few days, leadership of Pakistan, including its Prime Minister has praised Burhan Wani, a popular but wanted by India terrorist Commander of the banned terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, as “martyr”, Swaraj wondered did he not know that he was carrying an award of Rs 10 Lakh on his head because he had perpetrated heinous crimes including murder of elected representatives of local bodies and security personnel. “Even more condemnable than these deplorable attempts from across the border to incite violence and glorify terrorists is the fact that these attempts have been undertaken by Pakistan’s state machinery.
Now India does not need terror evidence
India, like USA, always sought “evidence” from Pakistan. Asserting that there is no need for evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in the Kashmir issue as Nawaz Sharif is openly saying they will get Kashmir back. India says Pakistan is directly or indirectly claiming credit for aiding and abetting the ongoing insurgency and unrest. So, there is no need for any evidence now.
Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Singh was reacting to Sharif’s remark that the day was not far when the struggle of the Kashmiris will meet with success and Jammu and Kashmir will be part of Pakistan. Singh said, “The United Nations too has said that it Kashmir is India’s internal matter. Now, the world has come to acknowledge India’s point of view on Kashmir and it is time for us to be united in the fight against Pakistan.” He asserted that Pakistan’s involvement in promoting terrorism in India has been evident on more than one occasion. The Union minister urged all the political parties to unite in the fight against Pak-sponsored terrorism.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Omar said today’s unrest cannot be compared with 2008 or 2010 agitations. “In 2008, we had a land row and in 2010, the outbreak was because of a fake encounter done by army. But in 2016 there is no such demand. It is just plain anger. “Even the young boys of the age of 8-10 years have no fear and that is worst,” he said.
The Modi government is not serious about genocides and political (freedom) crisis in Kashmir. Will a grand initiative by the Prime Minister normalize the situation in the Valley? Omar Abdullah said any initiative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may take to resolve the current crisis in the Valley could calm tempers but if it is not followed up then it becomes difficult to sort out. He agreed with former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s views that the Centre had broken promises on issues that formed the state’s accession to India, saying they have been “dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. “It will help. It will definitely calm tempers but there will be far more suspicion today than a few years ago. Because if it is not followed through, every time a problem like this arises, then it becomes more difficult to bring an end to it,” he told on a TV channel interview on Saturday.
For want of better set of words, India has actually been dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir because you struck a deal. Former Finance Minister Chidambaram said that New Delhi had ignored the grand bargain under which Kashmir acceded to India. Omar endorsed his statement. You struck a bargain. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on the basis of certain conditions which is that the Union of India will be responsible for currency, communication, defence and foreign affairs everything else will be the domain of the state. On the basis of those conditions Jammu Kashmir would remain a part of India.
But Jammu and Kashmir to this date remains a part of India, how much of those conditions have Indian rulers actually fulfilled? You have gradually whittled that away to the point that autonomy is a a fig leaf to what it was in 1947. So he is not wrong,” Omar said. However, he regretted that immediately after Chidambaram remarks, Congress came out with a statement that it were the personal views of former Finance/Home Minister. “Here is a person who is talking out of box and is ready to take the first knock and we pull him down,” he said.
Omar said Pakistan has always been fishing in troubled waters. “It is nothing new. If you are saying Pakistan is responsible, then I am am sorry. We are doing the same mistake.” He said people are are ready to set aside old memories provided “we are ready to sit and solve the problem”.
On controversial AFSPA in Kashmir, Omar said, “I don’t know how the army has become a villain. Army has always maintained that they don’t want to stay permanently and want to go back to barracks. But they don’t decide the such matters. They deadly oppose withdrawal of Draconian law and also any reduction. So this is a contradictory stand.” He said more than a political will, it takes courage to take bold steps which was lacking in the previous UPA government. “May be UPA at that time was facing several problems. May be they did not want to open another front,” he said. Congress has been insensitive to the popular demands in Kashmir.
About the statement made by Chidambaram that the Union Cabinet was divided on withdrawal of AFSPA, he said, “I know that the then Defence Minister (Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony) were opposed to it and the then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) had not firmed up his mind.
There was strong opposition from the army but political courage could have overtaken that opposition,” he said and added that between him and Chidambaram, they were successful in removing 35 to 40 bunkers from the city. “I am not saying that army’s concerns should not be addressed but at the same time elected representatives in a democracy must have courage to carry forward its decisions with conviction,” he said. He expressed apprehensions that the way the Centre has been dealing with the situation in past had lived its life. “The Centre swings into action only when there is a fire in Kashmir. At that point they promise everything but when the situation is normal, they forget everything.” “By announcing a package of Rs 80,000 crore, centre should not think that it can buy out anti-India sentiments. PM Modi while addressing a rally said he knew everything about Kashmir problem. If you know everything then everything is over. Nothing to be discussed and the problem should be at his door rather than anyone else’s,” the former Chief Minister said.
