It is most unfortunate that the Kashmir problem has had an extremely deleterious impact on both India and Pakistan as the development of both the countries has been adversely affected. Kashmir has never really been out of news but the recent happenings have brought it into focus once again. Leaders of BJP who were happy only criticising the UPA government for not adopting proactive policy to deal with the proxy war which intensified into low-level conflict, have shown some steel and put Pakistan on the back-foot diplomatically as well as militarily. Surgical strikes on the terrorist launch pads within Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) on 29 September have shown that the NDA government has the political will to tell Pakistan that enough is enough. Modi has demonstrated what a determined leader can do to safeguard the interests of a nation like ours.
The threat to national security from Pakistan is by far the most potent and dominant of external threats. The times ahead are full of challenges. A systematic vicious proxy war in J&K since 1990, a relentless disinformation campaign against India in international forums like UN, attempts to garner moral and material support from Islamic countries and direct support to terrorism is the national policy of Pakistan since its coming into being.
After 1971, Bhutto raised the level of the hate-India campaign many notches higher. In fact, Pakistan’s very existence depends on an anti-India stance and every politician and military leader goes to any extent to bleed India. For meeting this end, the Pakistan army has been raising its defence expenditure, which has always been higher than the development expenditure. Kashmir is an obsession with Pakistan and it will do anything to settle it on its own terms. Pakistan tried to annex J&K in 1965 but lost important positions including Haji Pir pass.
The 1971 war ended in the Pakistan’s surrender of 93,000 troops in Dhaka. According to the Shimla Agreement that followed, both countries agreed “to put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations,” and “to refrain from threat or use of force in violation of the ceasefire line.” Pakistan has totally forgotten the Shimla Agreement and now is harping on the U N Resolution of 1948 regarding holding of plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir.
There is no doubt that Pakistan’s army is far better equipped (and better prepared) today than it was in 1965 and 1971. Hence, the threat of a continued proxy war with the aim of separating Kashmir from India remains very high. Pakistan is doing its best to throw the minorities out of Kashmir so that if and when a plebiscite is held, it can get hold of Kashmir using the religious factor. With its irresponsible and erratic behavior, the use of nuclear weapons to attain this goal or letting such weapons get into the hands of terrorists remains a distinct possibility.
India is constitutionally designed to be a ‘federal’ nation which implies greater autonomy to its states. However, in our type of democracy, the chances of misusing the autonomy is very high and any central government has to strike a very critical balance. Utterances by spokespersons of certain political parties and individuals after the bold action is, to say the least, most unfortunate. Politicians who have no idea of the complexities of external threat perceptions and needs of national security compete with each other in
uttering nonsense. Asking for the footage amounts to inviting Pakistan to take some action against us.
Many newspaper and TV commentators are celebrating the strikes. In any case, national hysteria of the kind which we have witnessed in the last few weeks is harmful to the national interests. The strikes were only to signal the intent of the government and those asking for more are irrational in their approach. It has been proved time and again that no one lets India down like its own politicians of all hues. Any sensible citizen would think twice before saying something which can lower the morale of the great Indian soldier, but not stupid, good-for-nothing ‘leaders’. Modi has done the right thing to put a check on them.
Let us understand the genesis of the Kashmir issue. J&K, a predominantly Muslim state, did not accede to Pakistan in the 1947 Partition, in spite of Pakistan’s best efforts. The conflict is a consequence of Pakistan’s attempt to usurp J&K by force in 1947, which made India — victim of aggression against its territorial integrity — go to the UN. Pakistan did not take the sensible route of going to the UN but it sent its army to annex Kashmir by force and has been illegally holding a large chunk of J&K territory since the ceasefire declared in December 1948.
It is unfortunate that India is known for getting surprised. We were surprised by Pakistan raiders in 1948. Pakistani armed intruders in the Kargil sector (1999) came as a complete surprise to the Indian government and intelligence agencies of the state and the Centre. All of us were again surprised by the attack on the very root of our democratic system, the Parliament (2001). We were surprised in Mumbai (2008) and now we have been surprised in Uri. As a matter of fact, we always get surprised by our adversary who takes militarily ‘irrational’ decisions. Kargil left 474 heroes dead and more than 1,200 injured and all we did was to let the world know how surprised we were.
This is not to cast any aspersions on the professionalism of our great armed forces but the systems we have in place for intelligence gathering and coordination between various agencies involved in it leaves much to be desired. An average Indian has no idea how much J&K territory is already beyond our control for one reason or the other. Out of the total area of 21,22,236.89 sq km of the state, 50,000 sq km has been illegally occupied by Pakistan out of which it has ceded about 16,000 sq km to China. Another 37,555 sq km is under direct occupation of China.
Let us understand the essential features of the Resolution of the United Nations Security Council of 13 August 1948 which Pakistan has always been using to its advantage in all international forums. The Resolution resolved to “…………submit simultaneously to the governments of India and Pakistan” the proposal in three parts.
Part I: The ceasefire order
Part II: The Truce Agreement
It very clearly states that “As the pressure of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from the State.”
Legal and moral niceties are not going to prevent Pakistan from escalating the proxy war in future. We must be prepared
Part II(B1): It very clearly lays down, “When the Commission shall have notified the Government of India that the Pakistan nationals referred in Part II, A2 hereof have withdrawn, thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the Government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence of Indian forces in the State, of Jammu and Kashmir, and further that Pakistan forces are being withdrawn from the State of J &K, the Government of India agrees to begin to withdraw the bulk of its forces from the State in stages to be agreed upon with the Commission”
Part III : Part III
It leaves no room for any doubt and says that the “will of the people” comes in to play only once the Truce Agreement (Part II) has been accepted by both the governments. It states, “The Government of India and Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of J&K shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, acceptance of the Truce Agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will, be assured.”
It is clear from the above that Pakistan has negated the UN Resolution seeking a referendum by not meeting the laid down conditions. As such it has no moral, ethical or legal case in Kashmir, but is only twisting the interpretation of the words to shrewdly get sympathy from the international community. It justifies its actions on the ground that the state’s accession was illegal; that the UN Resolution has not been implemented; Muslims are being victimised in the predominantly Muslim region and that the Indian security forces are engaged in genocide.
None of these arguments holds good. It is well known that India interceded only when the constitutional head of the state, Mahraja Hari Singh finally signed the instrument of accession. With this act, the state became Indian territory and India has the full right to take all necessary actions in self-defence and protect its territory by all means available to it. Pakistan’s claim of representing Muslim interests in Kashmir is also fallacious as India has more Muslims than Pakistan and it is only in India that all citizens are granted equal rights. Pakistan denies all rights to those living in POK, whereas India holds free and fair elections and a popular government is elected.
However, we must note that legal and moral niceties alone are not going to prevent Pakistan from escalating the proxy war in future. We must be prepared for all eventualities to tackle the menace of our neighbor, who is slowly moving towards becoming a terrorist state.