Some Comments on Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

by Nasir Khan, January 19, 2011

Editor’s Note: Gorki wrote a comprehensive comment on my article ‘Resolving the Kashmir Conflict (Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011 ) in which he offered his perspective and also raised some important questions. In reply, I have written the following remarks. For the sake of convenience, I have split his comment into a few parts followed by my reply:

Gorki:

Dr. Khan I find your article useful because it allows one to hear the views of the Kashmiris themselves regarding the Kashmir imbroglio.

On the face of it your statement “The best course left for India is to make a break with its previous policy, and accede to the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris. This will not weaken India; instead, it will show the strength of Indian democracy as well of the humane aspects of Indian cultural tradition…” sounds reasonable and taken in isolation such views even find many sympathetic listeners in India itself. However the Indians must keep other consideration in mind that cannot be considered imperialistic by any stretch of imagination.

Nasir:

Gorki , thank you for your balanced opinion on a number of points and the important questions you have raised in your comment. I will try to reply to some points.

My roots are in the Indian culture and I am deeply proud of our historical heritage. I am well aware of the Indian Civilisations stretching back to the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, some five thousand years old. Merely because of the hostile Indo-Pak relations since the partition of India in 1947, the Kashmir Issue has been the main cause of tension between the two states, I have regarded both India and Pakistan as parts of the same body, the body being the subcontinent of India that holds diverse races, cultures and mores showing much diversity while geographically belonging to the same entity. We can compare the subcontinent’s position with the broad geographical areas identified with Europe. In Europe there have been many languages, diverse cultures, political and religious conflicts for well over two thousand years. Despite all that various nations and people of this continent identity themselves with Europe and its civilisations, old and new. In a similar way, as an individual I identity myself with the subcontinent. My regional identity with Kashmir and the historical connection I have with with Kashmir is only natural; it is the affinity of part with the whole. As such they are mutually interdependent, not exclusive of each other.

Gorki:

The reality is that the entire former British India is organically connected and anything that happens in one part has an echo elsewhere in the sub continent. For example when a sacred relic went missing for 17 days from the Hazrat Bal mosque in 1963; there was rioting all over India. Thus any action in or regarding Kashmir cannot be taken in isolation.

While self determination and independence by themselves are honourable goals, anyone arguing for self determination only for the Kashmiris of the valley would either have to argue on the basis of some kind of Kashmiri exceptionalism or else should be willing to accept similar demands for self determination from others such as the Sikhs in the Indian Punjab and the Baluch in Pakistan. Conceding any such demands then would risks major man made disasters like the ethnic cleansing and huge population displacements that occurred in the wake of the partition in 1947.

Nasir:

Here your formulation about the organic connection has the Spencerian undertones! We have histories of India and Indian states before the British came. When the British gradually took over different parts of India by force of arms or by their political skills (and tricks), our people and many of our rulers evinced little concern to what happened to small or big states who were being devoured by the East India Company. Some of them had treacherously sided with the Farangis against those Indian rulers who resisted the British. This is also our history.

The instance of the disappearance of a holy relic in Kashmir you cite has more to do with religious feelings and identities than with the organic connection throughout the subcontinent. Such relics can also be seen as having extra-territorial dimension and impact.

In fact, we have seen major political conflicts and killing of innocent people by the Indian state (and also by Pakistani army in the Northwest Pakistan at the bidding of the United Sates as a continuing policy of crushing and eliminating those who resist and oppose the American wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan). The vast majority of these countries has not shown much resolve to oppose the policies of their governments. But, a religious relic or what believers may call a ‘religious place’ is something different! That moves our masses, and they do what they think is serving their deities!! We know how the religious passions of ordinary people inflamed by rightist forces in India in which the Indian rulers were implicated, led to the destruction of the Babri mosque by the Hindu mobs and the killing of thousands of innocent Indian Muslims in Gujarat.

But what sort of policies a state formulates and implements has a direct bearing on the political developments of a country. The same is true in the case of India; a wise political lead by responsible politicians influences and shapes the political landscape.

Now the question of ‘Kashmiri exceptionalism’ if India and Pakistan hold plebiscite to meet the demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir: I myself, do not regard the case of Jammu and Kashmir an exceptional one; but no doubt there is a historical context to it. The circumstances under which India extended its control over Jammu and Kashmir is much different from other princely states. At the end of the British rule in India and the partition of India by the imperial rulers, there were 562 princely states, big and small, over which the British held suzerainty or ‘paramountcy’ as in the case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We know how these princely states were incorporated into the two new states. How India extended its control over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is relevant to the whole question of the Kashmir Issue. After the military conflict and the ceasefire mediated by the United Nations, both India and Pakistan agreed to hold plebiscite that would enable the people of J&K to determine their future. That promise still remains unfilled and the consequences of that denial have been catastrophic for India, Pakistan and especially the people of J&K.