Newly Independent India claimed it somehow managed an Act of Accession with the rulers of Jammu Kashmir. On 26 October, 1947, VP Menon, who had just returned from Srinagar, poured out a stiff drink, smiled and exulted: “We have Kashmir. And now that we have got it, we will never let it go.” This incident should be enough to remind Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the futility of his dream of seeing Kashmir become part of Pakistan some day.
Menon, who helped Sardar Patel put hundreds of princely states in India’s basket, had prophesied on that fateful October day that India will never let Kashmir go. Six decades of futile Pakistani efforts, including three wars, suggest Sharif’s dream is not genuine.
Sharif has a long list of people to blame for his unrequited love for the Vale. He can, for instance, blame Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who decided to send tribals from the frontiers to invade Kashmir after the Maharaja supposedly denied his request for a vacation in the Valley.
Did India betray Pakistan on Kashmir?
The stance Patel had reportedly taken on the disputes that rose from the decision of Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad to not accede to either of the two countries even after 15 August. Several scholars have suggested that Patel was willing to consider Pakistan’s claim if it gave up Junagarh and Hyderabad.
Our reply was that we would agree to Kashmir if they agreed to Hyderabad.” But, the moment Jinnah decided to send tribals under the leadership of Major Khurshid Anwar to invade Kashmir, and then dispatched his soldiers guised as Pathans to fight the Indian army, Pakistan lost the argument and the Valley. As Patel used to say, possession is 90 per cent of the law.
Pakistan failed to get anything out of the 1965 war it fought with India. In 1972, it signed the Simla accord and agreed to a status-quo and bilateral resolution of the dispute. Since then, nothing has changed that entitles Sharif to a walk through Srinagar’s Nishat Bagh or drink from the founts of Chashm-e-Shahi.
While India can further destabilize and divide Pakistan with US help, Pakistan doesn’t have the military might to split India. Its proxy war lacks the firepower to melt India’s resolve. And there is no way India will surrender its rights over Kashmir, especially in a global scenario dominated by huge security concerns, anti-imperialist Islamic terror and China’s rising ambitions of China in the region.
India does not want a third Muslim country Kashmir in the region. New Delhi says allowing a Muslim-majority territory on the northern border to become a hotbed of Chinese, Pakistani, Afghan and Islamic State interference would be a political disaster. India cites the fate of Bangladesh and Pakistan, both it treats as “home to terror”, has forever ruled out the possibility of another Islamic country in the region.
Though pro-Pakistan sloganeering and flag-waving is common in Kashmir as a useful tactics to express I their anger over Indian occupational crimes, it is doubtful if Kashmiris actually want to become part of Pakistan, especially in its current avatar. In 2014, not even 50% of Kashmiris in the Kashmir Valley wanted to join Pakistan or support the idea of union with Pakistan: off the record 25% .
However, those Kashmiris expressing desire to be a part of India is much below that of those who support Pakistan- less than 10%. .
Though armchair hardliners in India never seek peace with Pakistan and Kashmir, and jihadis, they forget that for several years after Independence, while Kashmir remained calm and quiet’, the desire for azaadi (freedom) simmered below the surface. Even the first decade of this millennium was comparatively quiet and calm, suggesting a return to normalcy. But Kashmiris oppose subjugation and brutality by Indian forces.
In 1947, when Jinnah dispatched his tribals to Srinagar, he assumed their presence would trigger a revolt within Kashmir. Muslims of the Valley, he erroneously believed, would support the Pakistani invasion and drive out the Indian army.
India’s challenge now is to ensure that its own follies in Kashmir do not alienate Kashmiris enough to inspire someone in Pakistan to embark on another misadventure. Only rank stupidity, rigidity, continued oppression, suppression of rights and over-reliance on guns by the Indian state has the potential to fulfill Sharif’s dream.
True, USA has not openly declared its opposition to Kashmir issue or support for genocides in Kashmir, though it does not support Kashmir either.
Russia today is less enthusiastic about Indian occupation of Kashmir but USA is trying to shield Indian military crèmes inside Kashmir.
India would not find it profitable and correct to let the Kashmiri territory to obtain sovereignty as Pakistan would any time soon annex it under some garb and make it an integral part of Pakistan. US/Pakistani military can just finish them off.
