Issue No 10, Sept 23-29, 2002 | ISSN:1684-2075 |



A Different View on Resolution of the Long Standing Dispute

Would it be a good idea to resolve Kashmir?

Mohammad Shehzad

PAKISTANI media, particularly the Urdu print media, is obsessed with India. It gives enormous coverage to every paltry affair taking place in India and analyzes it in the context of Kashmir, two-nation theory or Islam with an ill intention of further aggravating the tension between the two countries rather than looking at things objectively--at least such affairs that could have positive aspects.

The present days are very important for both the countries. Election is a common activity between them. Elections in Kashmir have been completed and in Pakistan will be held on October 10.

Pakistanis have been through an outrageous referendum on April 30 in which General Musharraf imposed himself on the nation for another five years with the mandate of the "long-knives". A mock-election exercise could have been more credible than the referendum. Musharraf had to admit in public that it was rigged. But his sycophants e.g. the Information Minister Nisar Memon does not believe him and is hell-bend on making the October 10 elections transparent and fair like April 30 referendum!

Simultaneously, he would condemn the elections in Jammu and Kashmir by using phrases such as "so-called", "eyewash" or "farcical". And the same phrases would be afterwards repeated by the Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan in his weekly briefing. The universal saying: "There are a few people who can see a straw in others' eyes but not a beam in their own" perfectly applies to the Pakistani establishment.

Some "gurus" and "pundits" while comparing the Pakistani and Indian media would say, the Indian media on foreign policy issues follows the line of its foreign ministry. In fact they, who are not professional journalists but just the owners of a handful of tabloids because of their heavy pockets, follow this practice. Don't they condemn elections in Kashmir repeating the Pakistani foreign office's line?

But there are a few moderate voices in Pakistan. Daily Jasarat, a publication of the orthodox Islamic party Jamat-i-Islami to everyone's utter surprise supported the Kashmir elections indirectly. "Musharraf's elections are a farce. They have already been immensely rigged. The October 12 Elections have caused a serious blow to the Kashmir cause. How could Musharraf now accuse India of holding a farcical election in the valley in the aftermath of a sham referendum in April and bogus elections in October," wrote the newspaper in its editorial of Sep 15.

Ayaz Amir, Daily Dawn's columnist while speaking recently at a public seminar said that India had lost a wonderful opportunity of settling the Kashmir dispute forever in its favor. Pakistan had literally erased Kashmir from its memory from 1971 to 1989. It was licking its wounds of 1971 defeat. Then it engaged itself in the Afghan war. During this period, India could have transferred maximum autonomy to the people of Kashmir and won their sympathies but it did not.

Ayaz Amir's point of view, in a way was supported by N Ram, Frontline's editor. In an interview with this scribe he said: "People like myself would say, give the people of J&K maximum autonomy as guaranteed by our constitution on paper. But in practice, that has been taken away. In the second half of 90's, many promises were made to restore the autonomy which were never kept. There was a pact between the Indian State and the people of J&K at the time of accession. So you have to deliver on this promise. They don't take it seriously, particularly the present government-the BJP-which officially wants to do away with this particular status i.e. Article 370 of the Constitution which provides special status to J&K."

Daily Nawai Waqt is the biggest proponent of Pakistan's ideology. Mirza Liaquat Baig in the issue of Sept 16 writes: "From 1951-1996, India has been holding rigged and bogus elections in Kashmir. This could not be called a democratic process. Elections should be held under the supervision of the UN for the self-determination-right of the Kashmiris."

Mr Baig, on the one hand declares Ramjeth Millani's Kashmir Committee as "ludicrous" but quite interestingly appreciates his words too i.e. Kashmir is a controversial territory and those who refuse to admit it live in the paradise of fools.

Nawai Waqt (Sep 16) while reporting on elections says that Indian forces have threatened to torch the houses of the Kashmiris if they did not cast their votes. Kashmir has literally become Indian army's camp. The army has snatched vehicles from local people. It will use them to transport people to polling stations.

"Election Drama to start today in the Occupied Kashmir," was the front-page heading of Daily Pakistan on Sep 16. "BSF is fully prepared to make people participate in the elections on the gun point." is the sub-headline. Writing an opinion piece in it (Sep 16) Mohammad Farooq Rehmani said that Election was not the issue in "Occupied" Kashmir. The Kashmiris were not against the elections. They should first be given the right to self-determination. The US support to India was obvious: use her as a proxy against China just like it used Pakistan against the former USSR.

Institute of Policy Studies is a Pakistani think-tank. It recently released a special report on the Kashmir's election history. Th report said that nine elections have been held in the "Occupied" Kashmir during the last 50 years. All of them were immensely rigged and boycotted by the Kashmiris. In 1951, all the members of National Conference were elected unopposed. In 1956, 40 and in 1962, 33 members were elected unopposed. This seriously questions the credibility of successive elections. In the light of the UN resolutions, these elections do not give true representation to Kashmiris, which is extremely important for Kashmir's future. India is holding these elections to rebuff the world's pressure.

Speaking to Daily Dawn (Sep 16) Kashmir Committee's Chairman, Sardar Abdul Qayyum said: "The Indian bogey of cross-border infiltration and terrorism was aimed at legitimizing its entitlement to occupied territory. Holding of elections in phases is aimed at ensuring rigging and manipulation in results."

What press was publishing on elections in Kashmir a few weeks ago? Ali Javed Naqvi wrote an article, "Intikhab Naheen Istaswab" (Right to self-determination, not Elections) on Sep 1 in the Sunday Magazine of Nawai Waqt. He said, people of "Occupied Kashmir" Hurriyat leaders and mujahideen want nothing but Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. This scribe is sure that this has never been Hurriyat's standpoint. Abdul Ghani Lone and some other Hurriat's leader were sick and tired of jihadis. Lone publicly asked the jihadis to stop their jihad in Kashmir because it was maligning their true freedom struggle.

Daily Jang in its Sep 1 editorial wrote: India has failed to ensure Kashmiris' participation in the upcoming elections. The Kashmiris know it well that they could not be pleased with the "toy" of elections."

In a nutshell, Pakistani media is extremely dull in excoriating elections in Kashmir. The cliché is, "UN resolutions", a solution that is never possible in the eyes of those who believe in realities and don't indulge in daydreaming. But what is the harm in harping on the "self-determination"? It is a license to your "patriotism"!

Elections in Kashmir should not be a matter of concern of a nation whose 40 percent people live below poverty line in abject circumstances. Kashmir has become an outstanding excuse in the hands of the selfish army, bureaucracy and politicians of Pakistan. They could plunder the resources of Pakistan to increase their bank-balance and justify their wrongdoings in the name of Kashmir. The same situation exists in India. The belief of Pakistani civil society is, Kashmir is not amenable to any solution because it is not in the interest of both India and Pakistan to solve it. The survival of their vested interests is in the continuous tension between the two countries and Kashmir is a good reason to intensify it. The Kashmir dispute has provided excellent employment opportunity and perks to the Indian and Pakistani establishment. Why would they think of resolving it and alleviate poverty? Are they a bunch of fools?

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad. Email:

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