The Kashmir Conflict continues to be the unfinished task of the 1947 partition. This conflict has not disappeared; neither will it go away because the bullet has so far overridden the ballot and common sense.

Gorki:

Letting Kashmir valley join Pakistan OTOH would in essence be conceding the two nation theory; again not without risks. As you rightly pointed out, India remains a home to some 130 million Muslims. Letting the Muslims of the valley to go join Pakistan would in no way enhance the security of the non-Kashmiri Muslims elsewhere in India and if anything would make them even more insecure and strengthen the very forces of Hindutva that you pointed out threaten India’s fragile communal amity. (Ironically this is exactly what happened to the Indian Muslims of UP and Bihar who had allowed themselves to be emotionally led into voting for the AIML’s election plank of a Pakistan in 1946 which then left them high and dry).

Even within the state of Jammu and Kashmir itself, there would be major upheavals in case the current structure is tampered with. What would happen to the minority Muslims in Jammu and Ladakh?
Also if one argues that Kashmir is a homeland for the Kashmiris then what happens to other non Kashmiri populations of the valley such as the Gujjars etc.? Where would their homeland be?

Nasir:

Here you raise some important questions and also some legitimate concerns. First, the ‘two nation theory’. In fact, the partition of India was on the basis of  the two nation theory. For the sake of argument, I will say that if the people of J&K join A or B country, or decide for some other option they should have the democratic right to do so. The organic linkage you seem to emphasise in case the Valley joins Pakistan is worthy of consideration, but what Kashmiri Muslims want is their right to determine their future and to gain freedom. What that freedom entails is the freedom from Indian rule. This is their wish and to crush their aspirations the Indian state has used more than half-a-million soldiers. They have killed more than one-hundred-thousand people. It is military occupation of a country where India has committed horrific war crimes.

Who contributed to such a perspective that shaped the political history of India and led to the division of India by the British? Well, an easy way for amateurs is to have a bogeyman to explain away the historical facts and blame the Muslim leadership for all that! Even before Mr Gandhi came to India from South Africa, one of the most prominent Indian politician at that time was Mr Jinnah, who was commonly known as the ‘ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. He had the vision of a democratic, united India at the end of the British raj. But alas that was not to happen because this liberal, secularist lawyer was able to see the machinations of the Hindu leadership of the Indian National Congress and other Hindu militant organisations standing for the Ram raj and the Hindu domination of the whole sub-continent.

In my political work, at no time have I ever said what the people of J&K should stand for or how they should decide about their future. Neither have I ever advocated that the people of the Kashmir Valley should join Pakistan. That is something for the affected people to decide.

The Kashmiris’ demand and their struggle for Azaadi (freedom) is not directed against any other people, ethnic or religious minorities, who make up the population of their country. The people of J&K, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., have traditions of tolerance and inter-religious accommodation. In 1947, I was a six-year-old; I had seen how Hindus and Muslims had a shared and fraternal existence in our area. If the people of J&K are given a chance to live as free human beings and not under the terror of military power of India, then our age-old traditions of mutual respect and acceptance will reassert. That will be a good example for the Hindutva rightist forces that pose a great threat to the Indian democracy and religious minorities, Muslims being their major target.

I am also conscious of the dangers you rightly point to if the ‘current structure’ is changed. But I don’t suppose you offer your solution as the continued rejection of the demands of the Kashmiris because that safeguards some ‘ideal’ unity of India, knowing that India has carried out a militarist solution to crush the demands of the Kashmiri freedom movement. Simply put, it has been state terrorism by an occupying power. This short-sighted policy will fail in the long run as it has failed in the past.

Gorki:

You rightly mention that Kashmir is currently a big source of contention between India and Pakistan. However how certain can anybody be that this will not be the case if this issue is sorted out? Former Pakistani president, General Musharraf once said that India will remain Pakistan’s considered foe even if Kashmir issue is resolved. There are people with strong following in Pakistan who argue for waging a war on ‘Hindu India’ to conquer the Red Fort and restore the Mughal Empire. What of those?

