Whether Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan or more recently Kashmir, the genesis of issues reside in geography, geo strategic dimensions , if you will. This much isn’t much of a revelation because Kashmir was handed over to India precisely for this reason, whole of it mind you.
Spanner in the works came from brave Kashmiris themselves, our independent minded Pashtun brothers and of course courageous fighters from what is now Gilgit Baltistan, liberating a sizeable chunk to bring up Azad Jammu and Kashmir, AJ& K, as an independent entity. That it would align itself with Pakistan in every conceivable manner was always a given.
Just imagine the situation if this part was also under India’s control specially in the light of communique issued after the first ever CEC of All India Congress declaring that Pakistan is an unnatural state, would wither away itself or else, would be undone (by force if necessary- my own addition to clarify the point).
Pakistan would have been defending itself along River Jhelum with nothing holding back Indian behemoth. Our rivers would have been dried up by now barring mighty Indus whose tributaries are thankfully beyond India.
How would this affect Afghanistan, China and to an extent Russia, is an interesting study by itself. However, question begging an answer right now is about China’s BRI of which CPEC through Pakistan is the most critical part. There would be no Karakoram Highway, no CPEC and probably no BRI.
Flashback and let’s look at the starting point of ongoing indigenous freedom struggle by Kashmiris who have been suffering under the yoke of Indian brutalities ever since it came into being, early nineties onwards.
Till then one would usually talk about two options given to Kashmiris as and when UNSC Resolutions on the subject would take effect. One started hearing of third option, that of Independent Kashmir, more often. Till then it did find mention now and then but never on regular basis and rarely by serious minded people. Late Mr Mumtaz Rathore ex PPP was PM of AJ & K at that time, was one leader found talking about it more and more, not very openly though. It did however, find eager followers among younger generation, particularly the students of different colleges in the state. It was quite baffling at that point because Mujahideen were up in arms against occupation forces across the length and breadth of IHK. It simply didn’t make sense to quite a few of us and was therefore, invariably rubbished.
Not till Americans put this question to couple of Pakistani officers visiting USA. What would be the reaction of Army and people in Pakistan if idea of Independent Kashmir was pushed through in earnest (of course by America - my addition again)? It all started falling into place. A strategically located, landlocked Independent Kashmir with strong American presence would be a huge feather in the cap of sole super power in the world.
With Soviet Union disintegrated, unsettled Afghanistan soon to be occupied by US on pretext to be manufactured later, US dominated Independent Kashmir would complete its dominance of this vital region. Plot it on the map if you think my imagination is under the influence of some kind of banned substance.
Fast forward to the famous press conference on 22 July in White House when President Trump shocked everyone by revealing that Mr Modi had requested him to mediate between Pakistan and India to resolve outstanding Kashmir Dispute. And that he would be more than willing to help settle this bloody dispute if the two countries agreed. As expected Pakistan was over joyed while India went up in roar, denying it altogether.
Surprisingly Mr Modi has yet to commit himself one way or the other. If that wasn’t sufficient , Mr Trump repeated his offer yet again nine days later.
Last days of July, beginning August, it seems that Modi led India has something entirely different in mind with regard to Kashmir. All of it is very recent and ongoing, providing enough substance to everyone to analyse it anyway they feel like.
Here’s why I would be dubbed as devils advocate and frankly, wouldn’t mind either. Questions galore;
1. Why would US President make an offer if Mr Modi hadn’t asked him?
2. Why would he repeat the offer even after everyone in India denied it?
3. That is everyone except Mr Modi. Why hadn’t he denied it himself?
4. Of course, why such a huge addition of forces, over 200000 to what is already the most heavily militarised zone in the world? It adds up to entire Pakistan Armed Forces PLUS 250,000 armed men against 250 to 700 Freedom Fighters(according to different Indian reports) only.
5. How much reaction could be expected from rest of the unarmed and already under terrible siege Kashmiri Muslims if Modi were to undo infamous Article 370 and Article 35A of Indian Constitution ? Not much.
He’s already done it today and there’s pretty little that anyone is doing about it beyond lip service. Its time we woke up to REAL POLITIC, started using our heads, not to smash unbearable walls but to think rationally, dispassionately.
While gloating over Trump’s two mediation offers we forgot few basic facts which are;
1. There’s only one principle which guides international power politics; NATIONAL INTERESTS, nothing more and nothing less. Look around or go back in history, you will not find resolution of any dispute outside this narrow confine.
2. Any solution of Kashmir issue which doesn’t strengthen Indian position will never ever come about, not even if Pakistan were to use ten times as much power as it has now. Powers to be will intervene much earlier to reign in Pakistan. Recall 1962 Indo-China Conflict, US Intervention cum mediation resulting into most useless six rounds of Indo-Pakistan Dialogues.
3. Now analyse Trump’s two offers, entire India less Modi denying it, entire Pakistan including our PM going around triumphantly calling it India’s diplomatic failure. Place it alongside Modi’s action today and you will know why I am devil’s advocate.
4. Trump’s mediation offers were never to help unfortunate Kashmiris but to help out India in case Pakistan were to react in a way prejudicial to Indo-US interests. Arrival of Alice Wells, US Under Secretary of State in Pakistan today couldn’t have been better timed.
5. In all probability Trump’s mediation offers will now be accepted by India to compel Pakistan into accepting the NEW STATUS QUO which is simply recognizing LOC as a semi permanent boundary pending finalisation of never ending Indo-Pak negotiations under some international body.
6. As when US, India and their other close allies feel comfortable enough, which could be some years away, next stage of the plan, forcing Pakistan out of AJ&K will start becoming obvious.
Only limited effects of Strategic Partnership between America, India and Israel are visible so far. We should be ready for more surprises as the ongoing great game unfolds with passage of time. Just listen to loud and ominous sounding condemnation of latest Indian moves and keep recording their sound levels; these would be inversely proportional to their sincerity.
Don’t get disappointed if our Iron Friend has finally hit bottom of the deepest sea or has discovered heights greater than Himalayas. Don’t count on Russia which has lot to gain from India. Also try to understand as to why some of us shouted ourselves hoarse against heavy borrowing at high rates by previous governments and much needed begging forced on this government by the economic hitmen.
Consequently, all our friends, having obliged us monetarily, aren’t in mood to do the same in matters of foreign policy. It ain’t fair but then it’s the reality.
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America would have loved an Independent Kashmir, all of it. Part of it under Indian domination is the next best thing as starter. Next stage would come in due course. Till then, Pakistan has to find a way to deal with the fait accompli presented by India.
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