History tells when negotiations stall, war results. After the war, most warriors realize that it was avoidable. India and Pakistan could learn this bitter reality from Europe that had been at war or daggers drawn for so long.
India is impervious to its own resilient history. At the time of partition, India faced insurgency in many states (North-East, East Punjab, and Dravidian South, besides still on Naxalbari movement). India agreed to insurgents’ demands for creation of new states. Just recall number of Indian state at partition and now. India’s Governor General Mountbatten offered a plebiscite in Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagadh (November 1, 1947, at Government House, Lahore). Around that time, India’s ministry-of-states secretary, V.P. Menon, offered: `Kashmir to Pakistan; Hyderabad to India’. However, Pakistan, at its firebrand foreign minister Sir Zafarullah’s insistence, missed the offer. In later period, also, India’s foreign minister Swaran Singh, and Ayub Khan discussed some conciliatory proposals that died with Nehru’s death.
The historical lesson is that Pakistan lost Hyderabad and even Eastern wing because of its rigid policies. India stayed afloat because of flexibility. Zafarullah believed we could have Kashmir and remote control Junagadh and Hyderabad. Let India listen toits own foreign secretaries, if not to Pakistan or the world around.
Foreign Secretary and national-security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon:. He ruled out `a military solution’ as option to settle India-Pakistan disputes. Menon said so while participating in a panel discussion alongside Pulitzer Prize winning American author and academic Steve Coll and US journalist and author Peter Bergen. His remarks are an affront to civilian hawks and its army chief’s gung-ho statements.
Foreign secretary Jagat S. Mehta
Mehta understood India’s abhorrence to word ‘plebiscite’. So he presented some proposals to serve as requirements for evolving a solution after a period of ten years. His proposals are contained in his article “Resolving Kashmir in the International Context of the 1990s” Some points of his quasi-solution are: (a) Pacification of the valley until a political solution is reached. (b) Conversion of the LoC into “a soft border permitting free movement and facilitating free exchanges…” (c) Immediate demilitarization of the LoC to a depth of five to ten miles with agreed methods of verifying compliance. (d) Final settlement of the dispute between India and Pakistan can be suspended (kept in a “cold freeze”) for an agreed period. Voracious readers may refer for detail to Robert G Wirsing, India, Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute (1994, St Martin’s Press, New York pp. 225-228).
Foreign secretary JN Dixit
As quoted in Victoria Schofield’s book Kashmir in the Crossfire, he says ‘it is no use splitting legal hair. 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.’
Foreign secretary: Krishnan Srinivasan
In an article, he outlines ‘Lessons for Kashmir from the Kuriles’ (The Hindu dated January 7, 2019). Srinivasan points out ‘Russia has for long been Japan’s hypothetical enemy’. But, the two countries are no longer at daggers with regard to Kurile Islands dispute. Four islands in the Kurile chain are claimed by Japan but occupied by Russia as successor state of the Soviet Union. ‘Despite the passage of over 70 years, this dispute has defied solution and prevented the conclusion of a Russo-Japanese peace treaty to draw a final curtain over the detritus of the war’. The Russians have deployed submarines and missile systems in disputed islands to preclude American intervention.
Moscow erects its claim on the post-war settlements of Yalta and San Francisco. Japan bases its claim on Russia-Japan treaties of 1855 and 1875.
After Mr. Putin’s visit to Japan in 2016, both leaders embarked on some joint undertakings on the islands without delving into entrenched legal position. They agreed to joint field surveys, joint economic activities and three levels of supervision. The cooperation covers marine species and aquaculture, greenhouse strawberry and vegetable cultivation, tourism, wind power generation, the reduction and disposal of garbage.
The cooperation, despite US reservations, is amazing. Moscow fears: (a) Tokyo amending Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which disallows Japan from maintaining or using a military force to settle international disputes, (b) Japan is among the world’s biggest spenders on defence. It plays host to American bases and missile systems, and plans to spend $240 billion up to 2024 on cruise missiles, missile interceptors, fighter jets and aircraft carriers.
Both Japan and Russia are pursuing greater collaboration, despite US displeasure at Japan’s accommodating attitude towards Russia. Srinivasan observes ‘although no two international problems are analogous, there are important lessons to be drawn from the manner in which traditionally hostile neighbours can identify common interests and explore unorthodox avenues along which to proceed in search of innovative solutions to apparently insoluble disputes. This requires strong leadership and a bold imagination. Neither India nor Pakistan lacks either attribute’.
To stifle the Kashmiri’s fighting spirit, the dogra (1846-1947) punished even Kashmiri children who played with fork-slings (ghulail in Urdu) and stones (Muhammad Yousaf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, vol. 1, p. 50). Under the dogra rule, the Kashmiri were treated no better than beasts of burden. The reign of terror by Indian forces (now estimated at about eight lac regulars and security personnel) who replaced the maharajah’s constabulary on October 27, 1947 is no less gruesome (abductions, custodial deaths, rapes, and pellet shelling)
But, neither India, nor the dogra could gag the Kashmir’s fighting spirit. The struggle for freedom goes on. Even if India wins a nuclear war, the victory would be pyrrhic.
Will Pakistan be a silent spectator to India’s reign of terror in Kashmir? Does India want to escalate entente into a nuclear Armageddon? Roll-back to special status followed by talks is the only way out.