Nasir:

If the main source of conflict between India and Pakistan is resolved according to the wishes of the people of J&K, then we expect the two neighbours will live amicably side by side and their bilateral relations and socio-cultural contacts will increase which will benefit all the people of the region. What Musharraf said is his view and it should not be taken too seriously. Apparently, the climate of hostility and mutual recriminations between India and Pakistan since the partition, people on the both sides have been fed on cheap propaganda. The nonsensical slogans to restore the Mughal Empire is the daydreaming of some Rip Van Winkles who are living in past, not in the twenty-first century.

Gorki:

I agree with you however that the current stifling atmosphere in Kashmir has to come to an end; human rights violations need to be investigated in a transparent manner and the culprits have to be vigorously prosecuted. Kashmiris need to feel that they control their political and economic destiny in their own hands. For this to happen however both the Indian state and the Kashmiri separatists have to demonstrate courage and pragmatic far sightedness.

The state has to take the above listed steps in the short run. In the long run it has not only to deliver on the economic measures promised previously but also to scrupulously avoid the mistakes of the past such as blatant rigging of elections as it did on the 80s in Kashmir and elsewhere in India.
For their part the Kashmiri separatists have to realize that the peaceful and constitutional methods of protest are in the best interest of all Kashmiris and the constitution is their best ally. India is not an empire; it is a Republic and a civic nation.
The constitution does not hold the rest of India in any special position over Kashmir; if anything it is the Kashmiris who hold a special place within the constitution.
Today if the separatists were to come to power via electoral politics, there is absolutely nothing that such a government could not do within the existing framework to better the life (or freedom) of an ordinary Kashmiri that it could do if they had complete ‘Azaadi”.

Nasir:

Some suggestions you make and the prognosis you offer are reasonable. If Kashmiris hold a special place in the Indian Constitution, then obviously Indian control over Kashmir was unlike any other princely state. That also shows that the Indian government had political considerations to accord special status to Kashmir within the Union. But what stops the Delhi government from acceding to the demands of the people of J&K to plebiscite? Why should a great power like India be so afraid to listen to the voice of the people instead of using state terror to crush them?

It is also possible that the vast majority may opt for India. Thus by a generous and courageous political move, India has the power to defuse the conflict for ever. If that happens, then those who stand for separation from India will lose and the consequences will pacify all sides. This can usher in a new era of improved inter-communal and regional relations. Religious fundamentalists and rightist forces on the both sides will not be able to exploit the religious sentiments of the people any longer. That will be a victory of the common sense over emotionalism and communal frenzy.

Gorki:

There is already a precedent of such a dramatic change in political struggle within India. In the 1980s many Sikh leaders were charged with sedition and jailed for demanding a Khalistan and burning copies of the Indian constitution as protest. Today, one of those former separatist is an all powerful Chief Minister in Punjab and there is no opposition because the remaining separatists cannot list a single point in which way the life of an average Sikh would be different in an independent Khalistan.

I do hope to hear form you.
Regards.

Nasir:

In India there are still many regional and ethnic conflicts. I don’t think the Khalistan movement ever had any justifiable political stance and I am happy it reached its cul de sac. But we should be aware of the pitfall of equating Khalistan with the Kashmir Conflict.

Finally, it has been a pleasure to respond to your wise and erudite comment.

Cordially yours

Nasir Khan

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One Response to “Some Comments on Resolving the Kashmir Conflict”

  1. sudhan Says:

    3.
    Nasir Khan
    January 15, 2011 – 10:41 am

    SOMKA,

    The first Governor General of India after the partition of India was Lord mountbatten, not Vallabhai Patel. He held this positon from August 15, 1947 to June 1948.

    Please see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Mountbatten,_1st_Earl_Mountbatten_of_Burma
    Reply
    4.
    Jarrar
    January 15, 2011 – 11:54 am

    Firstly there are many who dispute the validity of the treaty signed by Hari Singh, secondly the plebiscite on ‘Kashmir’ covers Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, so any decision by the Kashmiri people will cover the entire historic princely state of Jammu and Kashmir AND Ladkah, the people who have suffered the most have been the Muslims of Jammu who in 1947 lost 500’000 of their numbers and a similar amount were exiled into what is now know as POK or Pakistan proper, the ‘militancy’ or revolution was also driven by the decendents of those very same Jammudars who had been the victims of ethnic cleansing, who either crossed back over from refugee camps, or from Jammu went to fight, what a strange and cruel irony it would then be if Jammu was to allowed to cede to India when by all rights its the opressed Muslims of Jammu who have driven the sepratist movement from its inception and been at the heart of the call fro Azadi are betrayed in such a cruel way.