New Delhi has realized by keeping puppet government in Sri Nagar/Jammu, it cannot stop freedom struggle of Kashmiris.
In fact, many Indians also now believe that Indian government has almost lost Kashmir but now it has to ensure that it does not go to Pakistan and makes its own home as a soverign Kashmir.
It is true Kashmiris dream of azaadi, a future that was promised to them by Dogra ruler Hari Singh before Jinnah forced his hand. But their loyalty towards Pakistan is grossly exaggerated, more propaganda than reality.
For all practical purposes, a workable solution to the Kashmir problem will have to be worked out first between the people of Kashmir, including the freedom groups, and the Indian government. Than India and Pakistan, along with Azad Kashmir leaders should agree for a unified Kashmir to emerge as a soverign nation. . Pakistan would, of course, never agree to anything that shatters its dream of possessing Kashmir, and that would ensure longevity of the dispute. PM Sharif has a right ot dream abut he should be realistic and understand the sufferings of Kashmiris.
Obviously, as India’s arrogant posture is unhealthy and irresponsible, Pakistan’s unrealistic dream is destined to remain unfulfilled, and thus remain a source of trouble. India can never win over Kashmiris through brutality, genocides, or through dialogue and peace-money initiatives.
Both India and Pakistan stop boss over Kashmir.
One can understand Pakistani dream if it has been truly Islamic (It attacked Lal Mosque in Islamabad, killing Imams there in a cold blooded manner) or a strong Muslims nations- but s destabilized puppet nation serving the cause of anti-Islamic nations like USA, UK, Israel etc.
Pakistan would not hesitate to sell Kashmiris to any nation to be anti-Islamic agents. And there would be none in the world to save the Kashmiris. .Already Pakistan seems to have “sold” a part of Azad Kashmir to China for r economic and military favors.
Independence of Kashmir is the only reliable and credible solution.
When United Nations too says that Indian brutality in Kashmir is India’s internal matter, the big powers have no interest in resolving the Kashmir flashpoint.
Critical India: The Real Story
In recent months, there has been an unprecedented barrage of criticism, innuendos and verbal onslaught on the Modi-led Indian government. The important thing to be noted is that almost the whole of criticism has come from media, academicians, intellectuals and activists, based in India. Among some of the foreign-origin criticism again, the perceptible point is that even there, most of them have had come from Indian based abroad.
Now the obvious point that emerges out of it is what’s the big deal. Aren’t we a democracy, supposedly the largest democracy in the world till the advent of Modi at the national stage changed all that, at least that is what some Indians believe. And a democracy is supposed to have a fair share of criticism of its executive, of its wrongdoings, failures and et all. So what if Modi leadership is being criticised, chided and lambasted by many why should one question it.
Let’s get back to the facts. When Modi took the reins of government in New Delhi, the economy was comfortably placed averaging a GDP growth rate of 6.7% during the 2009-2014 period. For 2013-14, other important economic indicators retail inflation 10.53 based on CPI, Tax to GDP ratio at 7.2% and gross fixed capital formation rate to GDP at 29 with unemployment at a stable 2.2%, showed the economy in a reasonable positive light.
Currently, the Indian economy is passing through one of its worst phases. After averaging an annual GDP growth of 7.5% for 2014-19, the last two quarters have shown the GDP growing at a measly 3.1% and 4.5% with the overall economy getting contracted by almost 20% and on a YTY basis it might contract by about 8-9%. Unemployment at 6.1% is the highest in the last three decades while exports too, have not made much headway. Made in India initiative has failed to do well while Atmanirbhar Bharat has many sceptics, within and outside India.
The government is under fire on one more ground that Bangladesh reportedly has gone ahead of India on the per capita income score. TV channels have hours of unending debates on how this government has brought India to its knees and it is due to the incompetence, ideological prism, fascist and authoritarian, communally divisive attributes of Modi that the country has come to such a pass.
There have been curious cases of few leading opposition politicians, former diplomats, bureaucrats and a couple of ex-military officers, taking a vitriolic, not critical, anti-government attitude, describing the government’s so-called communal, fascist, RSS-led divisive policies that have created troubles with countries like China, Pakistan and Nepal. Interestingly, these are the very words that are frequently used by Imran Khan, the Pakistani PM in his personalised attacks on Modi. Many of the self-proclaimed analysts who write in a very detailed way on Indian affairs are found sitting comfortably in some obscure corners of the USA, Canada or Europe without being to India for quite some time.
