Wars over territories have been fought since ages. Countries with the largest defence budget today and the early civilisations with the most advanced weapons eventually gaining a foothold over the world, justify the stance why countries need arms and ammunition. But does that mean that there could be no possible solutions apart from war? The answer is no. The possible solutions could be something similar to that of the reunification of a nation, as in the case of Germany in 1990. Time and again, people have talked about conducting a referendum in Kashmir but given the influence of separatists in the valley, it seems far-fetched.
Kashmir can be divided into three parts based on the possession by countries. Ladakh and Leh, where Buddhists are in majority and the Kashmir Valley, where Muslims are in majority, is held by India. A part of it is under the control of Pakistan and the Aksai Chin region is under China. With three nations having the share of Kashmir and equipped with nukes, silly politics or moves involving the armed forces can lead to serious repercussions. Whenever there are any ceasefire violations along LoC or cowardly attacks like in Pathankot or Uri, suddenly the so-called ‘nationalists’ and media personnel become defence specialists, suggesting what the government and the Indian army should do. This fervid approach doesn’t last long and calms down after the attack.
There’s a sense of ignorance between both nations. Pakistanis believe that since they have more nuclear warheads (110-130) compared to India (100-120), they could easily defeat India. Such was the desperation of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, that he said, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.” While Indians take pride in all the four military victories they had against Pakistan; 1947 (First Kashmir War), 1965 (another war for Kashmir), 1971 (when Bangladesh got liberated) and 1999 (Kargil War).
It’s easy to form an opinion of raging a war while sitting in the drawing room. We narrow down our thinking and believe that soldiers are supposed to fight wars. It’s absolutely wrong. They are supposed to protect us, not fight for us. Wars take place at the cost of their lives which can’t be put at the mercy of condolences or prayers.
Over the years, what I have felt is that people care about Kashmir, not Kashmiris. India has failed to garner the support of civilians in Kashmir. When your army is feared by the civilians, there must be something which has gone horribly wrong. Most of us see Kashmir as a destination to plan our honeymoon or take a bike ride to the beautiful landscapes of Ladakh. This is the only emotional sentiment we hold with Kashmir. The state comprises of people along with its natural landscape, and we have failed the people for whatsoever reasons.
There have allegedly been instances of human right abuse in Kashmir by the army. The alleged mass rapes in Kunan Poshpora could be one of the examples where the government’s inability in handling the issue by acquitting the alleged perpetrators hurriedly not only worsened the situation but also widened the gap between the locals and the government.
So, what could be the possible solution? I may not be the expert to comment on it, but after studying Kashmir and the political issues of the world in details, I feel the greed of possessing Kashmir should be let go of and it’s only possible if all the three countries, India, Pakistan and China work together in unifying all the territories with the support of the United Nations and declare it as an independent country. Involvement of United Nations is very much required in order to make sure that no country uses its military might to acquire Kashmir on its own. A treaty needs to be signed and any country involving their military in this should be isolated from the UN as well as economic forums. Today, no country can survive in isolation. All countries require support from the allies. Barring Jammu and some parts of Ladakh, local sentiments regarding the role of the Indian Army in Kashmir is either neutral or negative.
There have been success stories in the form of Shah Faesal, the topper in the IAS exam held in 2009, Pragaash, an all Kashmiri girls band and Mevish Mushtaq, the woman who developed the first android app for the Kashmiri people. But, such instances work as an escape route from the customary instead of serving any concrete solutions. With a literacy rate of just 65% according to this report in 2012 and lack of jobs, the youth of the state are pushed into taking up charge as stone-pelters. Given the volatile situation in the valley, creation of jobs would not only require a motivational speech but concrete corrective policy measures in the form of economic upliftment through special economic zones and harnessing of water energy. An area where Kashmir has immense potential.
According to a survey conducted by the London-based Chatham House in 2010, about 75-95% of the population in Kashmir Valley wants independence from both India and Pakistan. The survey not only shows startling figures but also manifests the irony of Kashmiris being part of the biggest democracy in the world where their rights are limited to choosing the political parties in power which could take away their bread for political gains. The above solutions may not have the nationalist or populist vote, but only this approach can curb the real menace in Kashmir, which is unemployment and not terrorism.