    Having said that, kashmiris will never accept the division of Jammu Kashmir Ladakh. Its a zero sum game, all or nothing.
    Reply
    *
    Nasir Khan
    January 21, 2011 – 2:22 pm

    As a matter of principle, I firmly adhere to the view that the people of the formely princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (Ladakh included ) should decide their future in a plebiscite. Both India and Pakistan have a responsibilty to allow the right to self-detemination for the populations on both sides of the Line of Control by working to that end.

    At the same time, the question of a zero sum game, all or nothing, favours India. India has all and it has the power to impose its will as it has done since 1947. The killing of more than one hundred thousand Kashmiries in the last two decades is the proof of that brutal power.

    Has any country or any international organisation come to save the victims of an occupying power? The answer is: No. Now with the close partnership of India, United States and Zionist Israel the prospects for any solution are even bleaker than before.
    Reply
    5.
    SOMKA
    January 15, 2011 – 12:45 pm

    Nasir,
    The point i was making here , you wrote mountbatten telling

    “When the Kashmiris from what came to be known as Azad Kashmir and the tribal fighters from the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan started a guerilla offensive on the state to bring pressure on Hari Singh to join Pakistan, he asked Lord Mountbatten for help, who agreed to give military help if the ruler joined India”

    it was not the vision of mountbatten but sardar vallabhbhai patel for united india .
    Reply
    *
    Nasir Khan
    January 15, 2011 – 9:54 pm

    Thanks Somka for this clarification!

    In fact, your first comment was no comment at all; you didn’t say anything except to mention two names. That was confusing. At the same time, I undestand fully well that some people may have some thoughts which they, for some reason, are not able to communicate well. But that is not helpful; many readers may get confused about the intent of a commentator who leaves things so vague.

    But what you say now is clear and historically accurate. I know the role of Sardar Pate at that time.
    Reply
    6.
    D C
    January 16, 2011 – 2:24 pm

    Funny article at best with the same old rhetoric.

    So is Pakistan willing to absorb every single muslim anywhere in the world where they are in a majority? If yes, then thats great. Will help solve a lot of world problem and of course India’s problems too.

    Second, if you want plebiscite bring all the Kashmiri’s back who have been thrown out due to terrorists like you!!!

    Third, considering how big a failed state Pakistan I would give full credit to people who decide to join that disaster!

    Good luck and keep up the rhetoric!

    D
    Reply
    *
    Nasir Khan
    January 16, 2011 – 8:35 pm

    D C, what you say does not make any sense at all!

    No sane person will say what you have said in your comment. There was little of any significance for anyone.

    But it is not difficult for me to see that your right-wing Hindutva views have made you a frenzied fanatic. Luckily, every Hindutva adherent is not like you.

    Your anti-Pakistan views and your tirade against what the people of Kashmir want who have suffered massacres and brutalities under the Indian occupation since 1947 and your nonsensical charge me show what you say should be simply ignored. But I didn’t ignore you; I wrote back to you. You wouldn’t understand that humane gesture either, I know. Why? because the Hindutva fascists have the political clout in India. Their propaganda against Muslim people is their political credo. So you know who you are!
    Reply
    o
    D C
    January 20, 2011 – 12:13 am

    Dear Nasir –

    Thanks for your comment. But as long as you keep living in the Hindutva fasict fanaticism, your vision will remain blurred. I am not and never was a Hindu fanatic but that is beside the point.
    FYI – I have more muslim friends in India than you can imagine who celebrate diwali, rakhi and eid together. So cut the crap!

    You carefully chose to tip toe around all the things I said. For your benefit – I repeat – Do you want every single part of India where there is a muslim majority to be part of your Pakistan? And why just India – why not the whole world wherever there is muslim population. As someone pointed out sensibly – if majority decides national affinity then why did Pakistan get created in the first place. When I last checked muslims are still minority. And how do you plan to do plebiscite – by keeping the occupied part with you and then putting in terrorists who are in J&K for the cheap money thrown at them or have been brainwashed!

    If you want to respond logically respond else, stop writing blogs that public can comment on!

    Cheers!
    Reply
    +
    Nasir Khan
    January 21, 2011 – 1:15 pm

    Dear D C

    I assure you that I am not a mind-reader, nor an astrologer. My reply to your first comment was on the basis of what you said. As I have no information about you otherwise, the only data I had was your comment that I have to interpret according to my understanding of the issues it dealt with. It was my conclusion that you either had not read my article or if you did so you turned a blind eye to it and you gave vent to your anti-Pakistan feelings or opinion.

    Once I heard a joke about a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh. A Hindu thinks before doing something. A Muslim thinks after having done something. But a Sikh doesn’t bother to think at all! Your second comment shows you think in a way that brings you closer to a Muslim!!