One prominent Indian security analyst, talks about India being a no match for China and that in case of a war, within hours, China could decimate Indian forward air bases and cripple country’s cyber, communication and security systems. He also has questioned and castigated government’s go-ahead with the US on BECA and COMCASA on the grounds that the country’s security threats may emanate from the US and not China. A former diplomat with purported leftist leanings has frequently talked about India standing no chance against a superpower China, economically, politically and militarily.
One important point of oft-used argument is that Modi government is responsible for Indian-Chinese troubles and that this government is being backed by corporates to woo the US and act as its lackey. The abrogation of Article 370 by the government is given a primary reason for the anger of China and if that had not been done, China would have continued with its all is well attitude vis-à-vis India. So by daring to do so, India has angered a superpower and hence the Chinese muscle-flexing.
Now let’s try to analyse facts straightaway. Economy undoubtedly, India is in a precarious situation and the GDP contraction is a very serious one. However, seen objectively in the light of economic disruptions caused by demonetisation and the introduction of GST and that too, followed by the Corona pandemic, it shows that the situation is difficult but not lost. The tax base has widened significantly. Infrastructure has done extremely well as against any previous times in Indian history. Power, Roads, Railways, Airways, Ports all have done remarkably well while telecom has lagged behind. Manufacturing is lately picking up while exports too, aren’t doing badly now. India’s foreign exchange reserves at US$575 Billion is at an all-time high and is currently ranked fifth in the world. Retail inflation in the light of CPI is stable whereas unemployment has acquired critical dimensions and require remedies, urgently. And before Bangladesh, this country had been lagging behind Sri Lanka too on per capita income for decades but why that was not previously discussed by experts, requires no guess.
On social issues, criminal acts against minorities, especially against Muslims for which the Modi government has received the maximum flak, have to be seen in the context of broader socio-economic landscape of the land. There have been similar crimes against people from Hindus too and most of them have taken place due to their poor economic status. Nowhere, minorities from economically higher strata have been victimised. And records of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Women (NCW), National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) clearly illustrates that poor economic background has been the overbearing factor responsible for various crimes against most of the fellow Indians.
It also needs to be noted that most of such incidents have taken place against people not because of their caste, religion or the so-called BJP-promoted Brahminical and Hindutva domination but due to social and political factors. A good number of top BJP leaders belong to lower and OBC castes. So that should be also considered while claiming that the ruling party has a typical anti lower caste mentality
Crimes against women are reported in the media and discussed by intellectuals, academicians and politicians based on their caste and not by talking about gender bias and in terms of political gains. Hence, we have seen a crime at Hathras (UP) taking the country by storm while similar other incidents in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Punjab (all Congress-ruled states) being merely reported or even not being talked about.
Taking about the Modi government destroying institutions in the country, there have been instances when judges passing specific judgements and criticism against the government or its leaders, the judiciary becomes the last institutional survivor in the country. When same judges pass government favourable judgments becoming unpalatable then that becomes an attack on judiciary.
Media too when it keeps highlighting governmental failures at the national level then it is fine. However, when opposition-ruled states in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh or other places stifle media on free reporting, journalists get detained, their mobiles snatched, false FIRs done there is an eerie silence from the whole of opposition politicians, academicians, intellectuals, champions of freedom of expression, both in India and abroad. How could one comprehend this class of freedom of expression, except double standards.
On Kashmir issue that has been hugely debated and discussed on, nationally and internationally, Article 370 if many believe that was part of Indian Constitution applicable to it, that itself explains the government’s right to amend (it has been done many times by previous Congress governments) and abrogate it. The comprehensive political integration has removed the ambiguous stand India has continued on Kashmir since 1948. As for security implications, the situation in the last one year has been much better and peaceful and better developmental activities, lesser inefficiency, administrative apathy and corruption is visible on the ground.
As for China’s perceived anger, the stand of the current government on rapid building of huge infrastructure in the border region, beneficial for both developmental and strategic reasons, needs to viewed in the context of all previous governments, embedded in the typical Nehruvian mind-set which believed in keeping China happy and not building border roads that will prevent Chinese PLA to reach Indian mainland quickly. Unfortunately, this stand was even taken by one of the recent defence ministers, a very senior Congress leader. So much for the protectors of Indian sovereignty.
Finally, the so-called supremacy of Chinese military. If indeed, it had been so they would not have put their prestige at stake by reaching for a stalemate and eight rounds of unending military and diplomatic confabulations with India, a la Doklam. The desperation and confusion with the Chinese establishment is all the more evident in its repeated requests for Indian quid pro quo for vacating positions in southern banks of Pangong Tso for leaving its positions in Indian areas in Ladakh.
