Why are there constraints in solving the Kashmir Dispute? Will the Kashmir Issue continue to be the ‘thorn’ between India-Pakistan relations and endanger the entire South Asia? EurAsian Times interviewed various defence experts who stated that the Kashmir issue will only be addressed after the 2019 Indian Elections, but both sides will need to make compromises and build trust.
To look for a permanent solution, one has to re-look at history. The hasty partition of the sub-continent by the British had left many issues relating to the assets, army and accession of Princely States undecided. These and other unresolved issues created a host of complex territorial problems.
The most critical were disagreements over three Princely States – Junagadh, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir. Although India’s occupation of the Junagadh and Hyderabad States had been broadly accepted, the state of J&K is still a disputed territory. Despite numerous United Nations resolutions, the dispute ‘Kashmir’ remains unsettled.
According to the Washington Report, Islamabad argued that Kashmir should become a part of Pakistan because the majority of its inhabitants are Muslims whilst India claimed Kashmiris want to remain a part of India.
Over the years, world organizations, thinkers and politicians have tried to come up with a so-called solution. The Fair Observer rightly stated that “Let’s start with acknowledging the truth that most Kashmiris want independence from both Pakistan and India, whether openly or secretly, even if they don’t admit this to the media.
This is the third and not unworkable solution of a Kashmiri plebiscite under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, which requires Pakistan to first withdraw from Kashmir. India would also never give its consent for this because it would be politically unacceptable in the country and disastrous for any election, aside from legal issues of secession needing careful management.
Moreover, while most Pakistanis would be willing to let the Kashmiris decide whether they should become part of Pakistan or go independent, a majority of Pakistanis would not abide India retaining Kashmir. India continues to proclaim that if Kashmir secedes, a number of other ethnic minority regions such as the North East might follow suit.
And some Kashmiris acknowledge that this is indeed going to happen. Pakistan and India both face similar charges of human rights abuses in their respective – administered Kashmir, ranging from political repression, electoral fraud, forced disappearances, torture and suppression of freedom and speech.
Ireland-like Solution For Kashmir
Experts that EurAsian Times talked to state that the Kashmir dispute cannot be turned on and off like a spigot. “Both countries have to seek a real and lasting solution.” In July 2018, former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah proposed an Ireland-style solution of an open border between the UK-governed Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic’s adjacent territory as the best option to resolve the Kashmir issue. He had said this in London during a discussion organized by the South Asia Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
The meandering Irish land border runs for just under 500 kilometers across the northern part of the island of Ireland. It divides the independent state of the Republic of Ireland from six countries of Northern Ireland (a region of the United Kingdom).
It was the Government of Ireland Act (1920) that first divided the island into two separate jurisdictions, each with its own government and parliament. The partition was envisaged as an integral UK matter and as a temporary answer to the thorny question of contested sovereignty across the island.
It was a solution that made sense in light of two overarching principles of contemporary democracy: nation-statehood and majoritarianism. The border was intended to create straightforward majorities on either side that reflected broadly different national sentiments. The island’s complex history as a site of contests for power and control, some of which battles had wide European resonances, was thus, dramatically over-simplified and reduced into the division of the Irish border.
With this in mind, Mr Farooq Abdullah said Kashmir can be solved if India and Pakistan realize that whatever solution has to emerge, everybody will not accept it. “But at least 70 to 80 per cent of India, Pakistan, J&K should accept it.”
Other experts are also of a similar opinion. Zia Mian, Pakistan expert suggested freedom of mobility across the Line of Control dividing Kashmir may be a first step towards building confidence. Kashmiri expert Siddiq Wahid says New Delhi and Srinagar will have to take first steps toward resolving the political dispute, closely followed by inclusion of Pakistan. Pakistan PM Imran Khan is also contemplating opening the revered Sharada Peeth temple for Kashmiri Pandits and this could be a first major step towards this nobel initiative.