    The Hindutva forces in India are not a peripheral; they are a destructive communalist power that is a danger to Indian democratic system and to the religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christians. How they and others treat ‘Untouchable Hindus’ cannot be hidden from you. But Pakistan has also the problem of fundamentalism where religion was misused by our political demagogues for power. Now it is showing its results and the ordinary citizens of Pakistan suffer.

    Coming to your second comment: I am pleased that you are not a Hindu fanatic. I assure you I am not a Muslim fanatic or Kashmiri ‘terrorist’ either!

    You ask me: ‘Do you want every single part of India where there is a Muslim majority to be part of your Pakistan? And why just India – why not the whole world wherever there is Muslim population.’ I have never raised any such possibility in the case of India or the rest of the world! Yours is purely speculative formulation and I hesitate to reply to any such hypothetical question. Like a wise Hindu, it is better to think first before saying something! It doesn’t mean I want to stop you from what you want to say.

    Your reference to ‘my Pakistan’ is interesting. It is as if I am a Pakistani nationalist in the way you are an ardent Indian nationalist (my view about you, again). But I am not a Pakistani nationalist nor the official spokesman for the Pakistani ruling elite. If you thought so, you have got the whole thing wrong.

    In any case, I hope you read my article and the comments on it. That might cool you down for the time being!

    Good luck!
    Reply
    7.
    Gorki
    January 16, 2011 – 8:21 pm

    Dr. Khan I find your article useful because it allows one to hear the views of the Kashmiris themselves regarding the Kashmir imbroglio.

    On the face of it your statement “The best course left for India is to make a break with its previous policy, and accede to the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris. This will not weaken India; instead, it will show the strength of Indian democracy as well of the humane aspects of Indian cultural tradition…” sounds reasonable and taken in isolation such views even find many sympathetic listeners in India itself. However the Indians must keep other consideration in mind that cannot be considered imperialistic by any stretch of imagination.

    The reality is that the entire former British India is organically connected and anything that happens in one part has an echo elsewhere in the sub continent. For example when a sacred relic went missing for 17 days from the Hazrat Bal mosque in 1963; there was rioting all over India. Thus any action in or regarding Kashmir cannot be taken in isolation.

    While self determination and independence by themselves are honorable goals, anyone arguing for self determination only for the Kashmiris of the valley would either have to argue on the basis of some kind of Kashmiri exceptionalism or else should be willing to accept similar demands for self determination from others such as the Sikhs in the Indian Punjab and the Baluch in Pakistan. Conceding any such demands then would risks major man made disasters like the ethnic cleansing and huge population displacements that occurred in the wake of the partition in 1947.

    Letting Kashmir valley join Pakistan OTOH would in essence be conceding the two nation theory; again not without risks. As you rightly pointed out, India remains a home to some 130 million Muslims. Letting the Muslims of the valley to go join Pakistan would in no way enhance the security of the non-Kashmiri Muslims elsewhere in India and if anything would make them even more insecure and strengthen the very forces of Hindutva that you pointed out threaten India’s fragile communal amity. (Ironically this is exactly what happened to the Indian Muslims of UP and Bihar who had allowed themselves to be emotionally led into voting for the AIML’s election plank of a Pakistan in 1946 which then left them high and dry).

    Even within the state of Jammu and Kashmir itself, there would be major upheavals in case the current structure is tampered with. What would happen to the minority Muslims in Jammu and Ladakh?
    Also if one argues that Kashmir is a homeland for the Kashmiris then what happens to other non Kashmiri populations of the valley such as the Gujjars etc.? Where would their homeland be?

    You rightly mention that Kashmir is currently a big source of contention between India and Pakistan. However how certain can anybody be that this will not be the case if this issue is sorted out? Former Pakistani president, General Musharraf once said that India will remain Pakistan’s considered foe even if Kashmir issue is resolved. There are people with strong following in Pakistan who argue for waging a war on ‘Hindu India’ to conquer the Red Fort and restore the Mughal Empire. What of those?

    I agree with you however that the current stifling atmosphere in Kashmir has to come to an end; human rights violations need to be investigated in a transparent manner and the culprits have to be vigorously prosecuted. Kashmiris need to feel that they control their political and economic destiny in their own hands. For this to happen however both the Indian state and the Kashmiri separatists have to demonstrate courage and pragmatic far sightedness.