It is true that there is an unlimited social media platform used maliciously by many in India for disseminating all their partisan views. In media too, pro and anti-government views get prominently displayed, in print and electronic and objectivity is in free fall and available at a steep discount. The Indian government has erred in remaining quite on a number of issues, affecting social and religious harmony thus giving an impression of its complicity. Further, there are a number of big mouths in the ruling party, from national to village level who keep on ranting irresponsible statements, providing legitimacy to many criminal acts being done by political or anti-social elements and affecting the credibility of national government in the process. An objective analysis of the government, including a responsible and constructive criticism, based on facts and figures, should be the order of the day. That will go a long way in alleviating irresponsible, biased reporting and improve governmental efficiency and social- economic cohesion in India and the region.
Status of Minorities in Pakistan
In February this year, Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, posted a tweet condemning the Delhi riots and stated that anyone who targets the non-Muslim minorities in the country or their places of worship will be dealt with strictly. For all the resolute comments that Mr Khan has made for protection of minorities in Pakistan, the reality showcases a completely different scenario. The status of religious freedom is almost minimal, minorities have been unjustly prosecuted under the blasphemy laws and there have been targeted attacks on the non-Muslim citizens and defenders of human rights. This article aims to assess the condition of Minorities in the country and the unjust use of blasphemy laws as a tool of oppression.
Forced Conversions: A chronic problem
On October this year, Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Christian girl, was abducted right outside her house in Karachi. She was forcibly converted to Islam and married off to her abductor, a 44- year-old man. The police denied these claims and asserted that it had sufficient proof to prove that the girl converted and married off on her own volition. To make matters worse, the Sindh high court validated the marriage (even though the legal age is 18), and stated (based upon falsified documents) that Arzoo was old enough to make her own decisions. This case isn’t a one off and there have been multiple instances in the past where underage girls from minority religions have been abducted and forcefully married off after conversion. A few months ago, a Hindu teenage girl, Simran Kumari was abducted from Ghotki in Sindh and converted to Islam. She was also married off to her abductor and her parents were stopped from visiting because of them being ‘Kafirs’ . Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, and Ghotki are some of the districts that have had the highest number of such incidents and all of them come under the province of Sindh. These incidents are more than just ordinary cases of forced conversion, they are a reflection of deeper issues rooted in economic, social and cultural status of the minority communities.
Most of the minority communities have been traditionally engaged in jobs associated with low income such as daily wage labour and any scope of upward economic mobility is limited. Amar Guriro, a senior journalist states that many Hindu and Christian women convert due to their poor financial condition, and that Muslim men easily lure these women on the pretext of providing better financial and living conditions . But investigations in the past have revealed that economic hardship might be a factor in these incidents but it isn’t the only factor, and in most cases, the women yield to their abductors due to fear of their lives. There have been cases where after a woman is abducted from a village, large groups of Muslim men drive around the village with loudspeakers in their cars shouting “the victory of Islam”. The main reason behind this is to instil a psychological fear and ensure that the minority communities do not take legal recourse. It’s unfortunate that even if the victim’s family were to lodge a First Information Report, it would make no difference. The police, political representatives and the judiciary are usually in cahoots, and any form of protest would be at the cost of endangering their own lives. This is clearly seen in majority of the cases where the victim is usually below 18 years of age, even though as per a recent amendment to the penal code, the legal age of marriage for girls is 18 years. The police play a huge part in providing forged documents as proof to the judges who readily accept it without questioning the legitimacy and let the accused go scot free.
