Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Kashmir debate

What a time to have a debate on Kashmir! Musharraf is in Delhi. And today, Sunday Times of India has published the findings of a survey which says most people feel that we should get on with ground reality by accepting the Line of Control as the actual border.

One of my friends pointing to the Times: Which side are you on?

I: On the side of those who want LoC (Line of Control) as the border.

Friend: What a stupid idea it is!

I: It's not stupid. It's the only practical solution.

Friend: You mean just give to Pakistan what is actually our land?

I: We aren't giving up any land, we are only giving up a claim; of course with Pakistan also giving up its claim on Indian terrority .

Friend: How do you say that? The LoC is many kilometres within the Indian border... PoK is the area captured by Pakistan. Shouldn't we get that back?

I: Similarly, remember, Pakistan also feels that the Muslim-majority areas in Jammu and Kashmir should be with Pakistan, and that India is wrongly holding to it with the help of its troops...

Friend: Okay...

I: ... See... There is no border actually. What you are saying as border, that is what we see in our (Indian) maps as border with Pakistan is actually well inside Pakistan. It's only an imaginary border, a line showing our claim, that doesn't reflect the rearlity. The reality is the LoC. Their land (what for us is Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) is shown as part of India, while in reality for all these decades, it is a Pakistan-administered territory.

Friend: You mean to say...

I: ... I mean to say there is actually no border issue. It's just a theoretical claim that India and Pakistan are making. Just stop talking about this claim, the problem is solved... It's just that simple...

Friend: (laughs)

I: See, Muzaffarabad is in Pakistan, but our map shows it as in India. Srinagar is in India, but Pakistan says it should actually be with Pakistan (that is why Musharraf supported terrorists to free Kashmir from Indian troops.) That is it... The dispute is in the claims that the two countries are making. And all the problems like terrorism is stemming out of the claims.

Friend: We should have made sure PoK became part of India..

I: Yea, that is what Pakistan was also saying, make sure Indian Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan! Now, how do you do that? Get the lakhs of people living there disenfranchised as Pak citizens and make them Indian citizens? And, similarly get Indian Kashmiris converted as Pakistan citizens? Do you really think it is so easy to do all that?

See, when the war ended with a ceasefire, the respective positions of Indian and Pakistani troops at that time were agreed upon as the Line of Control. Neither India nor Pakistan agreed to that line as the border since the claim to each other's land still existed. Still India and Pakistan are not agreeing to it. That is the problem.

On the ground, however, the LoC is functioning as the border, with Indian and Pak troops on either side. Only in the map, and in the minds, a different border exists.

What we should do is: One, our leaders should just stop talking about Kashmir problem. Talk only if there is something about making people's lives better. Actually that is what India has been trying to do. Indian claim on PoK is much less than Pak claim on Indian Kashmir. That is why Indian Kashmir is affected by terrorism, and not PoK. It's Musharraf who is riding the tiger, because he and not India is obsessed with Kashmir. He is finding it difficult to dismount. With great difficulty he dismounted the Laden tiger, and Musharraf is still alive. He needs to make sure he will be alive if he dismounts the Kashmir tiger too...

Two, after a few years, once the feeling of a "border problem" disappears (as India really hopes it will with lots of people-to-people contacts), quietly change the maps of the two countries to reflect the actual reality, of the areas as they have been for the past many decades.

Dear friend, it's all in the mind. See, Indo-Pak cricket matches were equivalent to a war till just a few years back. Now, these matches are just like any other cricket match. That is all.

One more thing. The so-called border or LoC is just for administrative purposes. Effectively, the border is like that between states within our country, since the people on either sides are all the same. Brother is India, sister is in Pak; or uncle is in Pak and nephew is in India... that sort of situation...

Friend: (Laughs)

I: Let the people mix freely. Let more Indian movies be shown in Pak and Pak movies in India, let each country get more access to things in the other country, more of imports and exports.... the border will matter lesser and lesser. Our lives become more meaningful.

And, soon we will realise that there is actually no need to spend some Rs 500 crores or so every day to maintain Indian troops on Siachin, and Pakistan will realise that is there is no need to run terrorist training camps!

(Our debate ended since it was time up for my friend to leave)

1 comment:

  1. Hello Pradeep: This is interesting. My window to life in India. Here's to sharing cultures and embracing diversity.