    The state has to take the above listed steps in the short run. In the long run it has not only to deliver on the economic measures promised previously but also to scrupulously avoid the mistakes of the past such as blatant rigging of elections as it did on the 80s in Kashmir and elsewhere in India.
    For their part the Kashmiri separatists have to realize that the peaceful and constitutional methods of protest are in the best interest of all Kashmiris and the constitution is their best ally. India is not an empire; it is a Republic and a civic nation.
    The constitution does not hold the rest of India in any special position over Kashmir; if anything it is the Kashmiris who hold a special place within the constitution.
    Today if the separatists were to come to power via electoral politics, there is absolutely nothing that such a government could not do within the existing framework to better the life (or freedom) of an ordinary Kashmiri that it could do if they had complete ‘Azaadi”.

    There is already a precedent of such a dramatic change in political struggle within India. In the 1980s many Sikh leaders were charged with sedition and jailed for demanding a Khalistan and burning copies of the Indian constitution as protest. Today, one of those former separatist is an all powerful Chief Minister in Punjab and there is no opposition because the remaining separatists cannot list a single point in which way the life of an average Sikh would be different in an independent Khalistan.

    I do hope to hear form you.
    Regards.
    Reply
    *
    Nasir Khan
    January 19, 2011 – 2:38 pm

    Nasir Khan
    January 16, 2011 – 10:20 pm

    Hello Gorki

    Thank you very much for your profoundly insightful and learned comment dealing with my article with the Kashmir conflict. I admire your general approach to a complicated issue and the searching questions you have raised. It should be apparent to every political analyst who reads your comment (or your scholarly political column, as I will say) that you have a good grasp of the issues involved.

    Your political perspective on many related questions, such as the right to self-determination of a subjugated people under an occupying power, also needs a good discussion. I can’t promise that I will be able to deal with every question you raise because to do so I need much work that could easily be the making of a large volume! However, I need some time before I can present my views in the light of your comment. A week or two, I suppose? But what I say is not as a nationalist or a religious man: I am a humanist that we find in Eastern and Western intellectual traditions.

    I also think of posting your comment, as an article, on my websites (Peace and Justice Post and Nasir Khan blog) after our exchange of views in the near future.

    Best regards
    Reply
    9.
    Gorki
    January 17, 2011 – 12:53 am

    Dear Dr. Khan
    Please take your time. You can post my comments as you like. Also I certainly realize that you are a thoughtful person. Even if you were a religious one in your personal life or proud of your sub identity as a Kashmiri it cannot be anything but an asset in such discussions if only you don’t lose sight of the fact that the Indian sub continent is not any one nation in the traditional respect but an ancient land that many different ‘sub nationalities’ and faiths call a home.
    Regards.
    Reply
    10.
    Nasir Khan
    January 18, 2011 – 6:38 pm

    Hello Gorki

    I must admit I find your way of formulating your views sagacious and inspiring. If you are an Indian (and I guess, you are, but one never knows? ) then I will say I feel much proud of you! Desipte my age, I hope you do not perceive what I say about you as patronsing in any way. Nonethelss, yours is a pleasant and refreshing thinking.

    About my personal religion: Not long ago, an Indian Hindu friend wrote me that he was also a humanist like me; he believed in and prayed to only One God! I hope I have a better luck this time in saying when I say I am a humanist.

    What you say about the Indian subcontinent is close to my heart. Academically, I am a historian and have a good deal of information about India and our cultural heritage.
    Reply

    2.
    Gorki
    January 19, 2011 – 4:07 am

    Dear Dr. Khan
    I do not consider you response patronizing in the least. Indeed I am an Indian, by birth, although in the modern increasingly interconnected and mobile world, nationalities and identities overlap.
    This is especially so for us Indians. Being Indian means that one comes from a land of diverse ethnic groups, eighteen major languages and a home to all major faiths known to mankind. Because of this, every Indian has several identities and sub-identities; which means that there is no fixed majority and a minority. As for me, I am an Indian by birth; a Punjabi; and also a Sikh; although in our personal faith my children and I can be better described as agnostic. I am also an American by naturalization.
    I am proud of my Indian civilizational roots and I like to think of myself as an Indian nationalist at heart, but my loyalty is not so much to a land or any ethnic group but to the Republic of India; a civic nation bound together by secular laws that promise justice and fairness for all.
    Thus I choke with emotion when I hear Nehru’s midnight speech but also when I see blood of Indian teenagers spilled on the streets of Srinagar by Indian bullets. Because of my faith in my country’s constitution, I can only consider every faith common to our land as worthy of my respect even if I not belief.
    I hope that is humanistic enough.