The blasphemy laws in Pakistan pose another set of problems for the minorities, and are one of the strictest in the Islamic world. They were inherited from the former colonial rulers back when Pakistan was a part of India and a British colony. During the reign of the military government headed by General Zia-ul-Haq, few other clauses were added to these laws which criminalised certain acts such as insulting Islam’s Prophet, speaking against the holy Quran or using derogatory language against important religious scholars. According to the data given by National Commission for Justice and Peace, there were a total of 1540 blasphemy cases which came up till 2018 and out of those 1540 cases about 50% cases had a non Muslim as the accused even when they constituted very small share of the total population . The Ahmadiyya’s, a Muslim minority, are the worst affected by these laws. The Ahmadiyya community is a sect of Islam which has its roots in India and was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Unfortunately, the Ahmadiyya community faces a lot discrimination world over and is generally regarded as non-Muslim in most of the Islamic countries. According to the second amendment in Pakistan’s constitution, the Ahmadis are considered as non-Muslims in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Ahmadis have had repeated allegations of blasphemy against them due to the fact that their religious beliefs contradict the verses in the Quran and are therefore equal to speaking against it. This is completely ironical to the fact that Pakistan’s constitution clearly states that each and every single religious community has the right to profess, propagate and practise their religion. For the other minority religions, the blasphemy laws act as a means of seeking revenge or showing dominance for the majority Sunni Muslims. In May 2019, Ramesh Kumar Malhi, a Hindu veterinary doctor, was accused of wrapping medicines in the pages containing verses of Quran because of which his clinic and a few other shops belonging to the Hindu community were burned down . Similarly, in 2018, a 25-year-old Christian man was accused of sending blasphemous texts because of which Muslim mobs raided the houses of Christians living in the area and threatened to set their houses on fire. In both the incidents, the police filed no cases against the offending mobs. In most of the cases, it is important to note that the reason for charging someone with blasphemy is usually due some other personal conflict entirely unrelated to the charge of blasphemy and is usually used as a means to extract revenge.
These blasphemy laws represent the sorry state of freedom of speech in the country. The idea that anything with regards to religion is sacred and cannot be contested leads to the formation of dogmatic opinions. While it is understandable that the blasphemy laws only apply to statements meant to defame a religion, but since these laws come under the purview of the Federal Shariat Court to determine what is Islamic or un-Islamic, even well-intentioned constructive criticism is considered blasphemous. John Stuart Mill, one of the most influential thinkers of classical liberalism, in his book ‘On Liberty’ talks about the role of freedom of speech and expression. He says “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”. The reasoning behind this is to show how important it is to allow divergent views to be spoken about clearly, and even if there is disagreement about the truthfulness of a particular view or opinion, there’s always a possibility that it might contain a certain element of truth. The inability of a country to tolerate divergent views is representative of its insecurity towards criticism and change. This eventually leads to its downfall as even the most common and rational arguments are sometimes suppressed.
Subpar Standard of Living
While the cases above represent some of the worst atrocities against minorities in Pakistan, their everyday lives don’t provide a very bright picture either. There has been discrimination in the past with regards to employment, such that sanitation work or daily wage labour work was restricted to non-Muslims only. Even with regards to education, there have been reports where the students from the minority religions have faced religious slurs or have been plainly discriminated by the teachers. Some of the textbooks portray the minorities in a negative light and completely negate their existence when recounting the history of the country, this reinforces an anti-minority mindset within the young adults and prevents the minorities from enrolling in educational institutions which restricts their social and economic upward mobility. In general, at least in the rural areas, non-Muslims have faced violence and many have lost their lives too. There have been numerous cases where houses of Hindus and Christians have been burnt down, their men, women and children killed or forced to leave the village. Temples and Churches have been destroyed in many areas, such that only a handful remain. A survey by the Pakistan All Hindu Rights Movement showed that out of a total of 428 temples that were present in the country during independence only 20 remain today.
While the government of Pakistan refuses to do anything, human rights lawyers and non governmental organisations present a ray of hope. In the past, journalists, activists and human rights lawyers have actively taken up cases of forced conversion, religious violence and misgovernance. This has made justice an achievable reality, even if it is only for a handful of cases. But the downside to this is that by saving the lives of others, the activists and lawyers have put their own lives at risk. There have been many instances where activists and journalists have received threats and backlash from religious extremists, some have even lost their lives. On 5thJune a journalist who had been criticising the government and the military was abducted in Lahore and detained without any proper warrant . Similarly, a co founder of an NGO working for the rights of young women was randomly detained and put on an exit control list, restricting her ability to travel overseas.
Imran Khan’s inability to take firm action against the oppression of minorities in Pakistan is an indication of their worsening condition in the country. His ostrich approach makes him preach about the inexistent tolerance that Pakistan has for non-Muslims on various
International forums. It would be wise for him to first start taking constructive steps to improve the situation in his own country before concerning himself with the issues of his next-door neighbour. The tough balancing act that Mr Khan has tried to play between supporting a tolerant Pakistan and the Islamic clerics at the same time has clearly failed. Zahid Hussain, an analyst and author states that Imran Khan, right from the time that he came to power, did want a tolerant Pakistan, but not at the cost of losing support of certain extremist elements. The problem is, instead of carefully balancing the two, he empowered the extremists, nullifying any bit of chance there was for improving the condition of minorities.
