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31 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 31 March, 2019 12:07:45 AM
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Behind inclusion of Kashmir in Indian union and India-Pakistan relationship

The Kashmiris, cutting across their religious faiths, have meticulously preserved an overarching identity as distinct and separate nation within the subcontinent. After independence and partition of India, decolonisation of princely states had been initiated by both the countries
PROF. DEBARSHI BHATTACHARYA
Behind inclusion of Kashmir in Indian union and India-Pakistan relationship

In 1947, when the British finally left India after almost two centuries, British rulers produced two countries cutting across, India and Pakistan, out of one. Thus, the transfer of power to the two successor states, India and Pakistan, represented a passive revolution, because there was no telescoping of political and social revolution in either part. Such political transformation of the two states was not accompanied by a fundamental socio-economic transformation. This was the historical context of future distortions in the nation-building processes in India as well as in Pakistan, which have generated ethnic secessionism in both the countries. Despite certain obvious outward changes in forms of governance of new political hyperboles, the Indian Govt. led by Jawarlal Nehru largely represented a continuation of British attitude both in form and substance. After independence and partition in 1947, the Indian Govt. led by the Congress Party unfortunately chose not to develop an alternative state structure with the independent country; rather, to maintain the police and parliamentary organizations in the country as inherited from the British. On the other hand, Pakistan had no viable party organization at the time of independence and partition to sustain the political structure of the new nation. Unlike the Indian National Congress which had an enduring presence in the local structures of politics in Hindu majority provinces, the Muslim League was a patchy organization with practically no organizational presence in the Muslim majority provinces. Md. Ali Jinnah was the sole spokes-person of Muslim politics in British India at the national level only. Jinnah had little command over local Muslim politicians. In such circumstances, the Muslim League had fall back upon regional political networks among locally powerful landed magnates who were, however, not subjected to any rigorous party control. The tenuous political hold of Jinnah and the Pakistani Govt. over local politics was further complicated by both the ethnic diversity in Pakistan and the fact that the new state was a geographically splintered territory with the western wing separated from the eastern wing by a thousand of miles and presence of an intermediate vast Indian territory. Thus, political and social frameworks of India and Pakistan have been structured and grown up even after their emergences as two independent states.

India-Pakistan relationship, since their independence and partition, has been rocky and these two neibouring states have been involved in four wars in the mean time. Several insurgency attacks on Indian democracy and its people as consequence of frequent cross border terrorism, which is bred on Pakistani soil, particularly targeting India has worsened bilateral relationship between the two neibouring nations. Kashmir has been the bedrock issue between the smooth relationships of the two countries and still has been an unresolved international border dispute issue between them. The never-ending cross border terrorism in Kashmir has always been an issue between the two countries, by virtue of which both nations are always in a perpetual state of war. Despite the fact that after the Kargil conflict, there was a Ceasefire Agreement signed by the two neibouring countries in 2003, there have been regular cross border ceasefire violations, allegedly from the Pakistan side of the border, which has been killing and injuring innumerable security forces as well as civilians on both sides.

Jammu and Kashmir (J & K), where insurgency politics challenges the Indian state, entails a long history for its inclusion in Indian Republic. Kashmir has been a contested site between India and Pakistan since 1947. Kashmir was one of the 560 odd princely states in undivided India which though accepted British supremacy in the region, but was not subjected to direct British administration; rather, remained as an independent state even before independence and partition of India. J & K had an overall Muslim majority but was ruled by the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. J & K’s demographic distribution along religious lines was also uneven; the Kashmir valley being predominantly Muslim, the Jammu region being explicitly Hindu and Ladakh valley being largely Buddhist. The Kashmiris, cutting across their religious faiths, have meticulously preserved an overarching identity as distinct and separate nation within the subcontinent. After independence and partition of India, decolonization of princely states had been initiated by both the countries. During the process of such decolonization, such princely states ruled by their hereditary Maharajas or Nawabs were granted the options of either joining any two of the successor states of India and Pakistan. The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League were ranged on opposite sides in Kashmir’s political landscape since the pre-independence period. The triggering point for this political polarization was a popular secular movement against Maharaja’s autocratic misrule in Kashmir valley led by Sheikh Abdullah of the National Conference. While Mahatma Gandhi and Jawarharlal Nehru were enthusiastic supporters of the National Conference, Md. Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League opposed it. In the context of such contradictory pulls the Maharaja of Kashmir initially preferred to join neither India nor Pakistan at the time of partition of India. But the situation changed due to sudden insurgency events when an uprising occurred in the predominantly Muslim area of Poonch in Kashmir in October, 1947 in support of demand for Azad Kashmir. Maharaja Hari Singh instantly deployed his troops to crush the mutiny. This invited an infiltration of Pathan tribesman from across the Pakistan border. Finding no alternative to combat against such insurgent movement in his territory, Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to Indian Govt. for rescue from the attack which was granted on condition of his accession to the Indian Republic. As consequence, the Treaty of Accession was signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir and the Indian state for inclusion of J & K in Indian Federation. In the aftermath of Independence, most of the Muslim political leaders in India had also endorsed the Indian Govt. stand on Kashmir. This was testified by the national convention of Muslim leaders in March, 1958. Indian troops were flown thereafter into Kashmir and the tribal intruders advancing towards the Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir, were driven back. The Pakistani army intervened on behalf of the intruder tribesman which occasioned the first Indo-Pak War. The war was ended by cease-fire in January, 1949 which left Pakistan with one-third of the old Kashmir Kingdom, termed as ‘Pak-occupied Kashmir’ (PoK) from Indian point of view, while the rest became the province of J & K of the Indian Federation. This cease-fire line, subsequently ratified in the Shimla Pact, 1972, continues to be the Line of Control (LoC) the Indian and Pakistani occupied parts of Kashmir.