    Regards.
    Reply
    3.
    Gorki
    January 20, 2011 – 1:23 am

    Dear Dr. Khan

    It is obvious that we share similar views about the Indian civilization. Also there is no disagreement that while India is civilizationally connected, it is more like Europe due to its diversity therefore if one were to try to define a nation in the post Westphalian sense, India is not one nation but many.

    However, what most people (including many Indian hyper nationalists) don’t realize is that the Indian state that was conceived by its founders (and has functioned for the most part with few sad exceptions) is very differently from the nation states of Europe and the World. A classical example of the later is France; (also the first modern nation state) because it is a home of the French; a people with shared language, culture, religion, cuisine and what not. Most other European nations are states are similarly defined. (Switzerland is an exception that proves the rule).

    In 1947 when the British left India they left behind two states; India and Pakistan. The later was formed on the two nation theory (TNT) which defined a nation in the European sense; based on a shared faith. It was an idea that was alien to India for never before in its long history had India ever had a state in that sense for since the days of the Mauryas all the way to the Sikhs the states had people in who shared some but not all features of sub identity with some but not all others; be it a faith, or a region, or ethnicity or language etc.

    Therefore the Indian founding fathers founded a state that was a civic nation; many different regions, religions, languages, ethnicities all bound into a common bond by a liberal, secular constitution based on one man\woman one vote. There was no consideration given to any one majority narrative over another.

    Pakistan chose to organize itself into a nation in the classic sense; using religion as a glue to overcome differences of sub- identities. Unfortunately that by itself was too little as we saw in 1971. Ironically if there is one nation today in the sub continent in the classic sense, it is BD, for its people not only share a faith but also language and culture.

    Due to above stated issues of overlapping identities; the civic nationhood based on secularism, equality and universal suffrage seems to be best suited for a shared homeland like ours.

    How does it all apply to Kashmir?

    You have mentioned the issue of messy accession and the UN resolutions asking for a plebiscite. It is a legalistic argument and the Indian position is that since Pakistan never vacated the ‘Azad Kashmir’ as required by the UN, it can’t hold a plebiscite only in the area under its occupation.
    As I said it is a legalistic argument and I will not use it to play an apologist for the Indian state or try to gloss over its various deeds and misdeeds in Kashmir.
    However I have still have serious reservation against backing the demand for plebiscite for the following reasons:

    1. The last time things were decided by such a method was in 1946-47, when the during the elections of 1946 the Muslims of North India overwhelmingly voted for the AIML which used the demand for Pakistan as its main election plank. Based on this Pakistan came into being but what did it solve? It divided the Punjab; where the Muslims had voted Unionist yet the UP and Bihar Muslims who had actually voted for a Pakistan stayed back in India once the partition took place. The actual partition took an astonishing toll in human terms, one that had never before been seen on the sub continent. Thus once all was said and done, the very Muslims who had boisterously demanded a Pakistan less than a year earlier apparently decided that the ‘Indian Hindu rule’ was not so bad after all and chose not to move!

    2. People outside Kashmir who emotionally support its demand for ‘Azadi’ don’t know it very well; for unlike most ‘nations’ Jammu and Kashmir is not a single nation either and never was. It is a historical accident, being a remnant of a hastily put together and then lost Sikh Empire. If anything it is a microcosm of India; even if we leave out the POK, the three regions of J&K are as different from each other as any other part of India. The Laddakhis for example are ethnically close to the Tibetans, are Buddhist and strongly pro India. The valley Sunni Muslims are the driving force behind ‘Azadi’ yet Jammu; more than 60 percent Hindu, is again fiercely pro-India. Then there are the Gujjars etc. who though live in the valley are not accepted as ‘Kashmiri’ in the ethnic sense by the other valley Muslims. Even if by an accident J&K were to become Azad tomorrow, then it will result in ethnic cleansing like in 1947 of those caught on the wrong side of the border the day ‘Azadi’ came. The day after that one will almost certainly find demonstrators on the streets of Jammu and Leh asking for their own Azadi!!

    3. It does not mean that I am advocating a status quo; of course not. As I mentioned before the Kashmiri civil society needs to function free of the yoke of the Indian security forces. Local government should be by the people, of the people and for the people. It can all be achieved democratically within the framework of the constitution; tomorrow, if only the protestors were to demand, even violently, their birthrights as citizens of the Republic and not as separatists. If so there would be millions more standing up to the state on their behalf. Look at the Maoists; they are fighting the Indian state too, violently; yet people are falling over each other defending them; their spokesman petitioning the Supreme Court on their behalf. Dr. Binayek Sen is a Maoist and is still a national hero! No one expects the judgement against him to stand in the SC due to public support that his case enjoys.