Theorizing The teesta River Water Dispute
Teesta River originates in the Himalayas and flows through the states of Sikkim and West Bengal to merge with Jamuna in Bangladesh (Brahmaputra in Assam). The river drains nearly 95 per cent of the state of Sikkim. It covers 3,225 square kilometres across the districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal before entering into Bangladesh. It is the fourth longest transboundary river of Bangladesh that flows down from India.
In Bangladesh, Teesta River covers 9,667 square kilometres with an estimated population of 9.15 million as in 2011.1 According to the estimates provided by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics 2012, 21 million people are directly or indirectly dependent upon the river water for their livelihoods in Bangladesh. It covers nearly 14 per cent out of the total area under cultivation in Bangladesh.
This river has been a point of contention between India and Bangladesh since 1950s and 1960s when India and former East Pakistan began discussing proposed projects on the river. Immediately after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission was set up to carry forward the talks over the sharing of river waters in 1972.
The Teesta barrage, hydropower projects and dam constructions over Teesta in India has led to a disturbance in the flow of river water downstream, i.e., in Bangladesh. Though the hydropower projects and dam constructions are also being carried by the Bangladesh government on its side of the river.
Bangladesh, that gets lesser share than that of India of the Teesta River water, claims for an equitable share which is unacceptable to the state of West Bengal. Negotiations over the same have been going on since 1983. The matter is still over the table with an unresolved dispute.
A significant amount of Teesta’s water flows only during wet season i.e., between June and September, leaving scant flow during the dry season i.e., October to April/May which paves way to the issue of equitable sharing during lean season. The 50-50 allocation of the river water could have been agreed to but it was opposed by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee, who claims that it would be unfair to West Bengal since it would adversely impact the water-flow available in the state.
The stakeholders here are not just the Indian state and the Bangladesh government but since water is a state subject, the Indian state of West Bengal is a large party to the matter whereas Sikkim has highly been ignored (which is also a point of highlight for the critics).
Bangladesh claims that an equal water sharing is essential for them since their basin dependence is higher than that of India’s and also, that the downstream nature of Bangladesh makes them vulnerable since any construction by India affects the water flow available to them. Apart from the farmers getting adversely affected, the inadequate flow of water has also created siltation. Thus, these are reasons enough to get India’s attention towards this issue.
However, West Bengal’s concerns can also not be ignored which states that Teesta has dried up due to which an acute drinking water problem has been caused apart from another issue which states less availability of water for irrigation needs.
In 1983, an ad hoc arrangement was made between India and Bangladesh wherein both agreed to share 75 per cent of river water with India using 39 per cent and Bangladesh 36 per cent. The remaining 25 per cent was to be distributed after some further studies. In 1997, a Joint Committee of Experts was formed to examine the matter. It took until 2004 for a Joint Technical Group to be formed which drafted an interim agreement for the sharing of the river water during the lean season. However, in 2005, the JTG admitted its inability to come up with a solution.
In 2005 itself, the Joint River Commission stated that the river will not be able to meet the needs of both the countries during the lean seasons, hence, any agreement that is made will have to be based upon shared sacrifices. In 2010, the two countries agreed to resolve the matter expeditiously and drafted some principles for the sharing of river water during the lean season.
In 2011, the agreement was to be signed during the visit of the then Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, it fell through when the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee protested against the proposed allocation of 50 per cent of the river’s water to Bangladesh.
Since then there have been bilateral discussions on the dispute between the two countries but they have been unable to reach upon a mutually agreed agreement. Something that has been continued to be a major sore point within the bilateral relations of India and Bangladesh!
Teesta barrage, whose construction started in the late 1970s, is the largest irrigation project of the entire eastern region. It aims at utilizing the potential of Teesta River in hydropower generation, irrigation, navigation, and flood moderation. India, being the upper riparian country, controls the flow of the river water into Bangladesh from the Teesta barrage. Even Bangladesh has constructed a barrage downstream that provides water for agriculture and irrigation to the drought prone areas of northern Bangladesh.
Bangladesh argues that the construction of Teesta barrage has drastically reduced the availability of water downstream, especially, in the dry season. On the other hand, it’s not just Bangladesh that is facing such issues, India is facing such issues as well. A reduced availability of groundwater due to underground tunnelling has been witnessed which has impacted agricultural productions and livelihoods in the region. The drying up of natural springs and local water resources, the matter which also needs to be addressed, has resulted in growing scarcity of drinking water. An increasing number of landslides have also been witnessed in the mountainous regions of Sikkim.