It is generally admitted that Pakistan’s intervention on behalf of the Pathan tribesmen provoked anger amongst the Kashmiris which significantly contributed to India’s success in beating off the Pakistani challenge to the Treaty of Accession with India. Kashmir’s integration with India was thus marked by the “Kashmiris’ disapproval of Pakistan” and gratitude towards India. In return, a special clause was inserted in the Indian Constitution in form of Article 370 to ensure fundamental autonomy in the internal administration of J & K. In spite of involvement of prolong history behind inclusion of Kashmir in Indian federation, a predominant section of Kashmiris have been involved in secessionist insurgency against the Indian state which got highest momentum since 1990. The roots of the Kashmiri intransigence towards the Indian state lie, on one hand, due to unrest provocation of Pakistan in the valley, as well as, on the other hand, in contradictions within the nation-building strategy adopted by the Indian state.    

Out of desperation, there has been a rise in the number of infiltrations of terrorists from across the LoC, which has been routine for quite a while now. With the void in between the Kashmiri people and the establishment increasing after the devastating floods of 2014, there was rising discontent again in the valley. The trigger to the events was the killing of the militant commander, Burhan Wani, of the terrorist organization Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, which led to widespread protests in the valley and the situation had been highly volatile ever since with almost daily scenes of protests and stone pelting in the valley. According to S. Ganguly, as he pointed out in his book, ‘The Crisis in Kashmir : Portents of War, Hopes of Peace’ published by Cambridge University Press in 1997, “While modernization opened up for Kashmiris’ new possibilities of alternative futures, the undermining of democratic content in the region’s political process is believed to have stultified the potentials of such options, which created conditions for the generation of violent and separatist politics”.

Pakistan took advantage of the situation and fuelled the protests by providing the elements fighting against the Indian state with all sorts of possible support. Despite many positive initiatives taken, the India-Pakistan relationship in recent times has reached an all-time low with some sore issues sticking out. There were some initiatives taken by the Govt., for example, inviting the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the swearing-in ceremony of the new PM of India, an unscheduled visit to Lahore by the Indian PM to the residence of the PM of Pakistan, which showed some signs of positive development in the bilateral relationship. However, the attack on the Indian Air Force Base at Pathankot in January, 2016, just a few days after Indian PM visited the Pakistani counterpart, again threatened the bilateral relationship between the two nations. There had been massive retaliation to the unprovoked firing in the LoC accompanied by complete stoppage of talks at all levels in between the nations. With rising discontent and a volatile situation once again in Kashmir from mid-2016, India accused Pakistan of adding fuel to the unrest and glorifying terrorists by declaring them ‘martyrs’. Terrorist attacks on security forces remarkably increased in the valley. The attack on the Uri Army base camp in September, 2016, where 19 Indian soldiers were killed, was also carried by an organization, which has its roots in Pakistan. Pakistan-based terrorist organizations were also responsible for 26/11 attack in Mumbai, India. On 14 February, 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in the Pulwama district of J & K. The attack resulted in the death of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. India reacted instantaneously.

In a first, India tinkered with the Indus Water Treaty , a Treaty which stood the test of time and the bitter sour relationship for more than 55 years and was pondering with the fact to fully exploit the water potential of the West flowing rivers over which Pakistan has control, followed by surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Air Force across the LOC in form of heavy air raid bombing in Balakot at Pak-occupied Kashmir targeting terrorist training camp run by Jais-e-Mahhammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization headed by Maulana Massod Azahar. Indian PM declare that “talks and terrorism cannot go hand in hand”. Thus, the fact trickles down to the point that India has its stand that until Pakistan doesn’t do enough to tackle the terrorism menace, there can be no talks held in between the nations. On the other hand, Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India but it wants discussion on the Kashmir issue which it keeps raking up every time; although India has its stand that the Kashmir issue is solely an internal issue of the Indian state and accordingly, it would not allow any interference of Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

As consequence, bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan has been direly hanging on Kashmir issue. Unless Kashmir issue is mutually resolved by the two neighbouring nations, their relationship stands on the edge of bloody river.    

The writer is an educationist based in West Bengal, India

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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