    Kashmiri separatists often claim that the Indians often don’t understand them or often they are misrepresented; I think it works both ways. Unlike how they are characterized, most ‘Indians’ are not all agents of ‘Brahaminvad’; most of them are not even Brahmins. They are students, teachers, reporters, farmers, traders; in effect ordinary people. Most of them oppose further divisions because they are fearful of a replay of 1947; bloodshed, population exchanges and yet millions living on the ‘wrong side’ of the TNT based borders. Moreover like the demand for Pakistan, they find the demand for ‘Azadi’ too an emotional driven one but that cannot explain how ‘Azadi’ will be different from the current structure (in which an ordinary Kashmiri enjoys everything that all ‘other Indians’ enjoy; a representative government; one man one vote, equality for all in the eyes of the law and in public sphere regardless of religion, region or ethnicity) unless ‘Azadi’ means a freedom to have state sanctioned discrimination like the type one sees against the Ahmediyas and other minorities next door….

    One last thing; I respectfully beg to differ that Indians are only moved en masse by religious issues. During the freedom struggle, millions were moved by such non religious issues as the Jallianwalle Bagh massacre and the Dandi march; much later, thousands all over India chose to go to prison rather than accept the rape of democracy during the emergency and later voted en masse for a barely organized opposition in 1977. Indian masses understand the use of people’s power and action in one part evokes reactions elsewhere too. Make no mistake, Kashmiri independence if it were to occur, will be a major earthquake that will shake the foundation of the Indian secular state; it will imperil not only the minorities inside J&K but also the Muslim and perhaps other minorities sects all over India.

    Look forward to hear from you.
    Reply
    4.
    Some Comments on Resolving the Kashmir Conflict « Peace and Justice Post
    January 20, 2011 – 10:33 am

    [...] Note: Gorki wrote a comprehensive comment on my article ‘Resolving the Kashmir Conflict (Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011 ) in which he offered his perspective and also raised some important questions. In [...]
    Reply
    5.
    Nasir Khan
    January 21, 2011 – 11:58 pm

    Hello Gorki

    Thank you for your new comment (WPJ, January 20, 2011) about our ongoing exchange on the Kashmir Conflict.

    First, the good news: Some websites have published our exchange already. I hope some others will also do the same.

    Secondly, I welcome your new comment. But unfortunately due my heavy work schedule, it is difficult for me to respond adequately to your laudatory comment.

    No doubt, you represent a liberal, nationalist perspective on such questions as multi-identities in a huge country or a subcontinent such as India and its democratic, secular constitution. Thus we have the perfect ‘Golden Calf’ of nationalism (and national identity with Mother India and a sacred writ in the form of a constitution)! But I have problems with the sort of idealisation of the Indian political structure and the Indian Constitution, some people assert. Such postulations seem perfectly fine on paper, but what is the reality? I dare not go into all the horrific manipulation and dastardly crimes the Indian political structure allows. The working of the judicial system has not much for us to commend either as we have seen in the recent past.

    From our somewhat comfortable life in the West (for some, at least) if we have been lucky and resourceful enough to manage many hurdles, it is so easy for us to glamorise, verbally at least, our beloved motherland/motherlands – India and Pakistan – from a safe distance. That is quite entertaining an exercise, no doubt.

    But we cannot ignore the plight of the vast majority of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and other working class and unskilled people from the Third Word countries who exist under an exploitative, inhuman capitalist the system. Those who stand for and uphold the cause of exploitation of man by man will have no qualms about defending the oppressive policies of the states (such as , India and Pakistan, etc., ) and get good media coverage. But those oppose and stand against such system have no rich dividends rewards awaiting them!

    To know about a few suggestions I have for your comment, you can can contact me either on my website: Peace and Justice Post, simply by adding a comment on any article (which will not be published) or to write to: kh888n at hotmail dot com).
    Reply
    6.
    Gorki
    January 22, 2011 – 3:17 am

    Dear Dr Khan
    Let me first say that you humble me with your patience because even though I have written posts from a different POV than yours, you have not shown the slightest of irritation or disrespect. Such graciousness has to be acknowledged. Secondly, your last post of Jan 21 st. Perfectly reflects my own views of our country. A little while ago a friend asked me to write on a related topic and I wrote the following essay that can be read on the link provided. It is a bit too long but will give you an idea about my views. India is a work in progress and people like you are in short supply there but are an asset that we can use…
    Regards.

    http://cataphract.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/bric-predictions-the-irrational-exuberance-of-indian-bloggers-and-pakistan-2/#more-50

    Reply

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