Development of hydropower projects and the construction of dams are majorly held responsible for all such issues. It has been a growing concern in India and something that the environmentalists, scientist, social activists have all cautioned against. Changes in the river, which have largely been due to the dams being constructed on the Teesta are being witnessed, including frequent changes in the course of the river, delta formation, high rates of siltation, increased erosion, and siltation of agricultural land in the areas surrounded by the river.
Availability of water for irrigation is a key issue, particularly for West Bengal, as highlighted by local communities. It is estimated that the availability of water for irrigation be reduced due to the series of proposed dams since every hydropower project is estimated to absorb at least 5 per cent of the river’s running water.
Similar is the situation with Bangladesh as well where farmers are being forced to rely on tube wells to pump underground water which has resulted in increased cost of production and also, reduced areas under cultivation. In many areas, increased siltation of riverbed has caused widening of the river which has resulted in bank erosion and flooding.
The Perspective Of Institutional Economics
The dispute is still hanging somewhere unable to find itself a reasonable solution. It is not just about the point of contention regarding the sharing of water, that how much water should India consume or how much of it should Bangladesh take away from the river, but it is also about the environmental concerns and the way it is impacting the humans. Maybe, if India takes up the discussions regarding sharing of some of the benefits that it would gain from its hydropower projects, it could happen that the dispute might be solved, but that would not solve the environmental concerns altogether.
Environmental economics, a strand of economics, offers one such solution which talks about using a price signal in waiving off a particular dispute. But in order to do that, you need to own that particular resource which is not possible in the case of a river. The market, thus, cannot allocate the resource using a price signal since there are no specified property rights, therefore, none of the state can boast of ownership. The lack of property rights disables either of the state to be able to sell it or rather, in this matter, be able to negotiate a settlement using a ‘price’ signal on the basis of cost-benefit analysis. Similarly, one state cannot also exclude the other state from using the river water since it’s a common environmental resource for both the states.
This indicates towards the presence of externalities that happens when there are lack of property rights and people utilize their utility not considering what additional/negative utility others may get from it. In such a problem, institutional economics, another branch of economics, has some solution to offer. Elinor Ostrom, an American political economist talks about common pool resources that people have managed successfully for generations. She says that these resources should be managed in communities where people can collectively come and decide and set up some rules that should match the local conditions since different regions have different ecosystems.
Here, in the context of the Teesta River dispute, the major thing that is missing is the ‘people’ and their participation in forming a consensus over the usage of river water. The local communities are the major stakeholders of the river water and it is them who are being majorly effected but they have been kept away and everything has just boiled down to politics and the bilateral equations between the two states. This leads us to understand the issue from the lenses of political ecology.
Political Ecology And Its Links With The Dispute
Political ecology is that branch of geography that emerges from ‘critical geography’ and makes this basic point that physical environment in which we live in is not just natural but is characterized by a constant human intervention making it a ‘built’ environment. And since we live in such environment which is partly and very deeply influenced by human beings themselves, social and human processes should be right at the centre of our analysis.
Political ecology fundamentally connects questions of environment with questions of political processes and political power, something that is clearly visible in the dispute in discussion. It also draws insights from political economy, particularly, Marxian political economy to draw this connection between environmental issues, political power, and political and social processes.
David Harvey, one of the renowned scholars of political ecology, talks about the phenomenon of ‘Accumulation by Dispossession.’ This phenomenon talks about the existing social relations between the capitalist class and the farmers/working class. This talks about how the farmers are being left with no other option than to lose their lands and become a victim at the hands of the industrial development.
Here, in the context of Teesta River dispute, something similar is happening. On one hand, while the government and a section of civil society is happy with the expected benefits of the hydropower project like employment, energy sufficiency, new revenues, on the other hand, local communities, environmentalists, scientists, and activists are concerned about social, cultural, and environmental aspects of these projects. More such projects are proposed, more the economic and industrial development but only at the cost of environmental development and also, at the cost of the livelihoods of the local communities!
The politics of the two countries, their asymmetric relations, and their urge to economic and industrial development has costed the local communities their livelihoods. For the authorities concerned, it’s about their political ego, their incapability of meeting the local needs through the existing water share, but holistically, this matter is not just about that. Undoubtedly, it continues to be dominated by political procedures but what matters the most are the local communities who are suffering on both the sides of the borders. It is these people who are losing their livelihoods, lands, and the allied opportunities but have been kept away from the major procedure of decision making. The sufferers are none but the environment itself whose course is being decided by the humans and also, the humans – but only the ones that are dependent upon the same environment for their livelihood opportunities. Rest that remains is the politics!
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