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Kashmir, The Only Solution
“Any people which has been annexed with another people”, Lenin wrote, “not by the voluntary desire of its majority but by the decision of a Tsar or government is an annexed people, a captive people”. This sums up the essence of the Kashmir dispute.

It reminds me of a couple who for years have suffered through a bad marriage. They separated long ago but the divorce lawyers are still working on the Divorce deed. And the only unresolved question is: who gets the custody of the child?

The Kashmir dispute basically involves three parties. Pakistan and India are the two main parties according to the UN Resolutions. Kashmiris are the third party, whose right of self-determination has been recognized in several UN Resolutions. Pakistan and India, on their own, cannot decide the future of the Kashmiris.

By 1957, Indian leaders, including Nehru, began to hint that the real settlement of the Kashmir problem lay in partition, not plebiscite. What they meant was the recognition of defacto frontier along the Kashmir cease-fire line as the de jure frontier between India and Pakistan. Each side would keep what it had; and that is that. India would not be too fussy about what went on, across the cease-fire line.

Today Indian attitude is characterized by a certain smugness based on the knowledge that possession is 9 points of law – however illegal and immoral the possession. Indian strategy is based on the assumption that there would, in due course, be no more talk of a plebiscite and the defacto situation would acquire, through usage, a de jure status. The Kashmir dispute would then be settled out of court. This strategy seems to be working very well indeed. Statuesque suits the Indians. It is anathema to the people of Pakistan. The UN Resolutions are still valid even though India has made many efforts to declare them ‘dead’ particularly after the signing of the Simla Agreement on July 3, 1972. It gives me no pleasure to say that after 1972, I never heard the word “plebiscite” in any cabinet meeting that I attended.

In 1948, in a conversation with the British High Commissioner on plebiscite in Kashmir, Mr. Jinnah said: “the most urgently important matter for decision was the form of administration to be setup in Kashmir on the cessation of hostilities. He had no doubt that India intended to retain control of Kashmir and to accept no form of plebiscite unfavorable to that end. “Impartial administration of the State after cease-fire was essential and without the guarantee of such a development, he (Mr. Jinnah) himself could not ask the Muslims in Kashmir to lay down their arms”. Mr. Jinnah did not exclude armed struggle by the people of Kashmir for liberation from India.

Mr. Jinnah did not personally favour the intervention of the United Nations Organization or of any other outside authority. He still preferred the solution suggested by him to India on November 1, 1947, that the two Governors General, duly authorized by their respective Dominions, should accept responsibility for the task of setting up a neutral administration in Kashmir and organizing a plebiscite”.

Little did Mr. Jinnah realize that one day Pakistan would abandon the Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir, make a major policy shift under foreign pressure and ‘set aside’ plebiscite in a statement made on Indian soil.

More than 50 years after Mr. Jinnah's death, Pakistan’s Kashmir policy was crumpling up. Imran energized it. He changed the Kashmir narrative and almost single-handedly put the Kashmiri cause on the global platform. However, we cannot look back with much pleasure on our foreign policy and the way our elected and un-elected rulers handled the Kashmir dispute. Kashmir has suffered in every respect by her association with self-seeking, and self-centered rulers of Pakistan who had their own agenda.

But for Imran, betrayed by friend and foe alike, mournful, abandoned, bleeding Kashmir would almost certainly have receded into darkness and forgotten. Imran resurrected the Kashmir dispute. He galvanized Pakistan’s Kashmir policy.

In 1963, as Commissioner Karachi, I had the honour of receiving Prime Minister Chou Enlai on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. He was on his way to attend the Algiers’s conference and broke his journey in Karachi for four hours. I took full advantage of this unique opportunity and engaged him in conversation. Prime Minister Enlai very graciously encouraged me to ask any questions. We talked about the Long March, the Vietnam War and the Algerian war of independence. His words are still ringing in my ears, “all of us, Vietnamese, Algerians and Chinese had to fight for our liberation. Armed struggle was the only solution, the only way to secure liberation from imperialist powers”. Since then, next door Afghans, with no organized army, no air force, and the entire world against them, have secured their liberation from a super power through armed struggle lasting for about for 20 years. Why should Kashmir be an exception?

Non-violent, passive resistance by Kashmiris over a period of 70 years has been a failure, although very costly. Statuesque remains unchanged. Kashmir has been swallowed up and is now part of the Indian union. Today Indian government is not prepared to give up Kashmir. No responsible section of Indian opinion is prepared to consider any settlement of the Kashmir dispute which entails giving up the whole or any part of Kashmir. The West is insensitive to the suffering of the Kashmiris and is disinclined to take any effective action against the Indian usurper. The Security Council Resolutions remain unimplemented. Kashmiris have exhausted all legal and political options during the last 70 years. It is high time Kashmiris took up arms to take back their country. Armed struggle is the only option.